Author-turned-humanitarian shares her goals for 2020
In her 2014 critically acclaimed Mek Wi Laugh & Talk: An Anthology of Jamaican Poems, Donna Hart bared her concerns over the many shortcomings besetting modern society. In my review, ‘Timeless lessons wrapped in patois,’ The Gleaner, January 4, 2015), I referred to her presentation and style as “fluidly authentic”.
I recalled her admonition of men that shirked their familial responsibility. Couched in patois, her message resounded, “When yuh tun a fada to yuh pickney, yuh help fi keep di peace, fah some a di fadaless pickney dem tun criminal at lease.”
And taking a page from the inimitable Martin Luther King Jr, she wrote, “ Mi dream seh wan day some people naa goh mek drugs an alcohol control dem life but dem wi fine a way out so dem tun good husban an wife … .”
Hart is a social commentator and ethicist. Her words are compelling, pricking her readers’ conscience at every opportunity.
In this interview, Hart signals her lifelong ambition as an author-turned-humanitarian.
Glenville Ashby (GA): Tell us about your foundation and its importance in meeting today’s needs.
Donna Hart (DA): The Caroline Hart Foundation was established in Hollywood, Florida, in April 2015 and is 501C3 certified. The goal is to provide educational and financial assistance for children in need.
GA: You were born in Jamaica, one of 12 children. What are some of your most memorable experiences?
DA: Some of the most memorable experiences for me was growing up in a loving family with great parents who taught us how to love and care for each other, and how to help children and adults in the community.
GA: The foundation bears your mother’s name. What was special about your mother, and how important is it for the foundation to be associated with her?
DA: My mother, Caroline Hart, was a humanitarian and was referred to as an unsung hero. She fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the prisons and hospitals, and played the role of midwife when needed. As a result, l wanted her philanthropic legacy to live, on hence the foundation was named in her honour.
GA: Your last book was critically acclaimed and was quite educational on many levels. What role can authorship play in a foundation of your kind?
DA: As a published author, I donated some of the proceeds to the foundation. The book has given me much exposure, having it distributed to people of different cultures. It has educational especially for our youth.
GA: Do you ever consider writing a book about your experience with the foundation and its impact on children? How would you approach such a narrative?
DA: It is a futuristic goal of mine to write a book about children. However, the narrative would be based on my involvement with children with different and special needs. In fact, I have been working on a soon-to-be-published work with the theme of making our children happier.
I believe that most of our problems related to youth are due to parental shortcomings. Parents must establish boundaries and engender a strong work ethic, responsibility and independence in their children. I believe that the culture of entitlement is negatively affecting our society
GA: Your foundation is global. Of all the continents your work has touched, what has struck you most about governance as it relates to children?
DA: Due to limited resources, the foundation has only assisted children in North America and Jamaica. We hope to assist children in South America and Africa by the year 2020 through our collaboration with the international Food For The Poor. Clearly, governments provide assistance, but should do more in providing nutritional meals for children and educational tools for them to fully explore their potential.
I am particularly buoyed by the prospects of opening a pre-K school in the remote areas of St Mary where some children walk three and sometimes five miles for a basic education.
GA: In respect to the Caribbean, what are some of the glaring humanitarian issues that must be expeditiously addressed?
DA: In our observation, we have discovered that drug and alcohol use, teenage pregnancy, and human trafficking are areas that need immediate attention. I recommend a mentoring programme for schools to encourage the children who are faced with these problems.
GA: Is your role as trustee of the foundation purely administrative? Do you work on the ground with the children? What is that experience like?
DA: My role in the foundation is to work directly with the children. The other members of the board perform the administrative work. It is very rewarding to see the children achieve their goals.
GA: You have followed the progress of children that the foundation has helped. Are there groundbreaking successes you wish to share?
DA: We have collaborated with Gaynstead High School for the past four years in Kingston, Jamaica, and sponsored the students for graduation. One of the poorest graduates received her bachelor’s degree in two years.
GA: What is your vision for the world in the next decade?
DA: My vision for this world is to provide clean water for areas of the world like Guatemala, Haiti and Africa, and bring positive changes to millions of children socially and emotionally.
- The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter@glenvilleashby.