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Charity duo enables Davis Primary expansion Featured

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(l-r) Mavis Wright-Harvey, past principal; Barrington Richardson of the Ministry of Education; David Mair, executive director, Food for the Poor; Bradley Blake, head boy, and Sharon Campbell-Danvers,  principal participating in the unveiling exercise (l-r) Mavis Wright-Harvey, past principal; Barrington Richardson of the Ministry of Education; David Mair, executive director, Food for the Poor; Bradley Blake, head boy, and Sharon Campbell-Danvers, principal participating in the unveiling exercise Photo: Nicholas Dillon

The learning environment at Davis Primary School has been significantly improved due to the efforts of charity groups Food for the Poor and Eight 4 World Hope.

The two charity organizations joined forces to build a new block consisting of three classrooms to improve space for students preparing for the annual Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). Additionally, the school had its computer lab renamed in honour of past principal Lorraine Spencer-Jarrett after it was retrofitted with 22 brand new desktop computers.

At a recent dedication ceremony for the new buildings several stakeholders lauded the effort.

“I am sure this dream had its challenges. Today is a dream that the ministry would want to laud and to applaud your dreams and efforts; and indeed today we are seeing the fruits of your labour as you mobilise partners in education to make this a reality for the nation’s children,” said Barrington Richardson from the Ministry of Education, while reserving special praise for Food for the Poor and Eight 4 World Hope.

At the ceremony, attended by Mavis Wright-Harvey, who is a former principal as well and school board chairman Barbara Sayers, the dire need of the school was amplified by Principal Sharon Campbell-Danvers.

According to Campbell-Danvers the 43-year-old institution, with an enrolled listing of over 700 pupils, was so cramped for space, students had to be walking underneath or on top of the desks to move about in the classroom. Furthermore, she noted, one block was divided into six classes with three to four students to a bench. The new block is the second to be built at the school by both charities. The first was built a year go to facilitate students preparing for the Grade Four National Literacy and Numeracy Exam.

Andrew Carges (left) of Eight 4 World Hope performs the symbolic ribbon cutting with Sheniel Mitchell to officially open the new block (Photo: Nicholas Dillon)

“The lives of the teachers were miserable. It was not an easy road,” recounted the principal. “We made a decision that we are going to put centre four (grade four) at phase one because that’s the group that do the national exam where if you don’t pass the exam you cannot do the GSAT.

“Can I tell you that the attitude of those children has changed tremendously. It is like a prep school within a primary school. They are different. They walk with a different walk, they talk a different way, they have a sense of direction and purpose and I think the ambiance has contributed significantly to that,” she added. “With this new block they’re many children asking ‘Miss, is who getting it?’ But we have taken a decision that come September we are going to be putting grade six at the back (where the new block is located). I have no doubt that come the next academic year the results for the grade six national exams are going to improve; and we want to say thanks to Eight 4 World Hope and Food for the Poor for partnering and building with us.”

Eight 4 World Hope founder Kevin Carges said he was deeply touched to assist the school after learning about their difficult circumstance. The challenge faced by Davis Primary isn’t new to Carges who first came to Jamaica 10 years ago courtesy of Food for the Poor before creating his own charity in 2009.

Carges, a Catholic Deacon said: “I just pray to God so that He can continue to use me and use Food for the Poor and use all the students who are going to get a wonderful education and the parents who are so supportive and the teachers that are so dedicated to these children. You all inspire me to keep going on. So I feel I should be saying thank you to you because through the gift of you I continue to do God’s work.”

More than 100 students will directly benefit from the expansion says Susan Moore, director of recipient services at Food for the Poor Jamaica. She commended the Carges and the Eight 4 World Hope family for their benevolence to humanity before listing a number of other projects they’ve collaborated on.

The new blocks built by Food for the Poor and Eight 4 World Hope (Photo: Nicholas Dillon)

“This is indeed a special occasion and Food for the Poor is delighted to be sharing it with you.

“The 105 students that will be benefitting from the additional classroom space can now breathe a sigh of relief thanks to the generosity of our donors, Eight 4 World Hope, who have provided the funds to give them a better learning environment.

“Food for the Poor’s relationship with Eight 4 World Hope started a while back and has been growing strong ever since. The charity has funded the construction of seven school–related projects throughout Jamaica

Without the continuous generosity of our donors, these schools would still be operating in less than desirable conditions,” Moore said, before adding “Deacon Carges and the entire Eight 4 World Hope Team: your compassion, philanthropy and love for the children of Jamaica is truly admirable and worthy of emulation.

“To the principals, teachers, community members and students, we ask that you cherish this building and let it be a source of upliftment for our children”.

Spencer-Jarrett, a former teacher at Marlie Mount Primary, was moved to tears by the honour bestowed. The retired educator, who served as principal at Davis Primary between 1994 and 2004, recalled the difficulties faced during her tenure in charge of an overcrowded school accommodating three times its capacity.

(l-r) David Mair, executive director, Food for the Poor; Sharon Campbell-Danvers, principal, Davis Primary; Kevin Carges, founder, Eight 4 World Hope; past principals Lorraine Spencer-Jarrett and Mavis Wright-Harvey; Barbara Sayers, board chairman and Barrington Richardson of the Ministry of Education (Photo: Nicholas Dillon)

“When I go to business place they say ‘what you want now?’ because I was labeled the beggar. But it was all for the children and the development of Davis Primary and the wider community,” she said after touring the computer centre. “I am so very happy. I am very happy to see the progress of this school. I had a dream and you’ve picked up the dream. One of my dreams, and I’ve said it to my children, is that when I die whatever offering you get I want you to start a Trust Fund to get the auditorium (build) on this side.

“I am really overwhelmed and I want to thank all of you. I congratulate you on the work you’ve been doing teachers; I congratulate the students, the parents, Food for the Poor, Eight 4 World Hope and all those who continue to give. Do not stop giving because you are giving for a worthy cause.”

A Student crawls from underneath a desk during a skit to demonstrate the overcrowding situation in the classrooms (Photo: Nicholas Dillon)

The Carges family donated gift vouchers to three students who are doing well academically but in need of financial assistance (Photo: Nicholas Dillon)

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