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A Child from the Garrison

Elsa accepting her award.  Photo courtesy  by Navita Anguna


As chair of the Rotary Club of Kingston (RCOK) Scholarship Committee, I am always on the lookout for students who have performed exceptionally well while being financially challenged. This is the story of one of our 2015/2016 awardees.

Elsa[1] is 12 years old. She and her single mom live in Rae Town (Her mom refers to it as the Garrison). Garrison is a term associated with poor inner city communities in Jamaica. Her mom Ms. Dan[2], works only evenings with a janitorial company in Kingston. The child is usually left alone while her mom works with neighbors keeping an eye on her. But instead of taking the opportunity to play and watch television unsupervised in the evenings, she took to her books and performed tremendously well at GSAT- a secondary school entrance examination taken at the end of Grade 6, the last grade of Primary School.  Her average score per subject was 99.75.  Amid great odds, she endured to secure a place at the prestigious Campion College in Jamaica.

Challenges continue to follow her however with her mom expressing despair in finding bus fare to send her to school and lunch money. Because of Elsa’s perseverance, performance and demonstrated financial need, she was selected to receive a cash grant from the RCOK. While the benefactor of this grant chose to remain anonymous, I would certainly like to convey this great inspirational story.

The award was handed over on Thursday (September 17, 2015) in the presence of officials of the Rotary Club, her mother and the bursar of the school.

What was quite moving for me however, was in her thank you speech, she said ‘thanks to all of you people for selecting somebody like me …for this award’, before breaking down in tears.

To Elsa and to all the children of garrison communities in Jamaica and in the region however, I want to say somebody like you should never underestimate yourself. You and only you have the power to set the courses in your lives. You can be anything and anyone you choose to be. Education is the universal way out of poverty so stay focused. Good luck to Elsa.

[1] Pseudonym used to protect privacy

[2] Pseudonym used to protect privacy



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