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District Governor, Kiwanis Eastern Canada and the Caribbean, Melford Clarke (centre), presents member of the Jamaica Society for the Blind, Elisha Afflick (left) with a care package during the recent distribution from the Food Bank located at the Abilities Foundation, in St. Andrew. The Food Bank was set up by the Kiwanis Division 23 East to assist the disabled community. At right is Lieutenant Governor, Kiwanis Division 23 East, Pam Rodney White.
Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson

Story Highlights

  • Sixty-five-year-old visually impaired, Elisha Afflick, is expressing appreciation to the Kiwanis Division East 23 and the Abilities Foundation for making a difference in the lives of persons with disabilities, by providing them with care packages containing groceries and other items.
  • “I feel very pleased and happy that somebody remembers us as disabled persons, because sometimes we feel like we are left out, but we are still happy that somebody around still cares for us, still remembers us, still looking out for us,” the Portmore resident said.
  • Mr. Afflick, who is a member of the Jamaica Society for the Blind and Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), said he hopes that the assistance will be an ongoing exercise. “We give thanks and hope that it continues,” he added.

Sixty-five-year-old visually impaired, Elisha Afflick, is expressing appreciation to the Kiwanis Division East 23 and the Abilities Foundation for making a difference in the lives of persons with disabilities, by providing them with care packages containing groceries and other items.

“I feel very pleased and happy that somebody remembers us as disabled persons, because sometimes we feel like we are left out, but we are still happy that somebody around still cares for us, still remembers us, still looking out for us,” the Portmore resident said.

Mr. Afflick, who is a member of the Jamaica Society for the Blind and Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), said he hopes that the assistance will be an ongoing exercise. “We give thanks and hope that it continues,” he added.

He was among a group of 50 persons who were provided with care packages during the first distribution of items from the Food Bank located at the Abilities Foundation premises in St. Andrew, recently.

The Food Bank was officially launched in December 2018 by the Kiwanis Division 23 East, in collaboration with the Abilities Foundation, and aims to address the challenge of food insecurity impacting persons with disabilities and their families.

The Food Bank was undertaken as a major project for Lieutenant Governor, Kiwanis Division 23 East, Pam Rodney White, after discussions with Managing Director, Abilities Foundation, Suzan Hamilton, and other key representatives from as far back as 2017.

“We decided that the Abilities Foundation, in collaboration with Division 23 East, would address the challenge of food insecurity impacting trainees and their families and also persons with disabilities in the surrounding communities with the establishment of a food bank,” she told JIS News.

Ms. White said the project would ensure that the target population has a reliable source of nutritional support. “We plan to add back-to-school items, as that is also an area of great need,” she said.

She pointed out that a database would be developed by liaising with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the JCPD to identify the elderly with disabilities in the surrounding communities, and families on PATH.

Project Director, Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), Elsa Marks Willis (left), looks at the array of food items at the Food Bank located at the Abilities Foundation, in St. Andrew. Occasion was the first distribution from the Food Bank, which was set up by the Kiwanis Division 23 East to assist the disabled community. Others (from second left) are: Lieutenant Governor, Kiwanis Division 23 East, Pam Rodney White; District Governor, Kiwanis Eastern Canada and the Caribbean, Melford Clarke; and Project Chair, Sheron Gilzean.

 

“This project will be ongoing, and so we appeal to the private and the public sectors to provide continuous support and supply of food items to make the venture sustainable. It is also our intention to engage international stakeholders. We appeal, too, for financial support to retrofit the (food) container at a cost of $2.6 million,” Ms. White said.

She thanked all the sponsors for their generous contributions. “Each item we give today and in the future will make a big difference in someone else’s life,” she said.

The club previously assisted the Abilities Foundation with upgrading its computer laboratory. “Having done my major project here as Club President at the Abilities Foundation, that of outfitting the institution with a state-of-the-art computer lab with the assistance of the Universal Service Fund, I once again turned my attention to the Foundation to find out how we could help,” she added.

Managing Director, Abilities Foundation, Suzan Hamilton, thanked all the sponsors and organisers who have contributed to the initiative.

“We are very grateful for… how Kiwanis took on this project from just an idea to reality, and that should also tell us that whatever you conceive, you can achieve. Once you have the thought, once you act on that thought, it becomes a reality. Lt. Governor Pam White did not hesitate with the idea; she just ran with it,” she said.

She said the initiative will be far-reaching and will not only benefit students from the Abilities Foundation. “We have persons here who have registered with the Combined Disabilities Association, Salvation Army School for the Blind, and, later on, we will be offering support to children from Early Stimulation Plus and persons in the Cassava Piece area,” she said.

The Abilities Foundation aims to deliver quality vocational training, and transition students into the workforce, while enabling them to be productive citizens of Jamaica.

It was established in November 1991 and is a registered voluntary organisation. The Foundation works in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the HEART Trust/NTA.

It is the leading organisation offering learning opportunities that will produce graduates who are able to access further education and training and become confident and competent individuals at the workplace and in society at large.