Trevor Spence, a member of the Boys’ Town Infant and Primary School board, said that COVID-19 is affecting the students’ quest to learn and their parents’ ability to earn.
Spence, who has been active in the Trench Town communities for over 50 years, explained: “Many of the children have a single parent, most likely a teenaged mother, who is unemployed or an income that generally comes from linkages with the Coronation Market. They do their buying and selling around downtown, and that is mainly closed off now. And those who have relatives abroad get some remittance, but that too is closed off.
“Before this situation, many people were surviving on two good meals per week, and hustle in between. For instance, the children at the school would get a cooked meal every day, eat a bit of it and save the rest for the others at home,” he elaborated. “Most of the children in the community do not want holidays, because when school is out, they don’t get a meal whether on the PATH (Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education) Programme or not.”
With this sharp reality in focus, the decision was made by the C.B. Facey Foundation (CBFF) to assist the community.
CBFF has been a major contributor to the administration, academic and extra-curricular programmes at the school and the Boys’ Town institution in general for over for 35 years. And since the school’s closure on March 13, it has overseen the delivery of 780 packages over three distribution days.
The supplementary dietary packages are provided for each of the 250 students at the school and the parents participating in Boys’ Town Family Care Centre, a parent outreach programme.
“At the Foundation, we are embedded in the lives of the children at the school. When we realised that the children were going to be at home for an extended period of time, we wanted to find new ways to help,” said Anna Ward, executive director of the C.B. Facey Foundation.
She explained that it was important to include fresh produce and fruit in the packages.
“We decided early on that we wanted fresh produce to be incorporated in our packages, while also providing basic necessities,” said Ward. “We are committed to including at least one fresh product in all our packages as we join the private and public sector to support our farmers and #SayYesToFresh.”
Ward also expressed gratitude to sponsors Tru-Juice, Blue Power, GraceKennedy Foods and Jamaica Producers.
Bobbette Hinson, assistant teacher for the school’s infant department and past student of Boys’ Town Infant and Primary School, has first-hand knowledge of how thankful the parents are for the food packages.
“The parents are really appreciative, it helps them a lot. [Before the lockdown] some of the students would only have a good meal at school. With the distribution for Boys’ Town children it makes a huge difference,” Hinson shared.
She said the students have been working from lessons received via WhatsApp, including her 12-year-old son Keddan Kerr, who is preparing to sit the Primary Exit Profile (PEP).
For Spence, the help from the C.B. Facey Foundation has taken the community out of survival mode.
“The distribution doesn’t fulfil 100 per cent, but on a timely basis it is helping,” said Spence.
About CB Facey Foundation
The Foundation aims to shape the Jamaican society by investing in arts and education through relationships with the National Gallery of Jamaica and Jamaica Association for the Deaf among other partners.The CBFF also invests in the environment, economic growth and business sustainability through continuous projects.
For more information of the work, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CBFaceyFoundation/ and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/cbfaceyfoundation/