A Small Group is Making a Big Impact in Jamaica’s Schools
Eight 4 World Hope co-founder, Tom D'Amico, helps a student during the ribbon cutting ceremony at St. Theresa All Age School in St. Andrew Parish.
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (June 16, 2014) – A compassionate seed of generosity has blossomed into projects that are greatly improving the educational experience of hundreds of Jamaica’s schoolchildren. Eight 4 World Hope, a Rochester, N.Y- based organization, is making this possible through Food For The Poor.
“Our hope is to help the children gain an education, but it won't happen unless they have the tools to succeed,” said Deacon Kevin Carges, Eight 4 World Hope founder. “Every child deserves a chance to learn and to succeed. Education is critical to lifting them up out of poverty and giving them a life filled with hope and promise.”
Five schools, two located in St. Ann Parish and three in St. Andrew and St. Catherine Parishes, have received much-needed structural repairs and expansions. These expansions include separate restrooms for boys and girls with flush toilets, which replaced decades-old pit latrines.
“Basic and Primary schools always have been the foundation of the educational system in Jamaica. Unfortunately, many of the nation’s school buildings are dilapidated and are in need of renovation,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “Eight 4 World Hope may be a small organization, but they have made a big impact and Food For The Poor is extremely grateful for their generosity. The physical improvement to these schools is having a positive impact on both the students and staff.”
Carges traveled on his first mission trip to Jamaica with Food For The Poor in 2006. Three years later, he founded the charity Eight 4 World Hope at St. John Fisher College, and with the help of six members from the college’s class of 1984, began changing lives. Five years later, the size of the organization remains the same, but interest in the group’s work continues to grow.
In May, Eight 4 World Hope, along with the spouses, children and friends of some of its members, traveled to Jamaica with Food For The Poor and attended the inaugurations of its latest projects. These projects included a new school annex with dozens of new desks to alleviate overcrowding at St. Theresa All Age School in St. Andrew Parish, and a new sanitation building with private restrooms for boys and girls with flush toilets at Planters Hall All Age School in St. Catherine.
During the group’s trip, they revisited earlier projects at Concord Sacred Heart Early Childhood Institution and Bensonton Primary School in St. Ann, and High House Basic School in McCook’s Pen, St. Catherine, which was replaced with a new building last year.
“It’s a blessing to bring people with me to share the experience in Jamaica. I believe they all will return home having a better understanding of why I am so passionate about this ministry,” said Carges. “I have watched many of these children grow up before my eyes. I brought back pictures of some of them from our first meeting four years ago and we shared some laughs. I have grown to love them all very much.”
Eight 4 World Hope is currently fundraising for their next project. Davis Primary School, located in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, was built in 1970 to accommodate 200 students. The school is severely overcrowded, with 720 children currently enrolled and an estimated 200 more on a waiting list. Eight 4 World Hope’s goals include building additional buildings for added classrooms, new bathrooms, school furnishings and supplies for both students and teachers.
“One thing I have learned over these four years is that while the problems and needs may be large, the grace and gifts of God are even larger,” said Carges.
Since 2006, more than 145 educational facilities have been built, extended or renovated by Food For The Poor. More than 75 of these are complete school buildings, 36 of which have been funded through the Jamaica 50/50 campaign, which promises to build 50 schools in 50 months in honor of Jamaica’s 50th year of independence.
Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.