Regional

iCAN Foundation gifts Risen Messiah ECI cheque, resource centre

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer West writer

Thursday, September 12, 2019

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GOOD HOPE, Westmoreland — Risen Messiah Early Childhood Institution in Good Hope, Negril recently received a cheque for $120,000 and a resource centre, while a one-month summer training workshop was opened to the wider community — all made possible by the iCAN Foundation and its partners.

The school's resource centre, which received six computers, three laptops, a projector, a UPS and a printer, was established through the iCAN Foundation Computer Literacy Programme and sponsored by Microsoft Business Leader in the Netherlands, Rene Van Haaster, to the tune of $2.5 million.

Over 75 individuals, comprising of teachers, community members and children ages three to 16 years old in and around the Good Hope community, were trained in computing, held over a two-shift period daily for one month during August.

Executive founder of iCAN Foundation Omar Evans said, “in the end, this programme is acclaiming to a bigger part of tourism, 'voluntourism', where a volunteer comes to Jamaica, gives of his time, helps the community and in term learns about the culture.”

“So we believe that in line with vision 20/30 we are playing our part by helping to increase the literacy and numeracy and reduce illiteracy in the community. So, by giving the community computers, we are enabling the kids to come here have an opportunity to do the school work, because, with the new shift with PEP (Primary Exit Profile) test, each kid has to have internet access in order to do their assignments. So, this is a big step in helping the community grow and develop,” stated Evans, who thanked the school, community members and volunteers for making the project a reality.

During Van Haaster's eight-week summer vacation in Jamaica, he not only put into operation and installed the computing network with full Microsoft licensed programmes, but was an instructor during the workshop held in Negril in August.

“My wife and I love Jamaica. The food, the culture, [and] the people. We travel around here like six times before, so, I love Jamaica and my father was a teacher for 40 years. So I thought, ok, I have eight weeks of holiday, so let's give back,” stated Van Haaster as he explained how he got involved with the iCAN Foundation.

He was pleased with the outcome of the workshop.

“We had teachers who have never worked with a PC and after four days of training, they were making books in Excel. So, I think, to me, the greatest reward is that the children, small and large, the teachers and adults never used a mouse or a PC, and after four, five days of training they were literally making their own Excel files…,” reflected Van Haaster.

Principal of the school, Karen Ennis, who commended her staff for taking time off from their summer break to participate in the workshop, also used the opportunity to express her appreciation on behalf of the school and the community to iCAN Foundation for the support they have given the community.

“We had teachers who knew about the computer, but they haven't had much experience and so he (Van Haaster) had given them the experience they needed, so, with that, they are going to take that knowledge, and we will be incorporating all the training that we have had into the curriculum and we are going to be using it every day,” explained Ennis.

“For the children, when they leave Risen Messiah, they will be fully computer literate. I can add to that, that we are now moving to PEP. PEP means critical thinking, so the children can develop all of that, so by the time they get to the primary schools, they are ready,” explained Ennis, pointing out that the computers will assist greatly with the school's current homework club.

The school, which was established 15 years ago, has 58 students enrolled and four teachers. The building was made possible by the Risen Messiah Ministries out of Miami in the United States of America, and is one of eight early childhood institutions in the Negril area that serves communities, such as Little London, Nonpariel Road, Mount Airy, Red Ground, Sheffield, Retirement and Good Hope.

The iCAN Foundation which was founded in 2013 and is based in Kingston, is a registered charitable organisation under the Jamaica Charities Act.

Over the years, the foundation has joined forces with other organisations and individuals to tackle the systemic issues related to poverty and its ensuing challenges, such as barriers with education and wealth creation.

The foundation has made several donations including books and computers to institutions across Jamaica. They also assist with the expansion of basic schools infrastructure, fund agriculture micro-enterprise projects and hosted of basketball camps in partnership with other organisations.


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