Sponsors help school facing tough times

Published: Friday | December 11, 2009

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Like many early childhood education centres in Jamaica, Sandy Park Basic School in St Andrew has its share of problems. Despite financial and social challenges, it has soldiered on for more than 20 years, mainly through the assistance of private sponsors and past students.

The latest venture to benefit the school takes place at its Liguanea Place location with a performance by veteran guitarist Earl 'Chinna' Smith and his band - the second straight year the musicians will make the date.

Martha DeSouza, principal at Sandy Park Basic School, said any initiative to lift the spirits of the students and community was welcome.

In need

"Things are very, very tough," she told The Gleaner. "Right now, we need computers for the children. We are in the computer age and it's very important we get some."

DeSouza also hopes to raise funds in 2010 to construct a proper playing area for her 56 students. The school compound, she said, became dusty during the dry season and was unhealthy for the three-member staff and children.

DeSouza said most of the school's financial support came from the RBTT Liguanea branch, past students living abroad or private sponsors like Merlina Rich, a Jamaican who lives in New York City.

Benefit show

"The school needs help and last year we approached Chinna to do a show. It turned out so well, we decided to do it again," Rich said.

Smith is best known for his work with Dennis Brown, Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. Singer Kai Wakeling also performed at last year's event.

Sandy Park Basic School was founded in the 1980s and is open to children aged two to six. Currently, 70 per cent of its roster comprises youngsters from communities in Liguanea.

DeSouza, who has been principal for the past two years, is one of two teachers at Sandy Park. She said they received a monthly stipend from the ministry of education which also provided food through-out the year.

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