Ashli-Ann Broughton, Street People Liberation | Rendering Noble Services To the Homeless
A heart of gold supplemented by loyal team efforts is a force to be reckoned with, even in the Second City where negatives tend to overshadow glimmers of hope.
Twenty-year-old Ashli-Ann Broughton and her Street People Liberation (SPL) Group stand as testament to this.
SPL is a Non-Profit organisation operated by youths and aimed at alleviating the suffering of homeless persons living in Montego Bay.
It was started in March 2014 by then 17-year-old Broughton as a student of Anchovy High School who later incorporated 10 members from five other high schools in Montego Bay.
The projects are solely geared towards improving the lives of the homeless. SLP supplies them with clothing and toiletries throughout the year and cooked meals on public holidays.
"At the time I started SPL I personally realised that there was an increase in the number of homeless persons living on the streets in down town Montego Bay compared to the previous year."
She added: "That same month I proposed the thought to my school mates and peers and told them that I would like to start a charity to help the homeless, with the help of teenagers. We had our first feeding in April 2014 and since then, we have been feeding the homeless on public holidays and two Sundays each month," Broughton told The Gleaner.
With just the core membership at the time and a meagre budget, Broughton and her group of good Samaritans set plans in motion on Easter Monday, April 21, 2014 to aid the homeless in New Kingston. Seventy persons benefited from this first undertaking and the membership has grown in excess of 60 since that day.
Several feeding projects have subsequently been executed in Montego Bay. SPL has paved a path of individual selflessness to usher in an atmosphere of sensitivity and understanding towards those who call the streets home.
Their existence is fuelled by the smiles they put on faces ravaged by the elements and lingering thoughts of constant struggles. Broughton's long-term aim for SPL is islandwide expansion and lifting the stigma associated with homelessness.
The law aspirant and recent graduate of Montego Bay Community College told The Gleaner: "I credit my supportive team for their dedication and lending their time to this worthy cause. It's not solely the business of the Government but we, too, must walk this road and aid along the way. It's hard work but the key thing is getting persons not just to understand their plight but to seek to alleviate it."
SPL is self-sponsored. Funds and items come from persons who volunteer on projects. They also partner with other charity organisations and accept food supplies, clothing etc. based on the specific needs of the project.
In May 2015, the community of Adelphi and (Lima Church of God of Prophecy) recognised Broughton's contribution to the parish and awarded her for Outstanding Achievement in Youth Development Subsequently, in June 2015, Broughton was awarded a St James Junior Council award for recognition of valuable contribution to the parish of St James.
FUTURE PROJECTS INCLUDE:
* A plan this year to have five major feedings and five clothing distribution projects.
* SPL is working on a documentary film entitled "On the other side of paradise" by Dario A. Shields. This should be released by early June 2017. The documentary will highlight the obstacles that the homeless persons are facing in Montego Bay
* Bringing some awareness on homelessness in the parish, so that discrimination and marginalisation will decrease.