Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Andrew Gallimore, has appealed to Corporate Jamaica to come to the aid of the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD), while pledging his Ministry’s full support for the cash-strapped institution.
“We are going to try, from the Ministry, to see what we will be able to do to assist. They do get some assistance from the Ministry of Education, but we are urging all our local corporate citizens, who have the ability to give some assistance, to do so,” he stated.
The State Minister was speaking to journalists during a tour of the school’s Kingston campus today (March 26). This followed reports that the school may face closure, due to rising operating costs and dwindling support from overseas sponsors who provide the majority of sponsorship.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Andrew Gallimore, (left) is taught how to sign ‘good morning’ by Principal of the Kingston campus of the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf, Maria Lawrence, (right) during his tour of the facility on Thursday (March 26). In the background is, Managing Director of the Centre, Donville Jones.
“The problem, right now, is the day-to- day cash requirements, not for capital works, but for operating and providing for the 261 Jamaican children coming from all different parishes. There is a genuine need there,” he explained.
Shortly before touring the school’s Kingston campus on Thursday, Mr. Gallimore met with the officials. He explained the purpose of the meeting during the tour.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Andrew Gallimore, (second right) speaks with Roger Stoller, (right )team leader of a 44-member Sunday School class from the Gridley Apostolic Church, Illinois, in the United States of America, who have been carrying out various construction works at the Kingston campus of the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf. Also pictured are Principal of the Centre’s Kingston campus, Maria Lawrence (second left) and Managing Director of the Centre, Donville Jones. The State Minister toured the facility on Thursday (March 26) following reports that the school may close.
“What we had been doing in our earlier meeting is trying to brainstorm to see exactly how these needs can be met, because the Centre has been providing a critical role in taking care of our deaf and our hearing impaired for over 50 years,” he said.
He admitted that he had called the meeting after seeing a report in the newspapers on Wednesday morning (March 25) about the problems. He and his Permanent Secretary, Alvin McIntosh, met with Maria Lawrence, Principal of the Kingston campus to see how best they could assist.
The Minister explained that the purpose of the tour was to get a clearer understanding of the problems the school faces.
“We were not aware of how harsh the situation was with them. We’ve come here today, and we are going back now to speak with the powers that be, to see what level of assistance we can give. We have also met with them (school officials), to look at several different avenues where assistance could come from,” Mr. Gallimore said.
He went on to praise the school for having “opened many doors”, which would have otherwise been closed to deaf persons.
“They have helped to sensitise the Jamaican public as to exactly what persons who face this disability are still capable of doing,” he said.
“At this institution, the service that they are providing is invaluable. We cannot afford to have a void in our society, and this institution will be preserved. We will work with them and we are confident that others will work with them,” he commented.
Without the school, most of the children would be at home, unable to read and write, Mr. Gallimore said.
The CCCD was established in 1958. It has campuses in Kingston, Mandeville, Manchester and Montego Bay, St. James and caters to hearing impaired students from pre-school to the high school level. A total of 261 students are enrolled at the campuses – 85 in Kingston, 120 in Mandeville and 56 in Montego Bay.
Managing Director of the Centre, Donville Jones, also urged Jamaicans to assist the school.
“We are looking after our own Jamaican children, and it’s time we stop depending totally on foreign support. We need Jamaicans to help, and Jamaicans can help. They have demonstrated that before,” he insisted.
He pointed out that some older students were already placed in vocational training through the Abilities Foundation and the Heart Trust/NTA and work experience at places like Jamaica National.
“There are scores of deaf adults who have passed through our school who are working in hotels, in printing, computer (technology), in construction, in all areas where you don’t require hearing,” Mr. Jones added.
Miss Lawrence said that the Kingston campus is the only boarding facility at the eastern end of the island. It also accommodates students from St.Thomas, St. Catherine, Portland and St. Mary.
She said that even though the Kingston campus does not provide vocational training services, students are taught information technology and sewing. The Mandeville campus, however, offers all sorts of vocational training, including food and nutrition, information technology, cosmetology, plumbing and garment construction.
Turning to the operations of the school, she explained that work teams from different churches and organisations, schools and colleges provide support from overseas. They go to the different campuses and carry out works, including construction, ministering and assisting with teaching. Each group normally stays for a week.
“When the work teams come, that helps to bring in revenue, as they would pay their own way, pay for the material being used, pay for their food and boarding,” Miss Lawrence went on.
There is currently a 44-member Sunday School class from the Gridley Apostolic Church in Illinois, United States, carrying out various construction works at the Kingston campus. She insists that, despite what is being said, the school will not close.
“The word is going out that we are going to close. It’s not that we are going to close, we are just asking persons to come on board and help us to help our deaf children,” Miss Lawrence said.