Career & Education

12-year-old US golfer fulfills promise, finances building of St Ann school

Sunday, September 10, 2017

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When the students of Chester Infant School in St Ann returned to begin the new school year last Monday, they found an entirely new school building.

That's because during the summer, using funds donated by 12-year-old US golfer Rafe Cochran, Food For the Poor (FFP)-Jamaica built classrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms, a sick bay, and an office.

The new building, which was handed over on September 1, makes for a more comfortable and spacious teaching and learning 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, a factor which impeded the children's readiness for primary school. The only problem was, there was not enough space to accommodate it. So the school administration applied to FFP-Jamaica for a new school structure, which was approved.

The young golfer, who has been donating to programmes in Haiti since he was nine, raised the funds for the St Ann project from 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 experienced in their classrooms. On his return visit, he saw his vision for a better learning environment realised.

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. You are never too young to take action and make a change in people's lives,” he said.

Delane Bailey-Herd, senior field representative at FFP Inc, who has worked closely with FFP-Jamaica and Cochran, applauded the 12-year-old.

“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 nine 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.”

Director of Region Three at the Ministry of Education Maxine Headlam 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 per cent at the readiness level for certification, as the building would have already met the required standards.”

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