We bring you seasons greetings from the tourist heart throb of our nation Montego Bay, Jamaica. SOS Children’s Village Barrett Town is nestled in one of the most secret and lush hideaways located near hotels such as Ritz Carlton, Wyndham Rose Hall and Sea Castles. Because of our unique location we have been blessed to have had many visitors at our village.
Our children have been truly blessed this year in that many of them have been very successful in their academic endeavours. We have a number of children who moved on from primary and high schools while some went to tertiary education. One of our girls was extremely successful by passing all her end of year exams and is now enrolled at a prominent university pursuing a degree in nursing. She and 2 other children received scholarships from one of our past children (who has a doctorate in Marine Biology) along with local government offices. In addition to that 1 youngster from the male facility joined one of our girls at the GC Foster College where he is pursuing a teaching diploma. So far they are both doing well.
The SOS Jane Veira Nursery school led by the leadership of a new head teacher; has begun to see some changes and there is much expectations for an improved school year. The school led the Heritage week celebrations on the Village this year and it was a great success. There were cultural groups brought in and the children and the visitors that just dropped by because the sound of the African drums could be heard from far away, all enjoyed themselves. The children recited old local gems and they also sang songs from the old days that made the eyes water. Many children brought home medals from their schools annual sports day, which is normally held during the first quarter of the year. The children participated in variety of events, from the sack race to the 100 metre dash.
Our nation has been ecstatic with what can only be dubbed “Sports Fever”, because of the great achievements of our local athletes, namely, Usain Bolt, the World record holder for the phenomenal 100 metre race record of 9.58 seconds. Usain’s outstanding achievement has left our nation in a focal point of sports and our children have been using his achievement to feed their own stamina and they showcased this on the tracks or on the courts. Every Saturday our children are involved in an hour of football training, spearheaded by one of our local football heroes, Aaron Lawerence, who dedicates his Saturday mornings to teaching the children the fundamentals of football. Having attended the football camp every summer makes them only too eager to continue these sessions every Saturday.
The annual football camp took place in August. It lasted for 5 days and culminated with a splashing beach party. The camp is most anticipated and the children continue to gain skills in football but also some key social skills.
May is renowned world wide as Child’s Month and our village celebrated as usual; a special church service was held and there were various groups who came in just wanting to donate their time and to interact with the children. Workshops which spoke to areas of self development were held and this saw a number of children participating very interactively in the. National Labour Day celebrations in the same month saw a number of different organisations volunteering that day at our facility, assisting with beautification of the property and also treating and playing with our children. There was one sponsor who ‘forgot’ that there was a house on the village that they adopted and so they used this day to make up for time lost by providing some paint to brighten up and also assisted with weeding the back garden. There were many other groups who just turned up to give back some time and to play with the children. At the end of the day we gained new friends, rejuvenated gardens while giving other areas a face lift.
Mother’s Day was celebrated with a luncheon and gift giving ceremony fro the mothers. It was wonderful to see them all dressed up and were cheered on by the children as they made their way elegantly to the waiting transportations.
July this year marked a change in the leadership of our national association. Anita Tharpe who served us for 5 years as National Director resigned and Gregory Wint took up the position. Charlene Johnson who once served us as social worker is now the new village director for our village and we wish both of them every success in their new positions.
The year’s activities took the form of more family oriented outings and events. Families went on trips, picnics and had more birthday parties together; there was also an exciting trip to the Money Museum and to other local parks. Our facility at the moment boasts 28 members of staff and 101 children. Our capacity for children is 117 and we are presently involved in an admissions campaign to ensure that more children in need find a place like ours to call home.
Plans are still in place for the music programme and we hope to launch it by the end of the year. We presently own a number of guitars, a piano and some recorders and also a drum set; we will source a tutor to facilitate training. For the Home Work programme we will source teachers who are willing to volunteer at the facility in the evenings to engage the children in academic studies assisted by our mothers and aunts as well. These sessions will range from remedial reading to mathematics for high school students.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th each year. This year we made all the preparation to deal with the season given the recent active seasons we have experienced. As the season is near an ending and without any activity, thankfully we still remain vigilant, and monitor all weather activities and keep our hurricane equipment and supply up to date.
Overall 2009 has been a very blessed year for us even with the worldwide recession. Because of you our faithful sponsors and friends we were able to carry out our mission: “We build families for children in need, we help them shape their own future and share in the development of their communities,” We are forever grateful for your support throughout this year and the ones gone by and we look forward to even greater support in the years to come. We wish you many happy returns on the joyous season and hope that the New Year will bring you and your family prosperity unbounded.