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Digicel boss wants Jamaican challenge

Published:Monday | September 1, 2014 | 9:00 AM
O'Brien

Barry O'Brien, chief executive officer of Digicel, said Jamaica should seek to learn from social-media campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in order to gain support for local causes.

"The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and what it represents is admirable, and Digicel has supported it. However, it is imperative that we also localise such social-media trends and make them beneficial to Jamaicans," O'Brien said.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has drawn the enthusiasm of hundreds of celebrities, and sparked millions of donations to ALS research and raised awareness of the disease. The ALS Association announced last Friday that that donations related to the social media-powered video challenge, which sees participants pour a bucket of icy water on their heads and dare others to donate, has raised more than US$100 million in the past month.

O'Brien last week said Digicel, while supporting the ALS challenge, has decided to pour its assistance into three schools in the downtown Kingston area by providing them with water tanks.

Franklin Town Primary School, St Michael's Primary School, and Kingston College all benefited from donations of 650-gallon tanks from O'Brien.

"I got a call to say, come to the school. I saw (Education) Minister (Ronald) Thwaites here and I was even more curious as to what was happening. To hear that the school is getting this donation is just perfect," Leroy Smith, principal of Franklin Town Primary, said.

"We are ready to get it filled over the weekend just in time for the first day of school," he added.

Dave Myrie, principal of Kingston College, said the tank will be placed on the school's second campus at Elletson Road.

"We've been plagued by water problems year round on both campuses, so this has moved us towards solving some of the water-storage issues. Actually, just this morning we spoke to the parents on how the bathrooms would be maintained given the current water crisis and so to have this donation by Digicel a few hours after, we are really grateful," Myrie said.

Thwaites told The Gleaner recently that although arrangements have been made to truck water to schools given the current water crisis, parents may also be called upon to provide their children with sufficient water for drinking and for sanitary purposes when schools reopen today.