Thu | May 25, 2017

Seed for Life on a drive to raise funds for Princess Margaret Hospital

Published:Saturday | February 21, 2015 | 2:00 AM

Tickets are now on sale for a prayer breakfast hosted by the Seed for Life group in St Thomas in aid of generating funds for an ultrasound machine for the Princess Margaret Hospital.

Seed for Life founder Ionie Roberts explained last Tuesday that the breakfast was only the beginning of the group's fundraising activities as they attempt to raise the $7 million needed to purchase the equipment. The breakfast, to be held on March 24 at the Anglican Church Hall in Morant Bay, is under the patronage of the custos rotolurum of St Thomas, Marcia Bennett, who, along with several other entities in and around the parish, has extended her support to the venture.

Started in 2000, Seed for Life is a voluntary organisation assisting children across the parish by providing school books, uniforms, shoes and other educational tools. The group also operates a farmers' food and welfare programme, donating tools, seedlings and food items to those who are in need. Roberts told Rural Xpress that the idea for the organisation came to her in a vision after she had visited and spoken to several children who were out of school during normal school hours.

"They all had the same story," she said. "Either they didn't have the books or their parents couldn't buy the shoes. It was the same everywhere I went."

The mother of six was burdened by the need of the children of St Thomas and decided that she would help in whatever way she could.

"We helped 500 children the first year we started. It wasn't easy, but through the generosity of several people I was able to realise my dream."

mixed reaction

The response to Robert's vision has not always been favourable. She laments that various business people in the parish have ridiculed her, and chided her for supporting children, whom they believe are the products of irresponsible, uncaring parents. The group also faced challenges in 2005 when donations went down, but kept offering assistance by volunteering to teach at schools, and making hot meals available to students who could not afford them.

"We have recovered from that; and we do have people who are always in our corner. Young Sang Suprette - we can count on; and Michael Clarke of Concrete Media Television in Connecticut is a great supporter of our endeavours," Roberts told Rural Xpress.

The group also enjoys the support of Maurice Kildaire of the St Thomas Farm Store, who provides a place for them to meet on Tuesday evenings, and acting superintendent of the St Thomas police, Charmaine Shand.

The purchase of an ultrasound machine for the Princess Margaret Hospital is the first major project for Seed for Life. Along with the prayer breakfast, several fundraising activities have been planned to take place throughout the year, with a bake sale, luncheon and gospel and cultural showcases in the works. The need for the ultrasound machine was identified through consultation with the hospital to assess the most pressing need.

Dr Cecil Batchelor, senior medical officer at the Princess Margaret Hospital, commended the group for their generosity and explained that the ultrasound machine would assist with the diagnosis of a variety of clinical conditions. It would also be useful in obstetrics, gynaecology and surgery. He pointed out that the installation of the machine at the hospital would upgrade the hospital from a Type C health facility to a Type B, which would see a reduction in the number of cases being transferred to other hospitals outside of the parish.

Members of Seed for Life are determined to ensure that the necessary funds are generated.

"We are focused on the prayer breakfast now, but we are asking for the support of gospel artistes and entertainers from the parish and across the island to come on board and assist us with the concerts and showcases we have planned," Roberts said.

The group hopes to be able to purchase the machine sometime some time next year.

Donations to Seed for Life can be made to Account #819270 at Bank of Nova Scotia branches islandwide.

- J.B.

rural@gleanerjm.com