Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
LITCHFIELD, ST Ann:
IT'S A lesson in humanitarian existence. With a degree in engineering from the University of Technology (UTech), Kimroy Bailey has unselfishly set his early sights not on personal gains, but on helping others through community building.
Bailey, from the hilly terrains of Litchfield in a deep rural section of south Trelawny, has established the Kimroy Bailey Foundation and has taken on as his first project a 100 per cent renewable community centre.
This centre is expected to benefit persons in Litchfield and surrounding communities, offering them Internet access, skills training, a study centre, and a recreational facility.
Bailey has poured US$750 he won in an international competition into the project and now needs more funding to complete it.
Recently, he and several members of the foundation were in St Ann, walking the streets of several towns, educating those who would listen about the project, while accepting any donation they could gather. Rural Xpress caught up with him in Ocho Rios.
"I have lived my entire life in Trelawny," Bailey began. "From high school, farming has really been my heartbeat, and I remember one day, we were on the farm and my father said to me: 'Why don't we have robots to do this farming thing for us?' And he laughed off the idea, and probably, he didn't really know the impact that had on me."
Years later at UTech, after graduating from Knox College in Spaldings, Clarendon, Bailey was to spend unlimited time on robotics which, because of the expertise developed, took him abroad to participate in several international competitions.
"We (he and his UTech teammates) had a third-place robot in March, we had a second-place global piece of research in October. So I said, in the midst of all this, I want to give back, I want to build my community, I want to build my neighbourhood because they have done so much in making me who I am today."
So the urge for a give-back project was born. The concept actually came about in December 2012 while Bailey was in Seattle, Washington, where he was doing some research after having built a tropical-storm robotic wind turbine. His research helped him to produce energy in a tropical storm using the wind turbine.
"This research was placed second in the world. Companies such as Pakistan, India, America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand participated in the same competition. I was awarded US$750 from that competition. I decided I would donate it all to this project. I thought the funds would be enough to carry out the task. Unfortunately, it was not able to. So we got the group together. We got volunteers who were enthused about it. They love the cause. We have various persons from the Church, from the communities, the neighbourhood, Kingston, May Pen, all over, coming in, pouring in their time to make this project a success."
Spurred on by his Christian faith and the young people who have latched on to his vision, Bailey believes the Litchfield project will be a success.
Homework and study centre
"What we are aiming to do in Litchfield is have a homework and study centre from which we will offer six-month skills-training courses. We are also hoping to have some computers and Internet access. In the region, we don't have any formal Internet provider, so that area could be where persons come to do their SBAs, their homework, etc."
"Above all," he added, "we are hoping to power the centre using only renewable energy. That's 26 solar panels and a wind turbine. So no JPS per se, but renewable, sustainable energy."
Currently, all that is there are walls and a roof. If the original completion deadline of December 2013 is to be met, then things would have to happen fast in terms of funding to add doors, windows, tiles, paint, and other things needed.
"So the foundation is seeking to lure corporate Jamaica to help in any way they can," Bailey said.
He added: "This centre, located on the grounds of the Litchfield Baptist Church, is hoping to get the people from Litchfield, Wait-a-bit, and other areas together, have that common area where we could bring technology to them, and develop rural Jamaica through this pilot project."