The highlight of our week at Negril, Jamaica was a return visit to the Happy Hearts School for 3, 4 and 5 year olds. We visited there last year as a part of a Sandals Foundation tour group. The Sandals corporation operates one Sandals, two Beaches (including Beaches Sandy Bay where we vacationed) and the Grand Pineapple Beach resorts in Negril, as well as many others throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean.
We fell in love with the students and the environment created by a dedicated Principal and teacher at this tiny, struggling school.
It is a nurturing, safe haven in a sea of poverty. When we look out at the smiling happy faces, it is hard to believe how difficult life is for many of these kids. Some of the children’s homes are so dysfunctional that little guys cry at the end of the school day because they do not want to go home.
Wayne read a story to the class, we listened to the children sing songs to us and shared a whole lot of hugs–those kids just couldn’t get enough hugs. We also got the details on the school robbery. Just before the beginning of the instructional year, unknown people broke into the kitchen area and stole the freezer that stores the children’s food, the propane tank holding the gas to cook it, the large water igloo that held the kids’ supply, two fans, a food container and other small items. The loss was devastating and heart-rending.
The school is really little more than a one-room shack. At places you can see the sky through the walls. Getting enough supplies necessitates extreme creative effort accompanied by a lot of prayers. The building is off the road a bit behind a cluster of trees and cannot be seen from the street. The location combined with the ramshackle nature of the structure make it very vulnerable to heartless thieves.
They want to build a new school. They have property and managed to raise enough money to put in the foundation slab. They need to raise more funds to continue the construction. If you would like to help with a donation of money or supplies, contact the principal, Helen-Ann Clarke at email@example.com. But be patient while you wait for a response–internet access is not an easy thing for Ms. Clarke and it may take time for her to get back to you.