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Local efforts boost Jamaican schools

March 25, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mark Pavilons

Canadians love rallying around a good cause. And King residents top the list in charitable giving.
When a Schomberg woman put a call out to help with a school project in Jamaica, the overwhelming local response warmed her heart.
Jo-Anne Cober joined forces with Devon Dunn, who identified a need for school equipment in his homeland of Jamaica.
The school lacked books, audio equipment and they had limited internet access.
“I am a firm believer in reading. Not only as the basis for education but also as an escape to far off places. Some of these kids have no access or limited access to the internet. Books provide knowledge they may not ever know.”
When she put the word out for donations, it spread like wildfire.
“We called around and had friends donate cash. I went on the Schomberg Facebook page and put out a request for books. Since then more than 10,000 books came in,”  Cober said
She added they learned about a decommissioned school so they collected many desks, tables and chairs as well, internet routers and networking cables, flat screen TVs, DVDs, projectors, etc.
They “adopted” three other schools and Dunn formed the Uzazi Foundation.
Cober, a former day care operator, said the welfare of children was always important to her. She remains “a socially conscious person who prioritizes the needs of children in our community and in the world at large.”
The Jamaican situation struck a cord with her and she remains inspired by Dunn, who has worked with some 25,000 children and their families in Canada. Now, at this time in his life, he is committed to doing something for Jamaica’s children.
“I needed to be a part of that,” she said.
Cober observed that the need elsewhere is great, and the waste in our country is ridiculous. Our landfills are brimming with items that are still usable. Our discarded items go a long way to filling a need in certain countries.
Cober pointed out that while Jamaica seems to be doing well overall its education ministry cannot afford to reasonably support all of its schools. The bulk of the resources tend to go to the first-tier schools that are in the cities and the major towns. Many remote schools have rebar instead of proper windows. When it rains the children get soaked. There are often six grades under one roof and no partitions.
“We repurpose commercial cubicles in order to provide sound proofing between classes. We focus on assisting remote schools that usually don’t get much mainstream support. We support schools where more than 40% of the student body come from homes that are at or below the poverty line. We support schools that have histories of excellent performance with minimal resources. It is our belief that every dollar invested in these schools ability to educate children in effect multiply their impact by more than 100 times our investment in their futures.”
Currently, Uzazi has adopted four schools and in all, 1,200 students are benefitting from their support and donations.
“Indirectly we are helping as many as 80,000 people per year as the schools are focal points in their communities and extending supports to adults as well after school,” Cober said. “We have committed to helping each of our schools creating effective libraries filled with books, improve their cafeteria with appliances, create a working computer labs, science labs, chairs and tables for their cafeteria, picnic tables, desks and chairs for teachers, sports equipment and so much more.
“We have committed to a major building maintenance and reconstruction effort providing structural support appliances for the school kitchen, library with books, science models, other teaching aids, kitchen appliances.
“We will be building a building that will be 100 feet by 50 feet at the Woodlands Primary and Infant School in Cross Keys Manchester.”
The building, she said, will be constructed from recycled Canadian containers.
“We have so much to give but sometimes people don’t understand about helping kids so far away. Also they don’t realize how a simple item such as a book can make such a big difference.”
People can help by subscribing to their YouTube channel –­ The Uzazi Foundation­ – and share it with friends and other contacts. You can visit their Facebook and Instagram pages @uzazifoundation. E-transfer donations can be sent to uzazifoundation@gmail.com



         

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