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Story Highlights

  • Hundreds of students across western Jamaica are to benefit from over 1,000 children’s books
  • The donation was facilitated by the US-based agency, Blue World Travel
  • The passengers opted to give back through a book drive

Hundreds of students across western Jamaica are to benefit from over 1,000 children’s books which were presented to representatives of the Ministry of Education and Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) by passengers of the cruise ship, Festival at Sea, which docked in Montego Bay, St. James, last week.

The donation was facilitated by the San Francisco, California-based agency, Blue World Travel, in the United States, through its Children’s Book Drive, in collaboration with the operators of Festival at Sea.

The project, launched some 21 years ago, enables passengers and other stakeholders associated with the agency and vessel to donate educational literature to youngsters living in any of the towns or cities, and their environs, where the ship makes a port of call. This, in a kind gesture of gratitude to stakeholders at the destinations visited where the hospitality extended was deemed satisfactory.

Addressing passengers from the ship and other participants during the handing over ceremony at the Montego Bay Ship Terminal, JTB Regional Director, Rose Marie Johnson, expressed gratitude for the ‘generous’ contribution, noting that the gesture is consistent with the agency’s ‘voluntourism’ initiative.

“Your contribution of reading books will substantially boost Jamaica’s literacy programme, as many students will benefit from reading the books over the coming years, thereby creating a multiplier effect. Voluntourism has become a global business among travelers wanting to engage in meaningful trips by dedicating part of their vacation to voluntary service,” Mrs. Johnson said.

She pointed out that the tangible contributions made have engendered sentiments of fulfillment by the participating volunteers whom she said have expressed being “equally blessed and encouraged” by the outpouring of gratitude from the recipients and beneficiaries.

“We are happy that you have chosen Jamaica as one of your ports of call. Thank you for choosing Jamaica as the recipient of your kind donation of more than 1,000 children’s books. We appreciate the fact that in the midst of planning your vacation, you (the crew) and the passengers took the time to make the children of Jamaica one of your priorities by each donating books. The stories in these books will stimulate and bring to life the imaginations of the many children who will read them,” Mrs. Johnson said.

President of Blue World Travel, Patricia Yarbrough, informed that the passengers, having come to Jamaica and experienced the warm hospitality extended to them, indicated the need to give something back, and opted to do so through the book drive initiative.

“The idea of giving back to Jamaica was adopted by all passengers as we have come to your beautiful island and you have hosted us so graciously. These books, therefore, are our way of giving back and saying thank you Jamaica. These books are from the passengers and will go a far way in enriching all of us, not just the children,” Ms. Yarbrough pointed out.

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