Digicel Foundation participates in Community Open Day and Opens their new Skills Training Centre
Kingston, Jamaica – 07 July 2010: Nestled in the remote hills of St. Andrew, Dallas Castle is ardently building its capacity, one step at a time. “We are cut-off from the rest of St. Andrew, because we are so far in. But we are working very hard to build our community, using the tools that we have,” explained Kelvin Clarke, President of the Good Hope Benevolent Society. “It’s a pleasure to host an Open Day for the Dallas Castle Community on Friday (July 9, 2010), as we believe we have come a far way, in terms of development; and opening our new Skills Training Centre, courtesy of Digicel Foundation, is just one other achievement we are proud to have made.”
Digicel Foundation has thrown their support behind the community. “We were pleasantly astonished to see and hear of the hard work this community has invested, in order to seriously build their community,” commented Major General Robert Neish, Executive Director of Digicel Foundation. “They have all the components that our Board affectionately admires – social entrepreneurship using indigenous resources found within the community, Go-Green programmes with the modus operandi of protecting the natural environment and the strong desire to develop skills,” he expressed. “We are proud to have made our contribution to assist with the training and development of the Skill set within the community.”
The Benevolent Society approached Digicel Foundation for funding to refurbish majority of their Community Centre into a Skills Training Centre. They had sought and received items such as three computers, desks and chairs, bed, night lamp and other amenities from the Inter-American Foundation. With HEART Trust NTA also on board, community members will be able to receive certified training in Hospitality Management and Information Technology.
The Good Hope Partners Benevolent Society consists of members of the Dallas Castle Community as well as representatives from the surrounding communities, which comprises of 15,000 community members. As a group, the Benevolent Society has set in motion, plans of action, to achieve goals within a specific timeframes. “We received capacity building training from LIFE Secretariat and they have assisted us along our way, in receiving funding for our various projects,” explained Clarke. “They helped us to put on paper a five-year plan and we are hitting the ground running to make the plan a reality.”
Established through funding received from the Canada Fund, The Good Hope Agro-Processing Unit is one component of the five-year plan, which is operating under the auspices of various organizations. “The ladies are hard at working in their Agro-Processing Unit. It runs primarily off solar energy, thanks to panels we received through Environmental Foundation of Jamaica,” Clarke commented. Items such as jellies (tomato, pepper, and pineapple), bag juices, pastries, etc, which are sold to the Primary School in the community are produced and packaged under the direction of LIFE Secretariat and Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).
Despite these arduous strides, the community is oftentimes, crippled by one problem. “Approximately 85% of the youths within the community are unemployed (under age 35) and so sometimes they engage in illegal activities that has led to the serious demise of the community,” Clarke shared. “Hopefully all that will change, with the opening of the new Skills Training Centre, on Friday,” he said with a smile.
The Community’s Open Day begins at 10am on Friday, July 7, 2010, and will see members of various communities as far as Bull Bay, coming out to see and hear of Dallas Castle and its model for community development. Various organizations will also be on hand to offer information and guidance to those present – HEART Trust NTA, Good Hope Agro-Producers, LIFE Secretariat, Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, Jamaica Business Development Corporation, among others. Entertainment and attractions will be provided for children. Adults will also be able to participate in a domino tournament and football matches with a Digicel staff team.