Kingston, Jamaica – September 22, 2023: For the Director of the SOS Children’s Village, Stony Hill, Jason Brown, the recent establishment of a fruit and vegetable garden courtesy of the JPS Foundation (JPSF), is a dream come true as the initiative formed part of his organization’s sustainability efforts.
The SOS Children’s Village Jamaica, which is a private, non-governmental social development organization, aims to take care of children in need. There are two such villages in Jamaica, Stony Hill in Kingston and Barrett Town in St. James. The former village, which was founded in 1984, is home to eight SOS families that provide a loving home for up to 60 children and young people, who have lost parental care.
“The JPS Foundation is making the dream of SOS Children’s Village come true for this year because we had this plan of developing a garden and, we were struggling with how to do that,” he said, adding that, the village not only bought into Jamaica’s mission of “eat what you grow,” but had the space to accommodate the garden.
Until the partnership with JPSF, Mr. Brown acknowledged that “the reality is the funding and the push that we needed to carry out this mission was very slim”.
The collaboration was a no-brainer for the JPSF according to its Head, Mrs. Sophia Lewis, who explained that having visited the village earlier this year, they were so impacted by the work of the organization that there was a need to provide support. It also helped that the areas of need aligned perfectly with the mission of the JPSF, especially as it related to sustainability projects and the promotion of climate-resilient initiatives (planting trees).
“The SOS Children’s Village wants to be sustainable and they have a sustainability plan. At the JPS Foundation, the environment is very important to us and we believe in doing sustainability projects and climate-resilient projects,” she highlighted.
Therefore, in addition to distributing back-to-school supplies to approximately 54 residents and also giving a motivational talk, the Foundation galvanized the VOLTS (JPS Volunteers on Location to Serve) to assist the SOS Village in starting its vegetable and fruit garden.
Our relationship with the children of the SOS Village will not stop here, as we believe in sustainability and in helping the caregivers at the Village to be able to provide the best care to the residents there,” Mrs. Lewis stated.
Meanwhile, when recalling the day when the garden was established, Mr. Brown said of the VOLTS, “They worked, they dug, they planted, they were sweating and they were involved and were having a great time bringing to light a mission we have here at the village”.
For VOLT, Carla Cowan, a JPS Customer Relations Representative, the creation of the garden was a lot of hard work, which included, plowing, planting, and watering the soil. Not to mention enduring the humidity.
“It was very good being out with not only the SOS children but also with my colleagues. For me, volunteering is a big ticket item. I always like giving back to the community and making an impact on the lives of other people,” Ms. Cowan shared, adding that she was thrilled to participate.
Another VOLT, Patricia Gayle, a JPS Project Engineer echoed similar sentiments, stating that although it was humid, the team made it easy to endure because they took turns doing what had to be done, which led to the creation of the garden.
On hand also were members of the Mona Engineering Society, who were keen on giving back to the community. “We are always volunteering and we ensure that in our calendar of events we include some community outreach programs,” said Breanna Bisnott, noting that it was a perfect opportunity to give back, as the children from the village could be future engineers.
It is expected that the vegetable and fruit garden will go a long way in offsetting operational costs at the organization.
The JPSF was established in 2012 and plays a key role in facilitating the JPS’s contribution to nation-building, focusing on the environment and education.