Student News

Earle-Mendillo Grant: Poverty Assistance and Environmental Education

Yuxi Cai – August 16, 2019

This summer, I was given the opportunity by the Earle-Mendillo grant donors to help alleviate poverty in Jamaican schools and educate students on environmental concerns.

Before starting the grant, I was invited by the Jamaican Environment Trust (JET) for the second year to attend their annual School’s Environmental Program (SEP) conference. After working with the JET last year, I was happy to see the staff again. I was especially excited to meet again with Ms. Walker from St. Michael’s Primary, whom I worked with last year in donating bins and spreading awareness about ocean pollution.

Without surprise, I was impressed yet again by the children’s knowledge and hard work they put into each project. The one that impressed me the most was done on researching the honey bee population decline. Not only did they bring a panel of honeycomb with bees inside to the conference, they also performed an educational skit with music and rapping to showcase to the judges the extent of their research.

At the conference, I was able to talk with school teachers on what they feel Jamaican public schools needed most. Many agreed that schools needed whatever they can get because many are heavily affected by poverty in Jamaica. After the conference, and upon further discussion with Tamoy Singh, an employee at JET that I work closely with, I decided to expand my grant to not only educating schools on environmental issues and providing bins but also helping our local schools in any way that I can.

I was given a list of many schools, and ended up choosing five based on the degree of poverty and the location, including last year’s St. Michael’s Primary. I reached out to these schools and was able to visit them in the following weeks to provide them with better school supplies, as it was the highest in demand. To tie it back to my grant last year, I was able to talk to the students about education, as well as being aware of environmental issues that are affecting Jamaica and the world.

One school affected me the most. I spoke to the principal of Boys Town All Age school, and she talked to me about a situation that the students faced last Christmas. Last Christmas, the school was able to get funding from the government to buy students daily supplies, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste. However, whatever they brought home was stolen away by either their older siblings or even parents. The kids need more than just school supplies, they need common every-day toiletries and clothing. After the conversation, I decided to see what else I can do for the children. I plan to donate all my old clothes that are in good shape, and any unused or barely used school supplies I have leftover from school. In addition, I hope to see if I can get more donations from my friends here in Jamaica to bring to the school.

I am so thankful for the Earle-Mendillo grant donors for this amazing opportunity to help my community. Seeing the smiles on children’s faces and their excitement means so much to me. I plan to continue the relationships I was able to make with these five schools in the future and do whatever I can to help them.