July 12, 2016,
Five residents of the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home in Walderston, Manchester, are on the trip of a lifetime to France funded by sprinter, Yohan Blake through his YB Afraid Foundation and his French sponsor and business partner, Richard Mille.
Blake and the boys departed the island on July 6 for the 12-day trip, where they will experience the unique French culture, including the language, food, art, and customs.
They will visit various cities in the European country known for its couture fashion; classical art museums, including the Louvre; monuments like the Eiffel Tower, and its sophisticated cuisine.
While in France, they will observe the making of Richard Mille’s luxury Swiss brand of watches, and attend the unveiling of Mille’s YB Afraid sports car whose insignia was designed by one of the boys. The design captures the Jamaican colours and Yohan Blake’s athletic spirit.
Yohan Blake, who spoke to JIS News at the Norman Manley International Airport said that the trip “came about because of my partner Richard Mille’s wonderful idea of giving the opportunity to Foundations across the globe and the lives they touch to experience what is happening in the world.”
Blake, who recently rededicated his life to God has been involved in helping the less fortunate over the years, and is happy for the opportunity to continue to do so.
“God has been working miracles in my life, and not just for me but also with the boys. It feels good knowing I came from a modest background and am able to help them. I was always a Christian but I’m back on track and I give God thanks,” he said.
Director of the Home, Patrick Newman, told JIS News that the boys were selected based on their academic performance and overall conduct.
A male member of staff is in France as their chaperone.
Mr. Newman said the residents and staff at the home are happy for the boys, noting that the trip “is a wonderful opportunity”.
“This is just a wow moment for me and I can just imagine how excited these boys are to be able to visit France for the experience and exposure. It’s just one of those moments that you can’t find the words to express,” he said.
One of the boys told JIS News that he was thrilled to be going on the trip. “I am excited. I hope to have fun and meet people and learn a different language,” he expressed.
He encouraged the other residents to work hard at school and be on their best behaviour so they will be able to benefit from similar opportunities.
“I would encourage the others to do well in school, have manners, and show that they can take responsibility for their actions so that they can be (good) examples when they grow up,” Yohan Blake noted.
The Mount Olivet Boys’ Home has been the main outreach project of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) since 2009.
The agency makes frequent visits, making donations through the support of corporate Jamaica, and providing mentorship to the boys. The YB Afraid Foundation is a partner with JIS in its outreach.
There are 35 boys at the home between the ages of eight and 18.