Digicel Foundation celebrates 17 years with over $1m in gifts | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News

The Digicel Foundation on Wednesday announced more than $1 million in gifts for its past grantees as it launched its 2020-2021 Annual Report with a live stream on its Instagram and Facebook pages.

The gifts include tablets and PEP games for Green Pond Infant and Primary School, tablets and a laptop to assist the Lyssons School for Special Education Pear Tree River Campus, and a $1-million grant for 360 Recycle.

Digicel Foundation is this year celebrating 17 years of service in Jamaica. Launched in response to the destruction left behind by Hurricane Ivan, the Foundation has assisted in several sectors but focuses on education, special needs and community development.

The Foundation said in a release that it stepped up again to assist with relief efforts during the coronavirus pandemic through a multimillion-dollar campaign to sanitise, advocate, feed, and enable Jamaica, called Operation SAFE Mode. In a special message to the Foundation, Prime Minister Andrew Holness lauded its proactive approach and expressed gratitude for the continued investment in communities across Jamaica.

“I want to thank Digicel Foundation for its leadership, for its inspiration, and for its steadfast focus,” said Holness. “Most of all, perhaps, I am thankful for the way in which the Foundation continues to transform Jamaican lives – whether it’s a backyard farmer in St James, a special needs student in St Thomas, or a budding musician in Kingston.”

The release said the additional gifts presented at Wednesday’s launch will impact infant and primary school students in St James, special needs students in St Thomas, and contribute to the recycling of PET plastic bottles in the Trench Town community.

A look at 2020-2021

Taking a look at the past year, Jean Lowrie-Chin, chairperson of the Digicel Foundation, commented that the Foundation did not miss a beat and stayed focused on its vision of helping to create a world where no one gets left behind.

She noted that CEO Charmaine Daniels took on the unique challenges presented by the pandemic after assuming the leadership position in January 2020 – two months before the pandemic hit Jamaica.

“While we responded with alacrity to the pandemic with our Operation SAFE Mode initiative in support of national efforts, we went on to complete two major projects,” said Lowrie-Chin.

She went on to describe some partnerships forged during the last year.

The Colm Delves Centre at Alpha School of Music

“Minister of Education, Youth and Information, the Honourable Fayval Williams, attended the opening of Pear Tree River School, an extension of the Lyssons School for Special Education in St Thomas. We celebrated with our Patron Denis O’Brien, the opening of the Colm Delves Centre at the Alpha Institute – a major investment in arts education – building on Alpha’s great tradition.

“Addressing the urgent need for students to access online classes, we donated 1,000 tablets, SIM cards and data for students with disabilities, making an impact through public and private sector partnerships,” Lowrie-Chin added.

Since its inception, Digicel Foundation has invested heavily in infrastructure and development. Among the work done is the construction of 10 special needs centres for children with multiple disabilities; renovation of nine special needs schools with the Ministry of Education’s Special Education Unit; renovation of 13 science labs and donation of 42 mobile science labs to secondary and tertiary institutions; construction of 41 ramp projects; and the issuing of 713 grants to community-based organisations.

“The Digicel Foundation always seems to be able to seek out legitimate partners that help to drive social change throughout the Caribbean,” said Sister Susan Frazer, area administrator for the Sisters of Mercy, which operates the Alpha Institute. “The Digicel Foundation gives and gives big. In all my 46 years of service, I have never come across what the Digicel Foundation has done: making our dream a reality.”

Digicel Foundation said the last year was challenging nut that it has demonstrated that it is committed to making real investments in Jamaican communities. To date, Digicel Foundation has invested US$41.18 million in 1,370 projects to directly impact more than 700,000 lives, the release said.

For more information on the Digicel Foundation and to read the latest annual report, visit digiceljamaicafoundation.org.