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Education For A Change!

Education For A Change!

Education For A Change!

By on - Photos by HELP Jamaica! - 1 comment

HELP Jamaica! is a registered non-profit organization based in Germany and Jamaica. Its aim ? Build libraries and education centers in needy communities in Jamaica. Chairperson Hilmar Keding tells United Reggae about the cause.

Why we do what we do!

Jamaica’s ghettos are exposed to shocking levels of violent crime, gang wars, drug and gun trafficking and police brutality, leaving whole communities terrorised and bereft of hope. Many people growing up in these areas face a live that confronts them with poverty, brutality, fear and the risk to die young. Poverty, unemployment and frustration culminate into a vicious circle contributing to the rising crime rate and devastating gang feuds, often leaving the children without opportunities and positive expectations – and at risk to die by violence before they reach their early twenties. Growing up in the inner city ghetto communities in Kingston, children and youths are confronted with these realities from their earliest childhood days.

There is a public security crisis and the state is failing to effectively provide security to its population, especially to those most vulnerable to crime and violence, namely people living in poverty in inner city communities. Jamaica’s high crime rate has been recognized long time. An annual murder rate of more than 1,600 in a population of 2.8 million puts Jamaica amongst countries like Sierra Leone, South Africa or Colombia – the most violent countries in the world.

There are only few jobs available unless you were privileged to have a tertiary education, best when you earned your degree abroad. Children from the ghetto are rarely amongst the University students. Lacking access to books and computers and tutoring in their childhood is one of the reasons why many face obstacles to achieve quality education. Many people who grew up in the ghetto earn their living in the informal sector or in low-paid jobs. A great number of parents in these impoverished communities can hardly afford school books and uniforms, bus and lunch money. Rarely would you find books in their homes and the parents, often single mothers, don’t find the time to read and play with their kids because they usually work hard to secure their often numerous children’s dinner and clothes.

The protection of Jamaican children from violence, abuse and exploitation in all its forms and the fight against the extraordinary high level of violence in the society is one of the biggest challenges facing the country.

Young Boy Looking Down the Gully Side

What we do!

HELP Jamaica! (stands for Help Establish Library Projects in Jamaica!) aims to establish Library and Education Projects in poor Jamaican communities and thus tries to create opportunities and hope for the children growing up in the ghetto. Besides that, we do support the Trenchtown Reading Centre (TRC) financially, which functions as our role model.

We currently are negotiating about the conditions of usage of the ‘Old Clinic’ in the community of Cassava Piece, Kingston 8, with the local authorities. We are working on the budget and a detailed project outline to realize our vision and to find more sponsors – so we hopefully see the first renovation works starting during the first half of 2010! With the necessary support of the community we will start construct and furnish the building and buy books for the collection.

Once established, the center shall be operated by skilled and trained personal, be equipped with a modern and comprehensible collection of books for children and adults and with a computer lab to teach basic computer skills and creative techniques necessary in a world dominated by modern media. Computer skills, IT-knowledge, web design and internet services can help prepare the children for jobs in these times, where such skills are required and necessary and open up new opportunities. Especially the immaterial and international character of the internet might provide ways to establish small businesses and to make international contacts. Additionally to literacy and reading programs there will be computer courses, photo- and video-workshops, drama classes, skill-training, handcraft, music-classes etc. These courses will add to an attractive program especially dedicated to stir the interest of children, teenagers and young adults, who are in crucial stage to make significant decisions about their future way of life.

Free access to books and computers, skilled and caring staff to help learn and establish reading and computer skills are a necessity for success in school and life. They help to encourage creativity, talent, hope, ambition and excellence. Instilling pleasure and satisfaction from being able to read, to discuss, to perform, to act, to play drama, to learn to play instruments and gather knowledge in a welcoming and secure surrounding, can make a difference and will raise self-esteem and self-assurance of the youths.

We hope this united effort will send out a positive uplifting sign within the surrounding communities and play its little part helping to reduce the killing and violence which daily overshadows the Jamaican society.

We believe in inspiration and qualification as a means to break the circle of frustration, violence and crime! Education For A Change!

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Read comments (1)

Posted by Lorraine Chambers -columnist Dubliner's Daughter at on 09.01.2010
I have a friend in Jamaica who visits us in So. California. He recently got a library card here and I knew he was amazed by the free service. It would be great to help more people in Jamaica to have access to the services and inspiration of libraries! Count me in!

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