This summer, our friends at the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF) hosted 40 amazing volunteers who ventured from Toronto for a fun, hard-working and rewarding school build vacation in Jamaica. Friends, colleagues and grandmothers alike journeyed to the small town of Park Mountain, St. Elizabeth, many with no connection to Jamaica or construction skills at all – just goodwill and enthusiasm. From nine to 75, all ages were encouraged to fundraise and participate, with some families boasting three generations of workers on site.
Prior to their arrival, the Park Mountain Basic School (the only school within three miles of the village) was in desperate need of an intervention. Housing 65 children and three staff in a cramped three-bedroom cottage, there was only one bathroom and no electricity.
Driven to create a learning environment equal to that at home, the volunteers worked tirelessly with a local construction crew organized by HHJF and Food for the Poor Canada. Each and every participant brought their best to the table; great teamwork, an infectious positive attitude and amazing selflessness in the blazing hot sun in the midst of the island’s dry season. After three days, a few litres of sweat and numerous sunburns, the new 10-room Park Mountain Basic School was completed. The students, teachers and entire community of Park Mountain now have a comfortable and safe place of learning.
The Park Mountain Basic School is just one of the seven schools that HHJF has built since its inception in 2006. The foundation’s mission is to better the lives of the next generation of Jamaicans by improving literacy and building schools, through investing in infrastructure, resource materials and expertise. With $70,000 needed to build a brand new school from scratch, HHJF seeks to build as many schools as possible around the island by fundraising through galas, silent auctions, walkathons and even small donations – every little bit helps.
Visit www.helpinghandsjamaica.com for more information on how to donate or participate in the next build.