Fri | Jul 20, 2018

Sandra Nembhard: Fired up with determination

Published:Thursday | February 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell Livingston
Pastor Sandra, determined to help the youth.

OLD HARBOUR BAY, St Catherine:

Pastor Sandra Nembhard of the Jamaica Free Baptist Church, Kelly Pen, Old Harbour Bay and her team may not have all the resources they need to train more than 200 students - but that won't deter her.

Fired up with inspiration after some of her members took part in the Mighty Gully Sculpture project in ceramics, Nembhard took back the concept to Old Harbour Bay Community Development Association to train the unattached youth in various skills including barbering, welding and food preparation among others and through secured funding, the dream is within her grasp.

With the help of Social Development Commission's Community Development Officer Monica Douglas Gardener - the community group benefited from funding from the USAID Comet II and the HEART Trust/NTA Business Development and Workforce Solutions Programme.

However, with no central venue, classes are 'scattered'.

"We would want to have classes at a central location, but because we don't have one, we have to make use of the available spaces wherever they are," said Gardener.

Nembhard has taken matters into her own hands along with her team and volunteers from the Old Harbour Bay community to make do with the old broken down community centre.

"In addition to not having a central location, it is a challenge for our unemployed youth to find the taxi fare to attend classes out of the area," said Nembhard.

For her, the thought of losing out on golden opportunity presented to the community members the decision was made to "work with what we have even if it is not adequate," said Nembhard and with great determination, she set about gathering her work crew.

Church members, young people from the community, wherever she could find willing hands, she recruited them to the old broken down community centre - far removed from its glory days.

A tarpaulin dealt with the topless roof which has been giving the sun and the elements free reign, the rakes and shovels tackled the debris that piled up in the building and outside volunteers set about debushing and making the best of a bad situation.

"We are existing on prayer and hope to pull this off," said Nemhard, who shared that the community is fired up about the classes and they don't mind taking them in the far from perfect centre which was battered by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and never renovated.

"We will make do with what we have, but in the meantime, we will be praying for assistance - if we could just get the roof repaired and electrical fixtures, we would be more than grateful," said Nembhard.

The walls are an eyesore, there is no kitchen and other renovations are needed, but Nembhard is not being too demanding, she is willing to deal with the bare essentials if that's all that is coming.

"This course has been impacting the community a great deal ... they have been waiting for this initiative for a long time," she said.

For her, this is the solution to stem the problem of crime and violence.

The youth are not the only ones embracing the free training. Senior citizen Barbara Pringle signed up for food preparation and she told Rural Xpress she is super excited about the prospect.