Sponsor a child in Jamaica
Despite Jamaica's powerful cultural identity, children often grow up in a violent and abusive world. Poverty is widespread. One in every two Jamaicans who live in poverty is a child even though children make up less than 50% of the population. SOS Children has supported young Jamaicans since the 1970s.
You can help Jamaican children growing up alone by sponsoring a child with SOS Children's Villages:Sponsor a child in Jamaica
A violent nation
Living standards are on the rise for the people in Jamaica, and life expectancy is fairly high as well. Despite this, violence is a profound problem, with thousands of murders every year. Gang culture such a profound problem that in certain areas it is unsafe to go out after dusk without a real risk of being shot. Sadly, violence against gay people is on the rise, in a country where homosexuality remains illegal and prejudice rife.
A dangerous childhood
Hardship is the norm for children growing up in Jamaica. A particular problem is the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Widespread in Jamaica, the disease leaves many children orphaned. Tens of thousands of Jamaican children grow up without one or both parents, and many of these are forced to lead households. Alongside this, children face countless other difficulties:
- 16.5% of children live in extreme poverty, either with their parents or as orphans.
- Nearly all children are touched by violence - research suggests that six in ten children are related to a murder victim.
- Many girls suffer sexual violence. Despite efforts by the government, cases of rape are rising fast.
- On the streets of Kingston, young boys sell merchandise, clean car windscreens, or simply beg for a living.
Our work in Jamaica
We began work in Jamaica in 1972 when we opened our first Village near the important city and tourist hotspot of Montego Bay.
This was complemented a decade later by our Village in Stony Hill on the opposite side of the country to our first Village, just outside the capital Kingston.
Our Children's Village in Barrett Town was opened by world-renowned country singer Johnny Cash, a big supporter of our work. As well as providing a home for well over 100 children who have lost their parents, we furnish children with the skills they need for a successful and prosperous career.
An SOS Nursery provides an introduction to learning for many children from the Village as well as the local community. When children are ready to leave their SOS home, we help them on their way to independent living by through shared accommodation. While undertaking higher study or vocational training, young adults enjoy the support of counsellors who work with them to talk through and prepare for the challenges of adult life.
Twelve years after we began helping children near Montego Bay, we opened our Village in Stony Hill on the outskirts of Jamaica's capital. As in Barrett Town, we offer nursery schooling to young children from the Village as well as the surrounding area.
Stony Hill is also home to a primary school, and after completing their secondary education, young people can return to embark on vocational training or further study. When ready to leave our care, older children can move on to shared accommodation in Kingston, where we offer them advice on guidance, preparing them for the financial and personal pressures they will face in adult life.
Life in SOS Children's Village Jamaica: A success story …
Suzette Crawford was taken in at SOS Children's Village Barrett Town in Jamaica when she was just two months old. There she grew up with her nine SOS Children's Village brothers and sisters in the care of an SOS mother. That is the only family she has ever known and is naturally the place she calls "home", a place she associates with security and wellbeing.
After leaving school, where she was a model pupil, Suzette wanted to do something useful in the SOS Children's Village to show her gratitude. She started work in Barrett Town helping in the office but later, having demonstrated her abilities in various school projects and remedial coaching for some of the younger pupils, she joined the educational staff there. In that position Suzette, with her wide-ranging interests, quickly showed that she had potential for a higher education herself.
With the help of the Hermann Gmeiner Memorial Fund established by Norwegian sponsors, Suzette received a grant for a university degree course and enrolled as a student at the Shaw University of North Carolina in the USA, where she graduated with a B.Sc. in Economics at the age of 23.
As the first university graduate at SOS Children's Village Barrett Town, Suzette is of course the pride of her family and friends. But she is still the kind young lady she always was and a fine example to her younger brothers and sisters.
SOS Children's Village of Jamaica Foundation
Montego Bay 2
Tel: +1/876/95 26 215, +1/876/97 95 850
Fax: +1/876/97 95 855