Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | July 22, 2009
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Five projects vie for community awards

Administrative assistant at the Point Hill Diagnostic Reading Centre, Doreen McFarlane, assists children with computer training in this 2008 photograph. - JIS Photo

When the curtain opens on the presentation of the Michael Manley Award for Community Self-Reliance and the EFJ Award at the Little Theatre on Emancipation Day, five projects across Jamaica will be vying for the top spot.

The Michael Manley Award for Community Self-Reliance - a $200,000 cash prize and a bronze resin trophy sculpted by artist Kay Sullivan - goes to the project that best exemplifies the Jamaican traditions of self-help and community cooperation.

The criteria include community initiative and participation; gender equity, where appropriate; sustainability; and economic, social, cultural and environmental impact. Youth participation is also a positive factor in the judging of projects.

The EFJ Award - $100,000 and a commemorative plaque - is given to the project with the best credentials in environmental conservation or child survival and development.

Below are three of the five contenders :

Hampton Court Banana Fibre, Leather Craft and Homework Centre

The Hampton Court Banana Fibre, Leather Craft and Homework Centre, near Golden Grove, St Thomas, was established in August 2006, primarily to provide sustainable employment for the youth of the community against the background of 'downsizing' of the banana and sugar industries that have been historically vital to St Thomas.

In addition to creating an economic enterprise based largely on local raw materials, the project is designed to upgrade the education and skills of citizens of the community through the Homework Centre for school-children, an adult literacy programme and computer training across the generations. The participants in the project have been assisted with training by the Social Development Commission (SDC) and the Small Business Development Centre.

White Horses - Botany Bay - Pamphret (WBP) Water Supplyand Sanitation

Three neighbouring St Thomas communities - White Horses, Botany Bay and Pamphret (WBP) - amalgamated in 2002 and formed a benevolent society to bring piped water to some 750 households situated in the three communities.

They signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Water and Housing under the GOJ/IDB Rural Water Programme through which 90 per cent funding was secured through an Inter-American Development Bank loan for the infrastructural development of a basic water service and sanitation system. The remaining 10 per cent was contributed by the community in cash, materials and/or labour.

The WBP Development Benevolent Society leased from the National Water Commission (NWC) a bountiful well on the former Goodyear property in Morant Bay and engaged Bacchus Engineering to build and operate a pump house, a chlorinator and a tank on a nearby hill from which water is gravity-fed and piped into the communities' households.

Through the benevolent society, the communities own and operate the system and have been selling water to the NWC for supply to other communities in the parish. Additionally, the benevolent society has provided toilet facilities for some 40 indigent persons in the communities. With technical assistance from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica , it has also been training householders and chicken farmers in the communities in proper waste disposal.

Other entities assisting the benevolent society include the Women's Resource and Outreach Centre; the Coalition for Community Participation in Governance; the National Environment and Planning Agency; Coastal Water Improve-ment Project; Christian Aid; Habitat International; the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF); and US Peace Corps.

Point Hill Diagnostic Reading Centre

In 1999, a group of educators in Point Hill, St Catherine, responding to a nationwide appeal from the Ministry of Education to address grade four illiteracy, found a committed partner in the Point Hill Alumni Association, which spearheaded the mobilisation of community support and internal and external fund-raising to build a facility for remedial teaching for slow learners.

The Point Hill Diagnostic Reading Centre was opened in 2004, dedicated to empowering community members through the provision of diagnostic and remedial reading programmes. Women and men of the community drive the project, which is based largely on the use of computers to improve the learning capacity and literacy levels of the students.

The centre's teachers and admi-nistrators currently work with struggling readers from the Point Hill Leased Primary and Junior High School. Students are assessed prior to being given instructions and are continuously evaluated. The centre has achieved considerable success.

Help has come from the Ministry of Education; JSIF; Bank of Nova Scotia Foundation; Jamaica National Building Society Foundation; and the EFJ.

The other two nominees will be published in another edition of The Gleaner.

Patricia Pringle-Baker is proud of work done on water and sanitation in Botany Bay, St Thomas. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

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