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Jamaican Self-Help is a non-governmental organization that supports three schools in the inner-city of Kingston, Jamaica. The Jamaican Ministry of Education cannot provide the funding to these schools because of debts they are paying off to the developed countries from which they have borrowed. Jamaican Self-Help is there to provide education in the areas of music, dance, physical education, and woodworking.
At Tavares Gardens Primary School, JSH provides funding to pay a coach to teach the girls netball skills. Tavares Gardens is now able to send a netball team to tournaments. This was not possible before. The girls have come up against some difficult competition, but they are learning some good sports skills, and they are learning how to be team players.
Track and Field is a sport that is very popular in Jamaica. Tavares Gardens now has a coach to encourage skills in this sport. Last year, one of the students, Kayon Thomas, performed extremely well in track. She competed in the National Athletic Championships where her performance was outstanding. As a result, she entered St Catherine High School on a full track scholarship.
Realizing that Kayon would have difficulty paying for school supplies, transportation to school, lunch while at school, uniform, and footwear JSH set up a scholarship fund to help pay for these items. Most of the girls at this school are from middle class families and it is important for Kayon to feel as comfortable as possible in her new school setting.
St. Anne’s, another primary school that JSH supports, has a dance programme that does not exclude boys, but appeals mostly to the girls at the school. Jamaican Self-Help pays the instructor. For young girls who come from social and economic backgrounds marked by poverty and violence, dance is a way to develop a sense of togetherness and positive self-expression. At the 2019 JCDC Festival of Performing Arts, the junior dancers entered three pieces and were awarded two gold and a bronze medal. The senior dancers entered four pieces and were awarded three gold and a silver medal. Can you imagine what this does for the self-esteem of these students?
In the future, there are plans to develop workshops for adult women at St. Anne’s Primary School. Most of the women in the area surrounding St. Anne’s School are unemployed and lack many practical skills. They do not know how to apply for a job. With JSH funding, the workshop would teach sewing, literacy skills, and employment skills. This is a big undertaking, but we think that providing these women with some new skills will give them hope for the future.
Jamaican-Self-Help is dedicated to providing a better education for youth and children in Kingston, Jamaica, both males and females. However, we are very dedicated to encourage girls and women to rise up and reach their potential!
Cathie Morrissey is the President of the Board of Directors for Jamaica Self-Help.