As one of the most developed countries in the Caribbean, Jamaica continues efforts to improve its social development. However, there are areas – especially within rural regions – which still struggle with issues of underdevelopment. A timely advertisement from the Projects Abroad organization encouraged an applicant’s request for help, placing Jamaica in the organization’s focus.
Established in 1992, Projects Abroad is based in the United Kingdom and organizes voluntary services for 9,000 volunteers each year to placements in 29 countries spread across five continents. Having evaluated the existing problems in the country, Projects Abroad initiated its programme in Jamaica in April 2008, and has since executed many impressive projects.
With an office in Mandeville, the organization operates in the parishes of Manchester, St. James, Kingston and St. Elizabeth. There are myriad areas in which Projects Abroad arranges voluntary work initiatives. From conservation, building, teaching, medicine, care for children, the elderly and disabled, to more critical areas such as disaster management as Jamaica is vulnerable to hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
In Manchester, there have been numerous building projects to tackle the existence of poor sanitary facilities in schools and homes for the elderly. In partnership with the Ministry of Education, Projects Abroad has joined the move to phase out the use of pit latrines in primary schools to prevent health risks and improve healthy conditions for young children.
A notable building project, completed by the organization, took place last year at the Old England primary school where pit latrines were still being used. The team completed a male and female block of about six bathrooms on each side with a shower in each bathroom facility.
The Christiana Leased Primary School was also a recent beneficiary of the organization’s building initiatives. For years, the school’s staff had tried to have a playground built for the students but hardly made progress. Projects Abroad Jamaica reached out and over the course of eight months, completely built a playground for the students.
“Play time is important to young children and the group saw the need to build this playground, especially in trying to tackle the problem of childhood obesity which can lead to other health risks,” said Tonesha Grant, a Projects Abroad Jamaica representative.
A team of Projects Abroad Jamaica staff and volunteers will go to the McIntosh Memorial Primary School to spearhead a farming initiative later this month. The school has faced challenges with maintaining its farm. The plan going forward is to resume farm activities and have the 4H club assist with teaching students the theories and skills related to farming. Projects Abroad Jamaica will play a key role in resuming the school’s farm activities, from which the 4H club will take the mantle to maintain the work started.
Projects Abroad’s most fundamental mission is to provide support to critical areas of rural development and promote a cultural exchange that will benefit both their volunteers and the communities in which they work. Its primary values are centered around four C’s: contribution, community, company and culture which intertwine to promote and effect positive changes.
Jamaica is one of 29 countries that has reaped the benefits of the organization’s projects toward improved social development and will continue to be positively impacted by their efforts.