Nackeshia Tomlinson, Gleaner Writer
MAGGOTTY, St Elizabeth:
THE MAGGOTTY Environs Development Committee and Benevolent Society is working to transform the town of Maggotty and the 52 surrounding districts.
The registered non-profit organisation has about 22 members between age 18 and 83, who cater to the less fortunate and help to initiate economic activities for the able-bodied.
To date, the group has been able to provide building materials for the needy, assist farmers through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with a spray pump, equipment for Maggotty High School's science lab, and a pig-rearing facility with a biodigester that is currently being constructed.
In addition to USAID, the organisation has been assisted by other agencies such as the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, Social Development Commission and Jampro.
Jonathan Brooks, president of the Maggotty Environs Development Committee and Benevolent Society, told The Gleaner how the group got started.
"It was basically my idea. I looked around in the community and saw many people who are poor and needy, so I called up some friends, held a meeting, and then got the group registered."
First Vice-President Dwight Coke said as a native of Maggotty, he bought into the vision three years ago when he returned to the area because he remembers when it was at the height of commerce.
Second Vice-President Anthony Williams said: "I want to see Maggotty develop because I have kids living here. We can stay right here in Maggotty and make a positive change."
The group has a number of initiatives that it is hoping to realise. For the short term, it is in the planning stages of a food fest to be held in December, which will highlight a variety of food endemic to the area. The highlights would be a showcase of food in their natural state and as value-added products. Brooks said the festival would double as a fund-raiser.
Rehabilitation of the derelict post office, creation of a park in the open area in the town, putting on an annual health fair, and setting up a scholarship fund are some of the long-term objectives of the group.
According to Brooks, the group is also looking to venture into tourism. It intends to embark on an ecotourism project, in addition to showcasing craft items, in a bid to attract tourists who ply the Maggotty route to some of the destinations in St Elizabeth.