On my many trips to Jamaica, the children in the poor communities particularly pull at my heart strings. They are smiling, happy and eager to learn. They have very few material things but long to go to school. In many of the poorest communities school has never been an option for generations.
There are some wonderful teachers in Jamaica with a passion to teach and no building to teach in. I have found the youngest children in the villages all know their national anthem and a song called "I Am A Promise." Some of the words of the song are "I am a great big bundle of potentiality", and they are! Education is the key to their future. My goal was to build a primary school with a feeding center in St. Catherines, Jamaica. The children who will attend all live in shacks, but through the school they will receive uniforms, 2 hot meals a day, a sanitary station and most importantly-an education.
This school has been named the Celebration of Life School and is being built in honor of a 13 year old Texas young man named Thomas Park. Thomas is the nephew of some pilgrims I have traveled with to Jamaica several times. I have personally never met Thomas, but on returning from a trip to Jamaica, his aunt and uncle requested some of us become e-mail buddies with Thomas. They shared that he has cancer, but was a fighter. I immediately began communicating with Thomas through his Care Page at the Childrens Hospital. His mother would post updates and pictures of he and his brother. One day she reported that it was his last day of chemo. I sent him an e-mail stating we needed to celebrate this huge moment. I told him I was going to build a school in Jamaica in his honor. It would be for kids his age who had never had the opportunity to go to school. That day was a celebration of life day for Thomas and his family, thus the name of the school.
Thomas is moving forward and his tests are good. Through education, many young people in Jamaica will move forward. Hope comes in many forms. Thomas and his family have survived on hope and faith for his few young years. The poor of Jamaica get through each day on hope and faith. This school is a gift of unconditional love and will be a facility to educate young people for generations to come.
Celebration of Life School was built July 2011 by myself and friends.
Phase II-Steven's Place-computer center with computers, security fencing, playground, soccer goals, storage unit and community garden funding completed Feb. 18, 2012!