Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Looking back, looking forward | Global dream becomes Jamaican reality

Published:Sunday | November 26, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Dane Richardson
Patrice Smith-Sterling (right), social enterprise special projects programme manager at the Digicel Foundation, is assisted by Lloyd Ferguson (centre), manager of the Eira Schader Home, and a volunteer, in planting some of the seedlings donated by the Digicel Foundation.
St Mary Technical High School is now home to four brand new desktop computers, which they received as part of Digicel Foundation’s Get Gifted Campaign.
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The end of 2017 marks Digicel Foundation's 13th year of operations in Jamaica. We aim to help build a world where no one gets left behind, and so we are very proud of the more than 620,000 persons reached by our 1,173 projects. This past calendar year continues where we started: taking great pride in recognising the partnerships we have developed that support effective and sustainable programmes in both governmental and non-governmental organisations in the areas of education, special needs, and community development.

We build minds by solidifying the backbone of the enrichment of students. The parents, teachers, and schools are important when creating and supporting the 21st-century student, even at the earliest levels. With more than 200 teachers trained to integrate technology in learning and increased involvement of over 6,000 parents, we expect to help Jamaica sustain the immense achievement of its Millennium Development Goal of 85 per cent mastery in literacy. The academic improvements achieved in the more than 43,000 students enrolled in 104 primary schools islandwide with the kind support of the United States Agency for International Development will continue to have a positive impact on these students through their development.

 

COMMUNITY BONDS

 

We build bridges for persons with disabilities (PWDs) because a sustainable future must be shaped by irreplaceable community bonds for every Jamaican. This guiding principle helps point our investment to some of Jamaica's most vulnerable. Our collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund, which kicked off in June 2017, has already seen us pull over 3,100 PWDs into the national social security net.

In addition, the Starkey Hearing Foundation will be helping us share the gift of hearing with over 800 Jamaicans this festive season.

When financial and other resources are invested where it is needed most, we see great courage. This is demonstrated by innovators such as Roshane Foster, the Knockpatrick, Manchester, resident living who cerebral palsy that has started and is growing his own digital business, which serves his community.

We build communities through social enterprise, offering opportunities for entrepreneurship anchored in a social value. Our efforts towards effectiveness have taken us right across the island, where we have met many passionate and inventive Jamaicans of all ages.

Our partnership with the United Kingdom-based Queen's Young Leader Programme allowed us to see our work through a new lens of violence prevention in some of the country's most volatile communities in the parishes of Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, and Clarendon. With a growing trend of major crimes, we have found scores of young people arming themselves with ideas and drive to help generate peace and bring unity. Jemar Green, the 25-year-old leader of the Rockfort Development Council Benevolent Society (RODECO), is one such person. He strongly believes that self-sufficiency can create opportunities and reduce violence in his Rockfort community of east Kingston.

The triumphs of this year are incontrovertible proof that our vision is shared by others, proof of a global dream turned into Jamaican reality, all buttressed by interconnected communities.

There is so much work done to celebrate but also many lessons learned to improve on over the next calendar year.

We must thank our valuable stakeholders, partners, beneficiaries and allies who continue to stand proudly with us on this journey to #LetsBuildJA.

- Dane Richardson

Chief Executive Officer Digicel Jamaica Foundation

#DigicelFdnJA