Our prayers were answered - Principal happy after school gets new home
A cramped room, termite-infested roof and dislocation were some of the challenges that Lloyds Basic School in St Thomas faced over the years as the early-childhood institution did not occupy a building of its own.
The school, which was once housed in a church, was asked to vacate the premises last year, forcing the principal to move her 30 charges into a section of an abandoned house that had no proper bathroom or kitchen.
The many prayers of teachers, parents and children for a structure of their own was answered when Food For The Poor (FFP) Canada and FFP Jamaica joined forces to construct the much-needed building.
Lloyds Basic's new structure boasts three classrooms, an office area, sickbay, sanitation facilities, a fully equipped kitchen, playground and fencing.
The school is now is a better position to serve Lloyds and other far-flung districts as the new structure can accommodate 60 pupils, potentially doubling the student population.
Speaking at the handing-over ceremony for the new building recently, principal Elesha Cuthbert said the intervention from FFP had been the silver lining she had dreamt of during the years of not having a building of their own.
"The miracle of seeing this building gives me nothing but joy. This is such a timely donation, as it comes at a time when communities and the rest of the world are trying to move our children in line with the 21st-century educational standards," stated Cuthbert.
Canadian Donette Chin-Loy Chang, financed the construction of the facility in memory of her late husband G. Raymond Chang, who grew up in St Thomas. She said that this was one way she and her husband had wanted to assist development in Jamaica.
"The building of early-childhood schools is one of several ways I continue to stay connected and share Ray's dream for Jamaica. It's about helping to build communities and in some way enable a better life for the next generation," added Chin-Loy Chang.
Speaking at the ceremony, FFP Jamaica Chairman Andrew Mahfood lauded the results of the collaborative effort between FFP Canada and Jamaica.
"FFP and our donors recognise that every child deserves to learn and develop in a comfortable, spacious and secure environment," said Mahfood. Since 2009, FFP Jamaica and Canadian donors have collaborated to build 20 schools to rescue infants from cramped classroom spaces and have seen hundreds of students benefiting.
Thirty Canadian volunteers assisted with the construction of the new structure for Lloyds Basic School.