4-H Club helps unemployed Hanover momThursday, March 04, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
ORANGE BAY, Hanover — Verna Robinson, an unemployed Hanover mother whose seven-year-old daughter is living with lupus, recently received 50 baby chicks and 10 bags of feed from the Jamaica 4-H Club to start a poultry farm business.
A grateful Robinson was recently presented with the baby chicks and feed by personnel from the 4-H Club's western regional office and the Hanover parish office during a visit to her Orange Bay, Hanover home.
“I am truly grateful and elated for the gift because when they reached out and said they are going to do something for me because I am over the age of the programme, I was very happy. I am grateful for the gift that is going to contribute to my daughter's development,” Robinson told the Jamaica Observer.
Robinson said her daughter, who is currently on medication, is experiencing a lot of pain, fever, vomiting and has a rash. Lupus is a disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks tissues and organs within the body.
“It is challenging. It causes her to miss school a lot. Almost every year she has to be hospitalised... sometimes two times for the year,” Robinson told Observer West.
“I really have to give God thanks because through the pandemic she hasn't been admitted [to hospital] even though she has been through her ups and downs. Even now, she is not doing so well. She went on Tuesday to do some blood test and I am waiting to go back to the doctor with the results.”
Robinson, who was previously employed in the hospitality industry which has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, said it is a painful experience for her to see what her daughter is going through.
“It's a lot of sleepless nights because even when she is in the hospital I have to be with her. Sometimes I have to sit up with her day and night,” she said.
Suan Fletcher, acting parish mManager for the 4-H Club in Hanover, explained why the club decided to help Robinson, who was one year above the qualifying age for one of its programmes.
“This programme was initiated from the Rural Youth Empowerment Economic (RYEE) programme that the Jamaica 4-H Club has in place. So, this youth farmer applied for the RYEE programme. When the interview was done we realised that she is now over the age group of 18 to 34. She is now 35, so she would not qualify for the programme,” disclosed the parish manager. “We asked her to introduce herself and tell us about herself. She gave us her story and [it] touched the hearts of the interviewers and we realised that we would need to do something for this farmer.”
Fletcher noted that under the RYEE programme, applicants between the ages of 18 and 34 are trained in whatever agriculture area they choose and given resources to start their business.
“We encourage youths to apply for this programme and also to get into agriculture as this is the way forward,” urged Fletcher.
She said some of the Hanover 4-H Club's funding is derived from the Hanover Charities programme bursary from which the club has been able to give help to tertiary students, tablets to high school and primary school students, and most recently, a youth farmer programme was added.
Lascell Smith, chairman of the 4-H Club advisory council, is all too familiar with the experience of growing up through difficult times. He said the 4-H Club contributed to his success in life.
“As a youth growing up I spent all my life with the Jamaica 4-H Club at large. [It] is the main contributing factor towards my success and my growth. Today we see the need to assist others with their personal development and it is a great initiative that we support young aspirants in their venture. So, today we venture on a journey to start one farmer in her journey to become a business person in the field of poultry,” said Smith, who is one of western Jamaica's largest bee farmers and owner of Las-Bee Producers Limited.
Fletcher is also convinced that there are a lot of opportunities for the youth in agriculture.
“Get into agriculture. Get into farming because it is a viable business now. The Jamaica 4-H Club has... the family backyard garden that has just ended and we are still initiating the programme where we encourage families to plant and eat what they grow,” she said.
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