For more than 15 years, Chris Davitt and Craig Ruppert, along with their families and friends from the United States, have changed the lives of more than 160 families in Jamaica and Haiti in partnership with Food For The Poor (FFP) Jamaica.
Davitt and Ruppert have travelled to Jamaica each year since 2001 with a team of volunteers to construct several houses for people who need a safe and secure place to live.
This year, a group of 50 volunteers and staff members of FFP Jamaica built 16 houses, one chicken coop and a pig pen in the Clarendon communities of Race Course, Hayes Field and Banks.
Midge McDonald, who received one of the 16 houses, said the gift would be transformative because of the challenges she faced at the old home she shared with her brother.
“The floor is made of board and it was very shaky and there were holes all over. The roof was also in a poor state because when it rain it leaked badly,” said McDonald.
“I’ve fallen through the floor before and had to go to the hospital for treatment, and so we were in desperate need of a house,” continued McDonald, who received the keys to her house during a recent ceremony.
Tackee Anderson, who was also living in a dilapidated house, expressed happiness at getting a new one.
“My cousin and I were always worried that the one-room structure we were living in with our two children would one day fall down on us. We are really grateful and we give thanks to our donors for making our lives better,” said Anderson.
Speaking at the handover ceremony at the Race Course Primary School, Ruppert promised that his team would return to Jamaica next year to construct housing solutions for more needy families.
“We really want to thank all the beneficiaries and their families for welcoming us to your homes and community in such a special way. We enjoy what we do in coming down every year to build houses for needy families in Jamaica, and the smiles, happiness and gratitude you have shared with the team over the years convince us that you are appreciative of us and what we are doing in your community,” said Ruppert.