February Jamaica Series
We know the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us in our daily lives.
For the members of the Jamaica Committee of St Paul’s Church, it has been especially difficult to not be able to make our annual medical mission to Chantilly, Jamaica.
The medical trip with Jamaica is only one aspect of our Jamaica mission, with our financial support of the Chantilly Early Childhood Institution being another. St Paul’s Church has been able to raise $8,000 annually to support the preschool children of Chantilly. Our mission this year is to raise the money needed for the school through the month of February.
St. Paul’s Church has worked with the community of Chantilly, Jamaica since 1996, when a group of parishioners were connected to Rue and Daphne Gordon through the organization Food for the Poor.
The Gordons had been raised in the Chantilly community. Daphne studied to become a teacher and was teaching in local school. Rue as a young man traveled to the US twice during WWII and worked picking produce. When he returned to Jamaica, he opened a grocery store in Chantilly. Rue and Daphne immigrated to England and settled in Birmingham. Daphne was able to teach in a middle school girls’ school after obtaining the needed British teaching certificates. Rue worked as a city bus driver. When Rue and Daphne retired, they returned to Chantilly where they could be around family members and friends. They built their house in the middle of the community.
The Gordon’s raised the money to build the Basic School, which houses a pre-school program for children 3 to 5 years of age. The school also feeds the children breakfast and lunch. (For most of the children, these are their only meals) The school has a playground for the children as well. (This is the only place the children have to play in a play space designed for children to play) The Basic School was certified by the Jamaican government and is now called the Chantilly Early Childhood Institute.
Rue and Daphne recognized that the community needed medical and dental services. When they had the Basic School building built, they added rooms for these services. They were able to get the local Rotary Club to send dentists and St Paul’s Church has, for over 20 years, sent a medical team to see patients. For many, this is the only medical care they receive. Pregnant women get personalized care. Many hear their baby’s heartbeat for the only time. A local physician, Dr. Clifton Reid, will see the elderly patients every few months.
Over the years, the Gordons had reached out to different organizations for help in the efforts to raise money for the school and health center. It was one of their letters that lead to St Paul’s Jamaica connection. We have and continue to provide financial support for the school and the health center.
Over the years, the medical group of St Paul’s Church have been able to stay with Rue and Daphne in their home. They are the most wonderful people that one could hope to meet. Their love for the community and Jamaica is evident in all their actions.
The pandemic has been very difficult for the people of Jamaica. The support we, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, provide is more needed than ever. Please make a financial gift to the Jamaican mission. Tuition for a child to attend the Basic School for 10 months of instruction and includes breakfast and lunch is $250.00.
During February, we will be sharing different stories from the experiences of St. Paul's parishioners who have visited Jamaica with us. We hope you enjoy learning more about our work there, and consider making a donation.
Jamaica Committee Chair
Today or in the future, donations can be made in any of the ways listed here - please be sure to note "Jamaica" so the money goes to the correct account.