DIGICEL FOUNDATION EMPOWERS COMMUNITIES IN PORTMORE
KINGSTON, JAMAICA – August 11, 2006 : There is a beacon of hope for the economically-depressed Portmore Lane Community, which is the beneficiary of an Education/Homework Centre from a joint venture initiative between Digicel Foundation and the Covenant Community Church.
The non-profit organization, Digicel Foundation, has implemented a J$2.5 million refurbishing and equipping of two shipping containers, to be used as the Portmore Lane Advanced Centre for Education (PLACE). The Foundation officially handed over the new facility this afternoon, during a special ceremony.
“Digicel Foundation is excited about this project, since it falls within a community which is having serious economic and social problems,” says Major General Robert Neish, Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation. “We view this centre as one which will serve as a support mechanism for parents and families as well as provide children with additional educational opportunities.”
The PLACEwill benefit not just Portmore Lane but the wider Portmore Gardens and Cumberland communities. Digicel Foundation has donated computers, books, stationery, a kitchenette, desk and chairs to the centre.
General Neish indicates that a special feature of this project is that it had its genesis when a member of Digicel’s staff approached the Foundation for assistance in strengthening the outreach programme to the youth by Portmore Lane Community Church.
“The church had acquired the trailer-containers and Digicel’s staff member Leon Atkins who is also a member of the church applied to the Foundation for assistance in converting the containers into a centre,” adds General Neish.
The involvement of Digicel staff in the project extends beyond sourcing financing for the programme. During a workday at the PLACE today, Digicel staff along with the Foundation painted the containers and carried out a general beautification of the compound. At the sports day for the youth held prior to the official handing-over ceremony, Digicel provided a bounce-about for the children, as well as the Digi-Rig which provided music for the teams taking part in the sport competitions.
Leon Atkins, Project Manager at Portmore Lane Covenant Community Church and Digicel staffer will be devoting some of his time to the centre to assist youth with their home-work and school-related activity.
He explains that the economically challenged Portmore Lane has persistent problems such as school dropouts, teenage pregnancy, unemployment and criminality. “Our aim is to rescue the youth and other residents of the area from the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, under-employment and unemployment and crime which is evident in the area,” Mr. Atkins points out.
He states that the centre will not just be an avenue for teenagers to do their homework or research on school projects, but will also offer remedial reading classes for youth and literacy classes for adults. In the initial stages the centre will be open to the community during the afternoons. However, the church envisions that this facility will be the hub of all-day & evening skills training and literacy programmes.
With the school year set to start soon, Digicel Foundation is delighted that it could create an avenue for making homework and academic activities easier for the youth of Portmore Lane and its environs.
Digicel established Digicel Foundation in 2004, to support community-based and community-driven activities. Among projects implemented by the Foundation are:
· Constructing a physiotherapy unit and computer training centre for the Mustard Seed Communities’ Widow’s Mite Home in Murray Mount, St. Ann.
· Establishing an information technology lab at the Jose Marti High School.