When the students of Chester Infant School in St. Ann returned to begin the new school year on Monday, they were delighted to find an entirely new school building.
During the summer, Food For The Poor (FFP)-Jamaica built classrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms, a sick bay and an office, funded through a generous donation from 12-year-old U.S. golfer Rafe Cochran.
The new building, which was handed over by FFP-Jamaica and Rafe on September 1, creates a more comfortable and spacious learning and teaching environment.
The Infant Department was added to Chester Primary School in 2015, after it became clear that parents could not afford to send their children to privately owned basic schools. This was impeding the children’s readiness for primary school. The inclusion of an Infant Department was deemed necessary, despite a shortage of space to accommodate it. Subsequently, the school administration applied to FFP-Jamaica for a new school structure, which was approved.
The young American golfer, who has been donating to programs in Haiti since he was 9, was happy to support this project. His donation was a result of his fundraising golf event, the Second Annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic in Palm Beach, Florida.
“I am so excited to be back in Jamaica with all of you,” said Rafe, who had visited the school back in March. “It was so rewarding to see the Chester Infant School come to life.”
In March, he saw the crowded conditions that the students faced in their classrooms. On his return visit, he saw his vision for a better learning environment realized.
At the handover, Rafe reminded the students to keep their eyes on their goals and to be agents of change, despite their tender age.
“This school will change lives, and my advice to the students is to focus on your goals and never give up,” Rafe said. “You are never too young to take action and make a change in people’s lives.”
Delane Bailey-Herd, Senior Field Representative at FFP Inc. who has worked closely with FFP-Jamaica and Rafe Cochran, applauded the 12-year-old golfer.
“Rafe, so far, has built nine houses in Haiti and he has also built this school through his funding. This is a young man who is dedicated and determined and inspires me to go on. He golfs with a purpose, to transform people’s lives,” she said.
Bailey-Herd recalled how Rafe became associated with FFP Inc.
“Three years ago, I visited Palm Beach Day Academy in Florida and I spoke to the third-grade class about being a world-changer and helping people,” she said. “Rafe, who was 9 years old at the time, got up at the end of the class and said he wanted to help. He visited Food For The Poor’s head office sometime afterward and started contributing to the charity.”
Maxine Headlam, Regional Director of Region 3 at the Ministry of Education, thanked FFP for its assistance, saying, “Of all the schools that are built and funded by partners, those from Food For The Poor best meet our expectations in terms of reaching certification. When we receive a school built by Food For The Poor, we are at least 80 percent at the readiness level for certification, as the building would have already met the required standards.”
Source: Loop News