Clarendon father gets tablets, help for his children
Andre Shortridge of Farm in Clarendon won the hearts of many Jamaicans after he was featured in The Gleaner’s Child Month feature.
The 31-year-old father, who had been teaching his four boys since the pandemic disrupted physical schooling more than a year ago, won the hearts of many readers who hailed him an exemplary father. He told The Gleaner in May that teaching his sons posed many challenges, as the sole device used by the four children began malfunctioning. With no device to access virtual lessons, Shortridge was not deterred as he spent hours each day teaching lessons from textbooks.
Shortridge, however, is singing a different tune today as good Samaritans came on board and donated computer tablets to his children. With all four boys owning a device, Shortridge has even donated tablets to charity. “I can’t live for myself. There are people who are more in need of things than me. We had one device and we got devices so we could even contribute to children who need it more. It nuh make no sense me try scrape everything fi mi self,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries of Shortridge’s goodwill is the James and Friends Education Programme, a charity that sponsors over 200 Clarendon students. He said the donation was to show his appreciation for the years of support given to his boys: ages five, six-year-old twins and eight. “James and his education programme was the first to look at our cry and need and reached out to hold our hands and say, ‘Look, don’t give up, life is here’,” he said.
Otis James, head of the foundation, said he is happy for the support meted out to Shortridge whom he lauded as one of the best fathers in Farm. “I see a lot of fathers give up and quit, but he never had the equipment to do the work and he has four boys and sit with them and go through their books...it impresses me,” James told The Gleaner. “As a person who never have even one tablet; him end up donate to different persons in the community who couldn’t do any schoolwork and even give to me to give to the foundation. He gave me those tablets at the right time,” James said, adding that his team was having trouble clearing tablets that had arrived in the country for his foundation.
The Mandeville-based foundation Circle of Love has also offered support to Shortridge. Founder Nadine Sinclair said, “When I saw [the] story, I was really touched by the fact that Andre, as a father, was standing strong for his children, supporting them in a very positive way, ensuring they got their lessons, and that to me was super impactful.”
Shortridge, who makes and sells natural juices, has also been getting much-needed boost for his business, including a juice extractor. “We were provided with the help to have a few devices so the kids can achieve their education better online. I really appreciate all the help, and kind hearts. I don’t have the words to explain how I’m feeling for the help. I really wanna say respect, thumbs up and give appreciation to The Gleaner. You all did a good work,” said an enthused Shortridge.