Gareth Davis Sr, Gleaner Writer
Ginger House, Portland:Growing up in arguably one of the most depressed communities in Portland, Ginger House, in the Rio Grande Valley, is not a deterrent for 16-year-old Kostya Brooks, who is a bright prospect at Portland High School.
Brooks, a fifth-form student, is integrally involved in community-related activities and volunteerism and spends several hours assisting primary school students with their homework.
"I am not just focusing on schoolwork," commented Brooks.
She added: "We have a homework centre at a basic school in Ginger House where I help students with their homework on Sundays. These are students whose parents might not be able to adequately assist them with their homework. It is a joy to see the smile on the faces of the younger ones, who are always eager to learn. It is unfortunate that some are unable to complete their schoolwork at home, and having found out about that, I decided to volunteer my service."
Ginger House is a farming community which thrives on banana production, yam, dasheen, pepper, ginger, plantain, pineapple, coffee, and calalloo, which are transported by trucks to the local market and to Kingston for sale.
The deplorable state of the roadways, which is compounded by the lack of socio-economic activity, tells a painful story of the many challenges facing residents in the Rio Grande Valley who are left to fend for themselves.
Brooks' courage and determination to make a difference in her community has been met with positive responses. Many persons have joined in as volunteers to see to the need and well-being of the youngsters.
But while Brooks is determined to continue assisting the less fortunate and underprivileged, her success thus far at school is astonishing, with an average of close to 95 in all subject areas.
Her ability to lead and command the respect of her peers is a plus and has not gone unnoticed, and teacher Rafike Miller has indicated that she is one of the brighter minds drawn from a pool of students who are preparing for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate.
Brooks, whose ambition is to become a gynaecologist, singled out English, information technology, human and social biology, mathematics, and geography as her favourite subjects. In total, Brooks will be sitting 11 CSEC subjects next year, after which she is expected to start university.
Continuing, Brooks said: "I have a passion for helping persons of my age group, younger, and beyond. Yes, I am a young person, but someone has to assist and put the less fortunate on a path of success by pointing them in the right direction. Education is the key to success, and I am advocating for every youth to be provided with this opportunity."