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600 feted at back-to-school event in Maverley

Monday, September 10, 2018

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The late August midday sun was not nearly hot enough to prevent some 100 children from pouring on to the grounds of the Source resource centre in Maverley, an inner-city community in St Andrew which faces more than its adequate share of violence.

They had come to receive school supplies and have medical screenings before the school year began.

There was no bounce-a-bout, but for many of the children, it was a final hoorah before the start of another school year; and for many parents, the opportunity to receive supplies they were not able to acquire, for economic and other reasons, before the start of school.

The event was organised by Voices for Jamaica — a not-for-profit group which caters to the development of youth in Maverley — with some help from its partners, the Rotary Club of Trafalgar New Heights and corporate sponsors GraceKennedy, LASCO and Coldfield Manufacturers.

“We had identified persons in the community who could not afford to purchase back-to-school items such as bags and books for their children, because they were not in a position to do so,” Alecia Jones, executive director of Voices for Jamaica, said as she explained how the event began in 2014.

This year, the organisation distributed some 600 school bags to not only children in Maverley, but also in Tivoli, West Kingston; and select communities in St Thomas, St Catherine and St Elizabeth. However, Maverley remains the organisation's primary focus.

“Because they look forward to the school bags, note books and other items, many parents can focus on simply getting the textbooks and tuition, even though we also offer some assistance with textbooks too,” Jones said, explaining why the annual event is sustained.

The children's health are also provided for through a health fair coordinated in partnership with the Rotary Club of Trafalgar New Heights, where residents receive dental services, medical screening and vision testing, among other services, at a heavily subsidised cost.

“We are told of free education and free health, but that's not the case apparently,” opined chairperson of Voices for Jamaica, Patricia Keith, who lives in the United States of America, as she observed that although without user fees or tuition, there are still some prohibitive costs to accessing health and educational services in Jamaica.

She urged Maverley residents to, therefore, support volunteers in the area in order to sustain the services provided by the organisation, spur development and reduce violence.

“We are really trying to make some changes here within the community, so if you have a weekend and you see the doors [of the Source open], go in and see if any of the ladies need some help,” she urged.

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