Changing Lives with the Get Kids to School Program
BY FR. JIM BOK, OFM
Our Franciscan province has many outreach programs both at home and abroad. It is only through your generous support that these programs are sustained and continue to flourish, and we are very grateful for your help! One example is the Get Kids to School program here in Jamaica, which began in 2012.
Thanks to you, we are changing lives. You’ve helped hundreds of children and their families overcome educational challenges that are quite common here. Each day, monetary problems, transportation hurdles, and lack of resources prove too much for families to handle and kids do not make it to school. Through this program, we work with children and parents to combat these issues.
I am delighted to share the good news that our first Get Kids to School student—André Campbell—is now thriving in college! André says that without Get Kids to School, he doesn’t know where he would be today, but he’s pretty sure it wouldn’t be college.
Growing up, André’s living conditions at home were tough and they often had nothing to eat. Money issues were sadly front and center in his family’s life. A bright student and hard worker, André always loved learning and going to school, but he was never sure if he would be able to go each day due to the fluctuating circumstances beyond his family’s control.
André calls Get Kids to School a "bright light" amidst the confusion and darkness. Through the program, we were able to provide him with uniforms and school supplies that he needed over the years, aid with taxi fare and lunch money each day, and help cover books and various school fees.
Since he was a young child, André has also been an active and vibrant member of our church. When one of our catechists retired, André stepped in and worked weekly with the young adults preparing for Confirmation. André acknowledges that the church has been an important part of his life and says that he has been "loved, respected, motivated, and encouraged" through it.
André was accepted into a very good high school and flourished there, thanks to continued help from Get Kids to School and his own determination and self-motivation. Now, at age 18, he is studying both French and Spanish at Shortwood Teachers’ College in Kingston, Jamaica. He has dreams of learning even more languages through higher education and becoming an interpreter.
None of the kids in our Get Kids to School program could begin to go to college without some assistance, and André is the first graduate of the program to go to college with our financial help. I fondly call this burgeoning program Get Kids to School Plus. There are already two members of our church, Petegay and Devante, who hope to attend college this coming September. If we do not help, they will not go.
Get Kids to School is currently serving around 120 children of all ages, grade levels, and religions. There are many more kids like André—smart and determined, but in need of help to overcome obstacles so they can fulfill their dreams.
Without you there is no Get Kids to School or Get Kids to School Plus. Without you there are no provincial outreach programs at home or abroad. You are an essential part of our Franciscan ministry and outreach to the poor!
We wish you abundant blessings for your continued generosity. Be assured of our prayers for you and know that your help is making a difference and changing lives!