MONTEGO BAY, St James — After warming the hearts of Good Samaritans with his story, 11-year-old Damarco Downer is now set to receive well-needed support to assist him through high school.
Downer, a recent graduate of Howard Cooke Primary School in the parish, was placed at Munro College after a successful performance in this year’s Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations. However, a video was uploaded to the social media platform TikTok with Downer expressing a need for assistance, as his mother Coleen Smith is unable to finance his studies.
According to Smith, her decision to upload the video on social media was heavily criticised by her family members, but she maintained that she felt as if she had no other choice.
“At first I was stressed and crying because my family said I shouldn’t have brought it out to the public. I was not trying to embarrass my family, but Damarco’s father is not playing the role that he should be – that is why I did it,” Smith told the Jamaica Observer.
Smith explained that, having recently started a job as a domestic helper, she was caught by surprise when she learned the cost of tuition to attend Munro College. At the same time, Smith pointed out that, since she did not receive much formal education, she wanted to ensure that her son got exposed to the best opportunities available.
“When I brought him to the school he was so excited. When I got the package and I saw the school fee, mi mouth open same time,” she said.
“When we were coming down the hill I told him I don’t think I can pay that money for him to go there and he just started to cry. I even told him that I was going to send him to either Rusea’s High School or Herbert Morrison Technical High School, and he just continued to cry,” Smith told the Sunday Observer.
Smith was also quick to point out that family members had assisted with providing school supplies for her son; however, she felt as if she also needed to seek additional help.
“I have a cousin who is willing to help me, but I cannot leave all of the load on her. My cousin bought three of his books, three uniforms, and shoes. So she feels bad about me going to the media because she said she would have gone the extra mile, but I could not sit and depend on her,” Smith explained.
Since the minute-long video was uploaded Smith said scores of people have reached out to assist her family. Among those offering support is the People’s National Party (PNP) councillor candidate for the Maroon Town Division Anthony Swaby, who visited the family’s home with good news on Thursday.
Swaby told the Sunday Observer that he was moved by the social media video with young Downer expressing his desire to attend the school of his choice. This, he said, saw him also seeking out the support of Good Samaritans, which he reportedly received.
“So having church members share the video with me, I opted to post it on my social media platform just to see how people could help because, within my own capacity, I would have not been able to assist him by myself, so I had to seek additional support,” said Swaby.
“There is a member of our party, Comrade Don Brownie who has offered to assist him throughout school. So he will be doing continuous support throughout the five years, and there’s a popular blogger known by the name CPR Foundation. He has also pledged to assist throughout his tenure at Munro.
“There is also an overseas foundation that is run by a teacher who is from Jamaica but has migrated. He has also pledged to assist with this tuition there as well. Other people have actually brought in small donations along with myself and other community members,” he added.
Smith further told the Sunday Observer that she is grateful for the support as she could not afford the $155,000 tuition, boarding and other fees per term.
As for her son, she said that he is overcome with joy.