MONTEGO BAY — About 30 persons from Somerton and surrounding communities in Eastern St. James were on Sunday May 29 recognized as the first graduating class of the ‘Innovative skills training in food preparation for community development and economic empowerment’ course, at the Windsor Lodge Community Centre.
The training was done over a two-week period in February, by Food and Nutrition Consultant and Development Specialist, Dr. Heather Little-White. She collaborated with Member of Parliament for East Central St. James, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, on the first leg of the project.
It formed part of a proposal by Mr. Bartlett for alternative livelihood skills training and capacity building for persons of the constituency, drawn from areas such as Windsor Lodge, Somerton, Dumfries, Industry and Tanbanna.
Addressing the graduates, Mr. Bartlett, who is also Minister of Tourism, congratulated them, and assured the communities that the training and empowerment will continue.
“I told you that we were going to put a programme together for economic empowerment. And so for Somerton alone, I have put aside $500,000 to assist those of you who are ready to establish your own little business in the communities,” Mr. Bartlett said.
He also encouraged graduates to consider cultivating organic foods, which could be sold to hotels and restaurants at attractive prices.
“I will work to ensure that you get sales in the hotels,” he assured the graduates.
General Manager of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Joy Douglas, commended the group, who ‘dared to dream’ and were now celebrating the accomplishment of those dreams.
“I think this epitomizes what Jamaica is all about, that we are a great people and all of you are great individuals, all of you are wealthy. You are wealthy because you dared to dream and have dreamt and worked diligently in accomplishing your dream,” she said.
She pointed out that the programme is supported by the UDC, through its Social Intervention Department, and administered by Dr. Little-White. It is the second such that the UDC has been involved in.
“As we congratulate the graduates, we rightly should recognize this as an achievement for many, because this is an achievement of your individual families, it is an achievement of those who trained you during the programme and an achievement of your communities and your country,” Ms Douglas said.
She assured citizens of the UDC’s continued support for their sustainable training and empowerment in their communities.
By GLENIS ROSE, JIS Reporter