The lives of boys of the Goodwin Park Hostel, in Kingston, are expected to be enriched through their participation in income generating projects, facilitated by the European Union (EU).
This forms part of an overall $7.89 million rehabilitation project being implemented under the EU’s Poverty Reduction Programme II (PRP II), by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).
The project will see the construction of an ornamental fish farm, a vegetable garden, a chicken coop and a slaughter house to provide an income for the beneficiaries who are street and at-risk boys, aged 10 to 18.
Infrastructure works are also to be undertaken at the facility as part of the rehabilitation project.
A contract was signed to undertake the project during a ceremony at the facility’s Allman Town location on April 11.
Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, welcomed the initiative that will build the capacity of the hostel, which he described as “a lifeline for many”.
“The boys who will come here do not have stable families that they could stay with. They need a place like this and they don’t just need the concrete and the bricks, they need the love and care that they will get from the staff here,” he said.
Rev. Thwaites, who is also Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, charged residents of the community to adopt the boys in the home, “and make sure that good comes to them and make sure they are disciplined.”
General Manager, Project Management, JSIF, Loy Malcolm, noted that the agency was pleased to provide further support to the hostel, which is in keeping with the Government’s thrust to better support those most vulnerable within the society.
“It is critical that as we aim to fulfill the mission to improve the social and economic circumstances of the country, that we consider and address the needs of this vulnerable and at-risk group,” she said.
This is the second project being undertaken by JSIF at the hostel. In 2006, the organisation was involved in the construction of the perimeter fence and equipping the home with funding from the World Bank.
Ms. Malcolm pointed out that to date, JSIF has rehabilitated or improved the facilities at 16 homes across the island.
“Our activities here will ensure that the Child Development Agency (CDA) will be able to continue to give its stamp of approval to the operations of the facility and the facility will be much better able to meet the needs of the population that it serves,” she said.
For his part, Head of Operations for the EU in Jamaica, Jesús Orús Báguena, said the organization was particularly pleased to be involved with projects such as these, which focus on assisting the most vulnerable.
“This is why the European Union works in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica to provide support to projects such as this.The Poverty Reduction Programme includes a special emphasis on initiatives aimed at facilitating the positive development of vulnerable male youth aged 14 to 24,” he said.
To be completed within four months, the scope of works include: the renovation of the kitchen; construction of a computer laboratory; provision of mesh screens to the windows and doors; tiling of countertops; construction of a store room; repairs to roof, to include screening and waterproofing; renovation of the dormitory, to include replacement of doors as well as termite treatment, minor electrical works and some painting.
The community has contributed more than 25 per cent of the cost of the project in kind.
The Goodwin Park Hostel is operated under the Possibility Programme of the Rotary Club of St Andrew.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter