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Overseas foundation extends helping hand

Published:Saturday | April 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Stephen Martin (centre), president, Hands For Giving, with teachers and students at Discovery Bay Basic School.-CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS
AT LEFT: Orenthia Ricketts, vice-president, Hands For Giving, interacts with a student at Buxton Basic School as principal Megan Ricketts looks on.

Basic schools receive school supplies

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

OCHO RIOS, St Ann:THE TRUE essence of Jamaicans living abroad continues to shine across the miles to their beloved island as yet another overseas-based group has started an organisation to help children in Jamaica.

In January 2013, Stephen Martin, assisted by Orenthia Ricketts, started The Hands For Giving Foundation in New Jersey, USA, primarily to assist kids in basic schools in Jamaica.

Last week, Martin was in Jamaica for seven days, bringing joy to students at Buxton and Discovery Bay basic schools in St Ann and Duanvale Basic School in Trelawny.

"We are determined and energised to make a difference in basic schools across the island," Martin told Rural Xpress last Friday.

"We have outfitted three schools with book bags, school supplies and teaching materials. Those schools are Buxton, Discovery Bay and Duanvale basic schools. The children were also surprised with treats and snacks. The kids were really receptive and the teachers were happy that someone remembered that they are there."

Martin bemoaned the poor state of some of the basic schools, some of which are without electricity and or piped water. But this has made him and his team more determined than ever to assist.

"It's really just the need, that's why we do it. After visiting the island for many years, we saw the need and we really want to help; we want to make changes; we want to impact the whole island.

"What we found was that it was very challenging to try to help the older people or to make changes for the older folks, so what we did was we decided we're going to target basic schools so we can curve the tree when it's young. So if we can encourage or pull one person out of poverty through education, it would really make a big difference."

Hands For Giving is not seeking to work alone. The organisation is hoping to collaborate with service clubs such as Kiwanis and Rotary to continue helping the kids.

Martin migrated from Jamaica several years ago after graduating from Knox College and CAST College of Arts, Science and Technology, now University of Technology, Jamaica.