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Fifty-Eight years of Canadian Volunteerism in Jamaica

Monday, February 11, 2019

Since its founding in 1961, the Canadian University Students Overseas (now, Cuso International) has had a presence in Jamaica. Today, the volunteers who are based across the island support a number of schools, institutions and ministries of government in the areas of environmental sustainability, economic growth and gender equality. To celebrate Canada's International Development Week (February 3-9) and the contribution of Canadian volunteers who are on assignment in Jamaica, Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica Laurie J Peters hosted a reception at the High Commission on Friday, February 8.


Cuso International volunteers were joined by two other Canadian organisations — Global Affairs Canada's International Youth Internship Programme (IYIP) and the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO). In her address, the high commissioner noted that the volunteers “work hard every day to deliver results that will help people and effect systemic change”. The high commissioner's words echoed that of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who, in his statement on International Development Week, noted: “We celebrate the hard work of international development workers, volunteers, and partners. From building schools and hospitals to sharing experiences with others, volunteers provide much-needed services in local communities. These dedicated people make a difference in people's lives.”


The three groups of Canadian volunteers in Jamaica have partnered with the Government, private sector, academic institutions as well as non-government organisations to fuel change. The 29 Cuso International volunteers currently serve the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; the Climate Change Division of the Office of the Prime Minister; Junior Achievement Jamaica; Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation; Woman Inc; Heart Trust/NTA; Rural Agricultural Development Authority; the Multicare Youth Foundation; RISE Life Management Services; and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship Caribbean.

The 10 IYIP volunteers are assisting in the teaching of mathematics, science, agriculture, climate change, and gender studies at Ardenne High School, St Jago High School, Pembroke Hall High School) and Knox College.

The CESO volunteers are assisting small businesses with operational efficiencies, human resources practices, and scaling.

Canada's financial resources and aid packages are important to the developing world and Canadian volunteers play a large part in international development and this valuable human resource is, in a word, indispensable.