Nothing beats getting personally involved

Canadian donors working with Jamaica Haiti to support education, health and livelihoods.

During my time as High Commissioner in Jamaica, I saw first hand the significant official cooperation that exists between Canada and Jamaica.  Programs focussed on justice reform and citizen security; entrepreneurship; public finance; military and police cooperation; disaster preparation et.  To represent Canada in the context of the delivery of these programs was an honour.  However, as these programs tended to be large-scale and multi-year, it was sometimes difficult to really connect, on a personal level, with the people benefitting from them.

I considered myself very fortunate, then, to have been able to make a connection with Food for the Poor, in particular its Canadian arm, Food for the Poor Canada, through Executive Director, Samantha Mafood, along with Ray and Donette Chang , Thalia Lyn and a number of others.

Through this contact, I was invited to participate in a school build in Accompong, near Ray Chang’s birthplace.  Being in physical contact with the project (I helped to paint the school) and the children who were the beneficiaries, as well as the donors who made the build possible, was inspiring.  Building a school was certainly on a smaller scale than the large development projects that Canada funds in Jamaica.  However, the intangible satisfaction from being able to personally help with the physical and financial effort to touch children and their community has always stayed with me.

Joanne and I have returned to Canada now and I have retired from government service.  However, I still seek to maintain connection with Jamaica (a land we love :)) by serving on the Board of Directors of Food the Poor Canada.

The organization is on a multi-year mission to increase the contribution to helping build Jamaica and Haiti and other countries in the Caribbean.  We are focussing on education (building and equipping schools), health (providing water, feeding programs and housing as well as pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and supplies) and livelihoods (i.e. bee farming).

Food for the Poor Canada has just recently updated its website presence.  I would invite you to take a look at it, it is good reading.  And while you are at it, sign up for the newsletter, and watch for what we are planning.  After doing so, if you feel you are in a position to help the organization continue to deliver its contribution to Jamaica, we would love to hear from you.

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