Rotary Club of Negril donates bus for schoolchildren
Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:Thirty-six children in Negril, Westmoreland, will have an easier commute to school with the donation of a new Toyota minibus by the Rotary Club of Negril on Friday.
The club, in collaboration with the Mary Gates of Heaven Catholic Church and Rotary International, donated the 15-seater bus for the children of the Mt Airy All-Age School at a cost of US$41,000 (J$3.58 million).
President Ken Cooney said that the bus donation was the latest initiative over the past two years in the Mary Gates of Heaven Catholic Church's community-development programme.
"We're six months into that programme, and this is the latest step. We have to rely on local transportation, and it's quite a long way up to Mt Airy School, so we decided that a school bus would help us as a more efficient, more reliable way of getting the kids to school every day," he said.
Principal of Mt Airy All-Age School, Dorretta Guthrie, expressed gratitude to Rotary Negril for the donation.
"This fine gesture, providing a bus for some of our students, has come at a time when we needed it most. This will enhance learning ... and right now the attendance rate is over 90 per cent, and their levels of academics are great," Guthrie stated.
"We are seeing students performing well, compared to former times. I raise my hat to the Rotary Club of Negril and all the other members for this fine gesture to the Mt Airy All-Age School. I can say this is the day that the Lord has made, so let us rejoice and be glad in it, and we are here rejoicing."
"This is just the latest step in the development of that programme, which started two years ago, when the Catholic Church started up its soup kitchen, which is now feeding about 200 people three days a week. Once the kitchen got going, we realised that there were so many kids here who were not in school," said Cooney.
"At first we started to do some schooling here on this site, and then we decided that really, what we should be doing is to get the children into school."
The handover ceremony took place at the St Anthony Soup Kitchen in Negril, which is run by the church.