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PAEF Continues to Help Uplift Communities

PAEF Continues to Help Uplift Communities
Custos of St. Catherine, Hon. Rev. Jeffrey McKenzie (4th left), interacts with students at a bursary and scholarship awards function, organised by the Poverty Alleviation and Empowerment Foundation (PAEF), at the parish office of the Social Development Commission (SDC), in Spanish Town. At third left is Executive Director of the Foundation, Pauline Gregory-Lewis.
(Media Credit: Dave Reid)

KINGSTON (JIS) -- The St. Catherine-based Poverty Alleviation and Empowerment Foundation (PAEF), is continuing its work to help develop communities. Now in its fourth year of operation, the PAEF assists students with school uniforms, scholarships and bursaries; trains community members in entrepreneurship; repairs educational institutions, and assists the elderly. Recently, PAEF partnered with the Noble Foundation to do refurbishing work on the St. Wade Basic School in the parish, to include painting, installation of a new roof for the kitchen, planting of trees, and improving the children’s play area. Principal of the school, Sharon Quarrie, tells JIS News that the breakfast programme run by PAEF helped to increase the school’s population from just over 30 to 50. “It is a great help to St. Wade Basic School, and we thank them very much. Through them, we also got help from Jamalco,” the Principal says.

Another St. Catherine-based institution, the 3D Project, which caters to children with disabilities, also benefits from PAEF’s breakfast programme.

According to Executive Director of the PAEF, Pauline Gregory-Lewis, in 2014 the Foundation started working in Old Harbour Bay, St. Catherine, after accepting an invitation from a group of church deacons in the area. They began with a breakfast programme at the Old Harbour Primary School.

“We also have a breakfast programme at two additional schools there, and we gave a monthly food pack to about 50 indigent persons in the community. The Foundation also provided assistance with uniforms in the schools where students needed them,” she tells JIS News.

The Executive Director shares with JIS News that to empower community members, training was provided to those interested in beekeeping, which was done in conjunction with the Bodles Research Station.

“Having done that training, we moved to do a proposal for Food For The Poor, which also provided bee colonies and all the equipment that was necessary to give 10 farmers the ability to set up their own apiaries,” Mrs. Gregory-Lewis adds.

She points out that residents who are interested in poultry rearing also get an opportunity from PAEF to set up their own business, with the help of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

“That is what we’re about – how we can assist; and while we’re assisting, we also help the parents to reach that level that they can do something for themselves, so they can provide the breakfast and they can provide the uniforms,” she says.

Mrs. Gregory-Lewis tells JIS News that the members have a firm commitment to lift communities through connection with the elderly, by providing them with food, and reaching out to unattached youth as well as offering opportunities for entrepreneurship.

The motto of the PAEF is ‘Not only will we give you a fish, we will also teach you how to fish’.

For his part, Custos of St. Catherine, Hon. Rev. Jeffrey McKenzie, says the group has demonstrated love, compassion, care and a commitment to improve the lives of others.

In 2015, the PAEF provided four grants totalling $60,000 to students from the McAuley and Old Harbour Primary schools, and in 2016, prior to the start of the new school year, nine children received help with bursaries.

Teacher at the Old Harbour Bay Primary School, Kellesha Morris Adams, says the breakfast programme has been a motivation for students to arrive early, and stay for the duration of classes.

Impressed with the work of the Foundation, Vice Principal at Old Harbour Primary School, George Goode, says the members must be commended for impacting lives positively, especially students and the elderly.