HELP Jamaica! celebrated the significant milestone of five years of service in Jamaica with the launch of the Information Technology Unit at HELP Jamaica Center, in Kingston.
The Center in the innercity community of Cassava Piece was established under the Help Establish Library Projects in Jamaica Ltd., founded by Hilmar Keding and Birte Timm five years ago. With the theme, “Education For A Change“, the two German nationals in collaboration with residents in Cassava Piece and assistance from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to Jamaica and local and international volunteers, established the Center which has offered free education programmes including homework classes for children and CXC classes for adults from Cassava Piece and surrounding areas.
On February 12, 2014, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy & Mining launched the IT-Unit at the Center with computers donated by the Government of Jamaica’s Universal Service Fund in association with the Social Development Commission (SDC).
The IT Unit will facilitate expanded computer literacy programmes for the over 120 children and 100 adults who currently attend classes at the Center.
Addressing the launch, the two founders thanked the residents of Cassava Piece for “sharing the vision and coming together to make it a reality.”
They recalled the “old clinic” that has now been transformed into a “Center of learning” and the many residents who “helped to clean up the premises even before reconstruction and refurbishing began.”
The Center which begun with 1 employee, a few computers and books and 20 students when openend 3 years ago, today serves over 120 children per day with 8 employees, and six volunteer teachers. There are also adult education classes which prepare students to sit in Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations. Mr. Keding noted that in 2012 there were 40 persons in the CXC classes at average and this year the number has exceeded 100 for each of the offered subjects (Math, English and Social Studies).
The ceremony was attended by 150 persons, including a lot of prominent guests and longtime partners and supporters. After the blessings by Pastor Wisdom, the function started with greetings by Mrs. Virginia Chin the CEO of the Education Center, Ms. Birte Timm as the Co-Founder, Mrs. Wiggins a represantative of the neighbouring School as well as Mr. Michael ‘Muta’ Skyers as Member of the Board of Directors, H.E. Josef Beck the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Jamaica who addressed the support on various occassions that the Embassy gave HELP Jamaica! over last 5 years. Hilmar Keding (Co-Founder of HELP Jamaica!) took the audience on a ‘Journey’ through the years 2008-2014 from how it started as an idea of a rather small center, focusing mainly on younger children to what the Centrer is offering today: a full scheduled program, opening hours from 9am-9pm, adult education (CXC), Summer School, Workshops with International Volunteers and a lot more.
Mr. Hugh Cross the head of the ‘Universal Service Fund’ declared why HELP Jamaica! was chosen as one of the organizations to get 16 computers and additional IT-equipment by the Jamaican Government and handed over to the main speaker of the day the Hon. Phillip Paulwell Minister of Science, Technology, Energy & Mining who was addressing how the use of Information Technology and computers can empower single persons but also whole communities. Mr. Otto McLeod our Computer expert at the Center expressed his gratitude for the donated equipment and assured the intense use of it within his daily offered (basic and advanced level) Computer Classes at the Center.
The Ceremony was closed by students of the HELP Jamaica! Center who performed sign language, before the IT-Unit was offically opened by a ribbon cut.
At the same time we used the occasion with all these prominent guests, to launch a ‘Corporate Initiative’ where we seek strong coporate partners to look at the Center as a blueprint and support our vision to spread the educational offers to other innercity communities.
True to our Motto: Education For A Change!