At the heart of the Miss Jamaica World title is the mantra “Beauty with a Purpose.” This simple yet powerful idea fuels my drive to serve, to take part in great efforts to affect change. It was therefore an immense honor to join hands with the Shashamane Sunrise Jamaica (aka Shash) team and do my part to improve the quality of education offered to children in the developing world.
I was asked to host the Shash Jamaica Benefit on Sunday, 17 January 2016—the proceeds from which went to Windsor Forest Primary School, as well as other Jamaican non-profits such as the Kingston College Fortis Pavilion and the Early Childhood Program in Trench Town. Not only was the benefit held in service of an important cause, but it was also set in the gorgeous Villa Ronai and featured a lineup of all-star entertainers.
Samantha Gooden, a woman with a golden voice, opened the night with a medley of soulful songs, accompanied by an excellent band. Also included in the lineup was Rastafarian dub poet Mutabaruka, who performed his satirical pieces of social commentary on issues most shy away from. I was even treated to my favorite piece by Muta, “Dis Poem.” Finally, iconic vocalist Ken Boothe closed out the night with a show-stopping performance that had all the attendees grooving and singing along.
The night also honored Major Richard Cooke, President of the Joy Town Community Development Foundation with the Shashamane Community Service Award for his over 20 years of service to the Trench Town Community in inner-city Kingston.
Miss Universe first runner up 2010, the stunning Yendi Phillips, also lent her support to the cause, conducting the auction in the latter portion of the evening. The auction featured paintings donated by the Caribbean’s leading visual artist Dr Leroy Clarke. It was a wonderful evening with an intimate gathering of volunteers, ambassadors, and well-wishers of the Shashamane Sunrise team. I encourage you to get their tickets to next year’s Benefit early, http://shashamanesunrise.org/events.
A couple of days after the benefit, we visited Windsor Forest Primary School, tucked away in the beautiful parish of Portland. I was delighted to be invited to travel with a group of volunteers, local and internationally based, ho conducted career workshops in their different areas of expertise to expose the students to different career options that may be open to them.
My workshop topic was Values Clarification. I led students in grades five and six in a discussion about which values motivated us. We came to the conclusion that our personal value is equivalent to our brightest dreams. After our session, it was clear to me that, though the students came from small farming community, they had larger-than-life-dreams. Droves of students asked for autographs and special messages.
All around the school was evidence of the Shashamane Sunrise’s work, including the Reading Room and Technology Center used by students and members of the community. I was honored to be a part of the ground-breaking ceremony on the most recent project, a coop that would house enough chickens to provide for the School Lunch Program and to sell to the surrounding community for a profit, serving as a source of income for the school that can be used for the school’s operating budget. It’s part of Shashamane’s Social Entrepreneurship Program that tries to ensure that its intervention in schools is impactful and sustainable.. It was a day well spent with beautiful smiles and bright minds in one of Jamaica’s most scenic parishes.
To find out more information about Shashamane Sunrise and how you can help, please visit their website, http://shashusa.org or http://shashjamaica.org