US-based Cornwall College old boys ‘Share the Wealth’ with 31 local schools

As a freight vessel churns on the high seas towards Jamaican waters, 35,000 students in 31 schools across the island are eagerly anticipating its arrival with a shipment that it is hoped will build information technology and agricultural capacity in their schools.

For the Cornwall College Old Boys Association Mid-Atlantic United States chapter (CCOBAMA), the shipment of IT and agricultural equipment marks the second phase of its ‘Share the Wealth’ initiative that grew out of its decision to share an oversupply of gifts with 25 other needy schools last year.

Backed by the Sandals Foundation which has a soft spot for education, the Partnership to Build Information Technology and Agricultural Capacity in Schools, as it was billed this year, has quickly attracted other schools and sponsors.

“We are proud to have again received the support of Sandals Foundation and we join them in their efforts to address agricultural education,” Neville Bell, the CCOBAMA special projects coordinator told the Jamaica Observer.

“We recognise that agriculture is not an area in which our group has sufficient expertise, and as much are proud to announce that we have agreed to collaborate with Farm Up Jamaica, an agro-focused charity based here in the Diaspora,” he said.

Director of operations at Sandals Foundation Karen Zacca said the foundation had been encouraged by the Cornwall College Old Boys’ support of its own food security initiative by facilitating an agricultural component in Phase 11 of the programme this year.

“Agriculture education will be key to ensuring sustained knowledge transfer and so we are excited to support the efforts of Maldon High as we enhance digital literacy in their agricultural efforts,” argued Zacca.

The bulk of the information technology equipment for this shipment was donated by private companies in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey. CCOBAMA also partnered with other alumni associations such as Maldon High School, Montego Bay High School, Anchovy High School, and others, as well as with the Having P.U.R.P.O.S.E charity.

A new feature of the collaboration is the participation of the four-year-old Jamaican American Law Enforcement Organization (JAmLEO) which comprises Jamaicans working with the New York Police Department (NYPD). In December 2021, JAmLEO became the first recognised Jamaican fraternal organisation in the NYPD.

Danae McFarlane, corresponding secretary for NYPD JAmLEO, said: “We pledge to teach cultural sensitivity and awareness of the rich Jamaican culture while supporting the community we serve. Today we stand with CCOBAMA in support of phase II of their ‘Share the Wealth’ initiative‚Ķto further enrich our mutual purpose of serving our homeland.”

Early Saturday morning last week, the participants gathered at Hillside New Jersey to prepare and crate desktop computers, laptops, wireless access points, laser printers, server rack and agricultural equipment for shipping to Jamaica.

Beyond the equipment, CCOBAMA is also facilitating the provision of the expertise of a group of IT professionals in the Diaspora who have offered their services for free to the schools to help in their efforts to set up robust IT infrastructures, said Bell who was seen operating a forklift truck.

He added: “Sending digital equipment to Jamaican schools will have a significant impact on the way the lesson plan is delivered and way the students receive, prepare, research, and complete their assignments. Additionally, the donation of agricultural equipment and supplies will provide a boost to the feeding programme of many schools.”

The association is also seeking the assistance of individuals and corporations to help to defray the cost of upgrades and purchase of equipment and shipping the items to Jamaica.

“Our collective efforts will once again make a significant impact on the lives of countless students and educators in Jamaica, empowering them with the tools they need to succeed in their education,” said Michael Williams, president of CCOBAMA.

Andrew Lee, CEO of eLearning Jamaica was pleased with the effort, saying: “It was an amazing experience to see the team coming together in New Jersey to load a container of technological tools destined for schools all across Jamaica. Our country can only be better with this effort by members of the Diaspora. A special commendation to Neville Bell and Trevor Tomlinson for their hard work and commitment to Jamaica and our children.”

Beneficiary schools are: Albion; Herbert Morrison; Mount Osborn Primary; Manchester High; Marymount; Montego Bay High School; Mt. Alvernia; Westwood; Cornwall College; Knockalva; Technical High School; Central High; Green Island;Tivoli High; Vaughansfield Primary & Infant; NET; eLearning; Dumfries Primary and Infant School; Maldon High; Anchovy High; Catherine Hall Primary and Infant School;

Carthagena Basic School; Regent Street SDA Early Development Centre; Cambridge Infant School; William Knibb; Stratton Early Development Centre; Denbigh High School; Mount Providence Primary; Pleasant Valley Primary and Infant School; Refuge Primary; Braes River Primary School; Mt Salem Infant and Primary School.