Stony Hill, Kingston
The Jamaican capital of Kingston is home to 970,000 people. A key destination for foreign holidaymakers, tourist money has long attracted rural folk to the city. Too often, they are disappointed in their search for decent work and end up amid overcrowding and violence in one of Kingston’s many shanty towns.
Trench Town: a lost opportunity
In the 1960s, the social housing project of Trench Town had become Kingston’s answer to Hollywood, boasting musicians, sportspeople and businessmen. A decade later, Trench Town began to fall into decline. Now, its inhabitants live in extreme poverty with poor infrastructure. Inevitably, such precarious conditions led to a raft of problems, the most serious of these being violent crime.
Nowadays, Trench Town is a terrible place to grow up. Increasing destitution means children are vulnerable to many dangers. Child prostitution is rife across Kingston, with young girls forced to offer sex to older men in exchange for free transportation or a little money. Tragically, parents are often aware this is going on but feel powerless to act due to the extremity of their circumstances.
The tragedy of early motherhood
18% of babies in Jamaica are born to mothers aged 15 to 19. Having a baby this young means these girls cannot complete their education. Without an education, their chances of employment are slim. Worst of all, these girls often end up raising their children alone.
Giving childhood back in our Children's Village at Stony Hill
SOS Children's Villages opened our second Jamaican Village in the suburb of Stony Hill in 198. Overlooking the beautiful Blue Mountain from a hilltop alive with tropical vegetation, our Village here offers a tranquil environment for children who deserve some peace in their lives.
A nursery allows children from the Village and the suburbs of Kingston to experience their first taste of education side by side.
As the children mature and approach adulthood, they move into Kingston to live a semi-independent life in shared accommodation. Here, they undertake vocational training to set them up for a skilled working career or - for those with more academic interests - begin higher education. Education is complemented by guidance from counsellors who help them prepare for independent life, introducing them to the challenges of finance and running a home as well as the exciting pressures of responsibility.
We think it is unacceptable that children in Kingston so often miss out on the opportunities they deserve. At Stony Hill, we give young people a happy childhood and ensure they get the chances they need to thrive.