Though we love raving about our love for great Jamaican home cooking, community is easily our greatest passion here at Carleva Bay. Founders Nelson and Novella Keith have been bringing exchange students to our Center in Yallahs since 2004. As a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, Novella’s students often express interest in teaching, social work and economic development in Jamaica. In the past 15 years we’ve been able to build incredible connections with local hospitals, schools, and not-for-profits. Here are some of our favorite organizations and faces doing good work in St. Thomas.
Woman’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation
In Jamaica, teen pregnancy remains highly stigmatized. When a young woman becomes pregnant, she is generally forced to drop her studies, as many schools view pregnant teens as a bad influence to other young women. Often, these women are then locked into a system of child-bearing and living off the welfare system, never receiving support that might enable them to continue their education and eventually move into a career to support themselves and their child. The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) seeks to reverse this system.
The Programme for Adolescent Mothers is the Centre’s core program, offering academic instruction, group and individual counselling, and vocational training to young mothers. Since its inception 40 years ago, the WCJF has served over 45,000 individuals and accepts approximately 1,250 individuals annually. Academic studies are designed to encourage and support students to pursue tertiary education. The Centre’s counselling addresses a wide range of issues including self-esteem, sexual and reproductive issues, and personal development.
Read more at the WCJF’s official website: https://womenscentreja.com/
One of our founders, Vanessa Keith, used The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation as the subject of a Design/Build course at City College in New York. In the Spring of 2006, a group of enthusiastic students began exploring sustainable architecture and green building design in Jamaica alongside professors Oisin Clancy and Vanessa Keith.
The resultant design, shown below, features structural bamboo connections as the building’s primary structure, configured and oriented for passive cooling. Also included are an integrated wind turbine, graywater treatment and an alternative sustainable septic system. Read more at the Studioteka website here.
Teaching at Jamaica’s Basic Schools
In Jamaica, early childhood education is offered to children as young as 2 years old, and up to 6 years of age. Most commonly referred to as kindergarten in the U.S. and Canada, basic schools provide a chance for young children to expose themselves to the alphabet, basic counting, and early childhood rhymes and songs. Our work with basic schools over the years has involved efforts such as computerizing schools with donated computers brought over from the U.S. to other involvement such as teacher training, workshops, and supporting classroom instruction.
Rural Agricultural Development Authority
The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is a statutory body under Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries. It is Jamaica’s chief agricultural extension and rural development agency. Our Carleva Bay student groups and guests have worked with RADA on various projects aimed at fostering their goal of achieving national economic growth and stability through agriculture. RADA’s mission encompasses everything from farmer educational training, to water management to rural sociology.