'Party with a Purpose' - changing lives, helping families
Inspired by international charity group Food For The Poor's (FFP) 'Changing Lives, Restoring Families' campaign, seven residents of Montego Bay, St James, staged a 'Party with a Purpose' that helped them to secure 16 new houses for some of Jamaica's most needy.
The seven women - Shelagh Jardim, Ceri Moe, Jan Pollack, Anne Chang, Yoly Mahtani, Audrey Liauw and Bethany Young - revealed heart-rending stories that caused some party-goers to pledge 12 houses after they had raised enough money to construct four.
"When the partygoers heard how difficult it was for the many disadvantaged Jamaican families, they were inspired by the work being done by the FFP, and 12 individual partygoers committed to donating a house," Jardim told The Sunday Gleaner.
Still using pit latrines
The beneficiaries are mainly persons who are still using pit latrines, some in one-bedroom houses with one bed sleeping several people, many without a place to lay their heads.
The Changing Lives, Restoring Families campaign initiative encourages local corporate sponsors as well as individual donors to contribute and participate in building houses across the island, with a particular focus on rural communities.
A contribution of US$3,200 for each house is matched by FFP's head office in Florida, USA. The Montego Bay women raised US$51,000 (J$6.1 million).
The total contribution of US$6,400 allows for the construction of a two-bedroom unit, complete with sanitation, solar lights and a water tank.
"There are no words to describe how some people are living in Jamaica without homes," Marsha Burrell, FFP's development and marketing manager, told The Sunday Gleaner. According to Burrell, she gets emotional each time she is part of the team that builds a house.
Burrell said to date the Party with a Purpose donation is the largest single contribution FFP has received, since it started this new housing campaign in August.
"It is a life-changing experience to see the expressions and the tears on the faces when a house is built for someone who had nothing before," said Burrell.
It was just as emotional for Jardim, who led the Montego Bay-based fundraising team, and who opened up her house to the 350 people who attended.
"It is the first time we are doing something like this for Halloween. We dressed up, had fun and changed lives," said Jardim.
She said they were hoping to have the majority of the house built in western Jamaica, but at least one will be built in Manchester, based on a special request from a donor.
Jardim first learnt about the housing campaign through her husband Brian Jardim's company, Rainforest Seafoods, which has bought into FFP's thrust to provide housing for those less fortunate.
Homelessness affects all types of people - individuals and families, men and women, the young and old, and FFP is adamant that everyone deserves a place to rest their heads and protect their families from the elements and other hazards of homelessness.
"Unfortunately, many Jamaicans are not privileged to own a home. This discourages productivity and encourages the dissolution of the family," argues FFP.
Since its inception, FFP Jamaica has been tackling this problem by building low-income houses for the poorest islandwide.
"More than 40,000 Jamaicans now have a secure and comfortable place to call home, thanks to these efforts," said Burrell.
You can provide safe shelter for the poor
For just US$3,200 (J$384,000), you can build a solid house for a family living in unsafe conditions. For families who have only known the fear and suffering that comes with living in a makeshift hovel, or perhaps just a tent and FFP is convinced that these houses are absolutely life-changing gifts.
How to qualify for a house
A letter of recommendation is required from each applicant, which should briefly explain the current situation that you are in. This recommendation should be written by a pastor or a Justice of the Peace. Along with the letter of recommendation, the following documents should be attached:
- copies of the land title and tax receipt
- Copies of the leased agreement, signed by a JP
- Lease must be for a minimum of 10 years
- Land title or tax receipt
- Land you have received permission to build on
Copies of the permission letter from landowner (signed by a JP), land title or tax receipt.
Original documents should not be submitted.