Helping Hands Jamaica is Transforming the Path to Education

Photo © Courtesy of Helping Hands Jamaica

By Raye Mocioiu

Education is the cornerstone of a thriving society, empowering individuals to reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to their communities. However, for many students in Jamaica, access to quality education remains a challenge—that’s where Helping Hands Jamaica comes in.

The Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF) believes that every child deserves an equal opportunity to thrive academically, athletically, and personally. In the pursuit of this mission, the HHJF has pioneered groundbreaking programs aimed at empowering students and uplifting educational standards in Jamaica.

Life-Changing Impact

Principal Tanisha Thompson started teaching in her early 20s. Initially looking for a position as a cook, she began her career in education by filling in for a teacher on maternity leave. A motivator at heart, she found that teaching was a natural fit—she fell in love with teaching, furthering her own education at the same time.

For years, Thompson volunteered her services as a teacher. It was a difficult time, balancing the needs of the children she had come to love with the needs of her own family. With a dream of starting her own school and the motivation to make it happen, Thompson began reaching out to non-profit organizations to apply for a donor building, gathering funds and resources to bring the school to life.

With the full encouragement of parents, who pledged their continued support, Goodwill Early Childhood Learning Centre started with only eight children, all under the age of six years old, in a shared building in the parish of Portland.

Thompson’s continued dedication paid off—inspired by her enthusiasm, HHJF connected with Thompson through their implementing partner, Food for the Poor. Marking the beginning of a fruitful partnership, Thompson was matched with a donor building, and HHJF became a pillar of support in the development of the school.

“It all paid off,” she explained. “The donor building we got could not have been a better match—it was fully furnished, with a sick bay, a kitchen, a store room. It was just amazing.”

helping hands jamaica
© Courtesy of Helping Hands

Goodwill Early Childhood Learning Centre opened its doors on January 6th, 2022, thanks to the generous financial donation from Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation and in memory of founding board member Denise Jones.

As the school grew and developed, HHJF and Food for the Poor supported Principal Thompson and her staff, providing them with access to furniture, laptops, and food supplies. Time after time, the support has paid off—the ambitious school has since invited HHJF and Food for the Poor staff members to attend Goodwill Early Childhood Learning Centre’s graduation ceremony, a milestone of its continued success.

“It’s all about the children and serving our community and our people,” said Principal Thompson. “That’s what we are passionate about!”

The Path to Education

Central to the HHJF’s mission is the “Path to Education” fundraising stream, which aims to support primary schools in Jamaica, such as the Goodwill Early Childhood Learning Centre. In the wake of challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a significant decline in literacy rates, the campaign seeks to revitalize education by improving infrastructure, providing technology resources, and fostering community engagement.

Building strong communities starts at the local level, and HHJF understands the power of extending these opportunities to the community. The “Adopt a School” campaign allows individuals, businesses, and volunteers to contribute to transforming education in Jamaica. By pledging financial support, businesses can become corporate partners, offering monetary assistance and valuable mentorship and internship opportunities. Similarly, volunteers can lend their time and expertise to renovation projects, workshops, and mentorship programs, making a tangible difference in the lives of students and the broader community.

The impact of these initiatives extends far beyond the classroom, creating a ripple effect of positive change throughout Jamaica. By investing in education, HHJF is not only unlocking the potential of individual students but also building a brighter future for generations to come.

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