Last Friday, the Fitz John’s Community Centre was filled with the spirit of excitement, love and happiness. Parents, organizers and awardees were some of the people gathered for the Jamaica Ambassador Programs’ Third Annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony.
Jamaica Ambassador Programs
The Jamaica Ambassador Programs (JAP) was founded in 2011 by Eveth Colley. Miss Colley, a member of the Jamaican Diaspora, migrated to the United States as a child. In 2010, upon visiting her father Jamaica, her eyes were opened to the realness of poverty among Jamaican children. She conceived JAP after it was laid on her heart by God.
The program was launched in the community of Flower Hill, Montego Bay, but soon spread throughout the surrounding neighbourhood. As cited on their website, their mission is to ‘provide educational assistance and support to students who are facing poverty and financial struggles as an obstacle to their success.’ As well as using education to encourage achievements that will lead to economic progress and empowerment through education. Therefore, the organization not only provides scholarships for students but also seek to empower them using other areas:
This year, for the first time, the JAP’s award ceremony was divided into two (2) segments. The morning session was opened with prayer and the youth were treated to a motivational speech by Miss Makeda Solomon. The focus of Miss Solomon’s speech was youth empowerment. Throughout her exuberant speech, she never failed to remind the youth that they are ‘awesomely important’ and greatly valued. She also encouraged them to never devalue themselves nor accept the negative labels from society.
Following the motivational speech, the different divisions of JAP presented their progress reports. The divisions presented were; the Reading Club, the Flower Hill Volunteers and the 4-As Program which boasts eight (8) students who have been on the honour roll for 3 consecutive years.
The morning session left the youngsters inspired and was a good segue to the awards ceremony. The Keynote Speaker was Miss Irene Gordon and her speech was centred around “Breaking generational poverty”. She implored the youth to soar beyond the standards set by their forefathers and to rise above any challenge that presents itself.
More than forty outstanding children were awarded. The awards were broken down into different categories which included; academics, volunteerism and the Paul Aikens Compass award. Parents and children alike were grateful for the prizes as they were a mixture of school items, memorabilia and in some cases money. The Jamaica Ambassador Programs motivate the students to excel academically. It also seeks to motivate them to be more charitable and responsible individuals. Below are testimonials from both a parent of a scholarship awardee and a teacher:
The awardees were beyond grateful for the opportunity they received. They expressed their gratitude to Miss Colley and her team for their unwavering support. This award has only kindled a fire within them that they have promised to keep aflame:
The Way Forward
Currently, the program is only based in Montego Bay, but Miss Colley wishes to expand island-wide and possibly even internationally. She also encouraged her fellow Diaspora members to give back to their home country. ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re able to give big or not, start small and let us create a domino effect.’