Friends build schools in Jamaica - Catholic Courier

Friends build schools in Jamaica

Members of the local charity Eight 4 Third World Hope have just returned from a trip to Jamaica, where they celebrated the openings of their first two projects: a new school and a bathroom facility.

And the momentum they gained from that visit has helped propel them into raising funds for their third project: a new school in Jamaica.

That school is located about 30 minutes outside of Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, at McCooks Pen in St. Catherine. The existing school has been condemned and will be closed — with no facility replacing it — if a new one cannot be built soon. The new school will cost $45,000 and will feature a small kitchen and bathrooms.

To kick off fundraising for this project, Eight 4 Third World Hope will have a wine and cheese reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 2, at St. John Fisher College’s Skalny Welcome Center, 3690 East Ave., Pittsford. The event will feature jazz music by the John Nugent Trio. Also planned is a raffle featuring a grand prize of $1,000 or a trip to Jamaica in the future with Eight 4 Third World Hope.

At the reception, several members of Eight 4 Third World Hope will talk about their recent trip to Jamaica, where they attended the official openings of Concord Sacred Heart Early Childhood Institution and the Bensonton Primary Schools sanitation project on Feb. 1.

Matt Shue of Fairport, a founding member of Eight 4 Third World Hope, said the school they will be replacing in their third project is little more than a shack and has been patched with wood many times. Seeing the condition of the facilities in Jamaica helped him come back home with a passion to replace them.

“It was just an unbelievable experience,” Shue said. “It definitely opened my eyes to those who are less fortunate. The whole intent of the trip was for us to go there to see what we saw and come back with a little more passion in telling the story.”

Children at each of the schools they visited presented skits to tell them about their needs and to thank them for their work, he said. One girl even mimicked falling into a latrine so they could see how bad the need was for the new bathrooms they built during their second project, Shue said.

Because children were scared of falling in the 75-year-old pit latrines at the Bensonton Primary School, some would leave school early or get infections because they had not been to the bathroom all day, said Deacon Kevin Carges of Farmington, who started Eight 4 Third World Hope and who is a deacon at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Geneva.

The bathrooms, which cost a total of $11,000, were the group’s second project. Their first project was to raise $27,000 to build a school with classrooms, bathrooms, kitchen facilities, an office and veranda at Concord Sacred Heart Early Childhood Institution.

The construction of the third school is part of an effort by Food for the Poor to build 50 schools in 50 months in Jamaica as part of the country’s 50th anniversary. Food for the Poor plans to replace schools that have been deemed as unfit spaces for children to learn. Each new school will feature an office, sick bay, kitchen, bathroom and one large classroom.

Deacon Carges said it is important for the group to evaluate the needs personally and make sure the money donated is being spent appropriately. That is one reason why the group has partnered with Food for the Poor, and why members insisted on seeing the projects firsthand. He said the members of Eight for Third World Hope kept thanking him for bringing them to Jamaica, but he said he believes God wanted them to go on the trip.

The roots of Eight 4 Third World Hope stem from Deacon Carges’ travels. He went to Jamaica in 2006 and also has been to Haiti and Nicaragua. After these trips, he began raising funds to construct a fish farm through an organization he started called Deacon Kevin’s Circle of Friends. When an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, he donated what he had raised to Haitian relief efforts and began working again on fundraising.

He recruited the other members of Eight 4 Third World Hope while at a homecoming event with fellow members of St. John Fisher College’s Class of 1984. Six of his friends volunteered to start the group, and they named Christ the eighth member.

Shue said the group has given him a way to get personally involved in charitable efforts.

“I’ve always given to charities, but I’ve never been a part of a group that actually did something,” he said.

Deacon Carges said he has been inspired by his friends, who have jumped in and helped him carry out his work on behalf of the poor. He said he also has been inspired by the faith, hope, prayers and trust in God of the people he has met in Jamaica.

“Their prayers are answered by people in Rochester, N.Y.,” Deacon Carges said. “It’s an incredible blessing to be a part of it, and I welcome anyone that can help in any way.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tickets for the wine and cheese reception are $25 per person. RSVP by Monday, Feb. 27. For details, visit, or contact Michelle Senglaub at or Matt Shue at or 585-455-5166.

Tags: Faith in Action
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