Sun | Aug 19, 2018

Transforming Rose Town

Published:Sunday | December 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Contributed Trainee Kevin Nesbeth (center) shows off his Digicel wood carved sign made for the Digicel Jamaica Foundation at the official opening of the Rose Town Foundation's Block Making project recently. Joining him, from left are: Patrice Smith-Sterling, grants and finance specialist at the Digicel Jamaica Foundation; Jean Lowrie-Chin, chairman Digicel Jamaica Foundation; Angela Stultz, program manager, Rose Town Foundation and Councillor Neville Wright.
Contributed Rose Town Foundation trainee Kevin Nesbeth (right) shows off the stool made by the trainees to guests at the opening of the Rose Town Foundation's block making and wood work facilities. From left to right are: Jean Lowrie-Chin, Digicel Jamaica Foundation chairman; Angela Stultz, programme manager, Rose Town, Foundation and Patrice Smith-Sterling, grants and finance specialist at the Digicel Jamaica Foundation.

The sometimes-troubled inner-city community of Rose Town, in South St Andrew, is continuing its transformation with the introduction of block and wood manufacturing.

Residents from the area recently completed a project which will see 300 persons benefiting from training in business management and vocational skills, through a partnership between the Rose Town Foundation for the Built Environment and the Digicel Foundation.

The collaboration resulted in the construction of a block making work area, as well as the provision of material and equipment to make blocks and woodwork. Eighteen men and women are currently being trained to produce quality building products.

"This is one of many projects the Rose Town Foundation has embarked on as a strategy geared at transforming this community," said Angela Stultz, project manager of the Rose Town Foundation, at a handover ceremony recently.

"Everything you see here today was built from scratch by the community and the Digicel Foundation has taken it even further."

Bridging divides

This project also establishes a mechanism to bridge social and political divides, according to chair of the Digicel Foundation, Jean Lowrie-Chin

"This is no ordinary project because the residents, who will be involved in the manufacturing and various types of training, come from different areas of the surrounding community with, quite likely, different political leanings," said Lowrie-Chin.

"However, they are united in one goal and that is to become skilled workers so that they can be financially independent. The high level of demand for block making and cabinetry makes this project a sustainable effort," added Lowrie-Chin.

Trainees of the block making and woodwork will also have the opportunity to become employees of the Rose Town Foundation.

Going forward, Rose Town residents are looking to leverage support from outside entities to build capacity within the community.

"This project affects persons across the board through income generation and employment," said Gresford Bennett, business coordinator of the Rose Town Foundation. "It makes a statement that something good can happen in this community."

The sale of the blocks and woodwork will help fund operations and improve sustainability of the Rose Town Foundation.