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Published:Thursday | March 19, 2015 | 8:12 AMRuddy Mathison

The New Horizons Christian Outreach Training Centre is a nondenominational faith-based facility that trains at-risk youths in life skills enabling them to take their rightful place in a changing world.

Founded 15 years ago by religious leader and philanthropist, Cedric Lue, who was an overseer in the Open Bible circuit of churches, the engineering and life skills training facility has taken on the business of packaging herbal tea and bottling castor oil for domestic and overseas markets.

Before his death, Lue realised that there was a huge chasm where youths leaving juvenile facilities would be sent out, not to their families, but out into the unknown without skills. It was against this background that he initiated a half-way centre to help these youths develop functional skills.

eries of transformations

The centre, situated in Winter Pen, St Catherine, has gone through a series of transformations establishing it as a premiere engineering and life-skill training facility, admitting not only youths leaving juvenile facilities, but walk-ins who are desirous of changing their lives.

Executive director, Michael K. Barnett, who took over the reins of the operation, told Rural Xpress that the social enterprise is based around training young people in welding and fabrication as well electrical maintenance technology and the inculcation of values.

"Where New Horizon distinguishes itself from other training facilities is that it takes trainees who possess no skill at all and walk them through training in a big family setting, equipping them in mind body and soul, prepare them for the cooperate culture, and then release them into the world of work to acquire experience or further training," the executive director stated.

worked extensively overseas

Bennett, a trained engineer, who worked extensively overseas, claimed that his motivation is the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He disclosed that the facility emphasises environmental protection as a philosophy. "We ensure that everything around here is recycled, in most cases creating new products," adding that every equipment used at the centre is built by the trainees.

"Under my instructions, they are able to design and build many different machines from the glass-crushing machine to the bamboo splitter and conveyor systems, to name a few," Bennett revealed.

The recent initiative is the manufacturing department, where trainees are engaged in producing equipment for other non-governmental organisations, as well as processing the Jamaican black castor oil, and packaging herbal teas, along with other native extracts, some of which are exported.

Trainee, Demmeno Ayton, told Rural Xpress that learning to process the castor oil and the art of packaging products for the export market has taught him skills he never dreamt he could have acquired.

"My whole life has changed since I came to New Horizon, this my second year and, so far, being here, I have gained tremendous experience, I have learned a lot not only in food processing but machinery manufacturing," declared Ayton excitedly.