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Give a little, it will help a lot

Monday, December 9, 2013

“Sir, sir!” the little voice chirped. The toddler whose nose could barely reach the top of the table was waving a page with a big blue letter A on it. 


She wanted to show principal Wayne Patrick Jordan how well she was colouring her alphabet letters.


“Yes, darling,’’ he replied. “That’s very good.’’


I could have spent all day there, at the Each One Teach One Special School on Beetham Estate, which is really just a big shed with electrical ceiling fans that do not work—and lightning bolts of positive energy. 


The children love having visitors, so they can show off their drawings, do puzzles with them, and sing the ABC song. 


They don’t have enough tables, so some eat lunch on sheets spread on the floor. But that’s not so bad. 


At the first school that Jordan founded, the All in One Development Centre, also on the Beetham, the pupils had no toilets when the doors first opened. 


The children used buckets. Once, a little girl fell in.


Now, ten years later, you would hardly recognise the All in One. 


It is staffed by trained pre-school teachers, has proper tables and chairs, and educational tools, and even a colourful playhouse. Jordan was honoured with a national award, primarily for his efforts at the All in One.


Jordan, a Servol outreach officer, decided to open the new school because he realised there were still lots of children on the Beetham who were not getting the best head-start in life.


The Each One Teach One Special school has about 60 children—babies, toddlers and some older boys and girls with special needs. 


The pupils come from Beetham, Laventille, and Morvant. Jordan is principal, teacher, manager, janitor, fund-raiser and do-it-all technician. Using cardboard and paper, he built a tall column of a Santa Claus for the children. 


His wife and daughter also volunteer at the school. He has no day off. On weekends, the school is also used for community projects, such as a parenting programme.


A new registered charitable organisation called the Children’s Ark has adopted the Each One Teach One Special School as a project. 


The Ark is raising about $90,000 towards improving the infrastructure of the school, and providing books, educational toys and working tools. 


For example, the children need tables and chairs to suit their size and additional toilets. 


The floor is pitted and scarred by splashes of cement, so Jordan covered the worst of it with a swath of bright floral carpeting. 


Ceiling fans would make the place almost luxurious. And there are never enough crayons, paper and books for bright little minds to exercise their imaginations.


So, instead of that lovely, expensive present you were going to buy me as a reward for bringing cheer to your lives every Monday, make a donation to the Ark for the Beetham special school. 


The $300 you intended to use for office decorations would be better spent on another baby’s high chair. 


And, if you happen to be trained in early childhood education, and you are not the officious type but rather willing to roll up your sleeves and stick with something worthwhile, I bet Jordan would appreciate some free help.


The Children’s Ark (whose president is Simone de la Bastide, wife of the former Chief Justice) is awaiting your generous donations. 


The Ark has no office, no staff, no overheads. Just volunteers. You can write the cheques in the name of The Children’s Ark, and send to 8 Nutmeg Avenue, Haleland Park, Maraval. 


Do it now, and feel better about the sometimes crummy world we live in.


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