CenGiving in Jamaica

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“My name is Marcia Cunningham, I became a community researcher with Centric by attending one of their workshops. It has now been 16 months since that happened, and I am loving the journey so far.”



My name is Marcia Cunningham, affectionately known as Sister Marcia to most people.

I became a community researcher with Centric by attending one of their workshops. It has now been 16 months since that happened, and I am loving the journey so far. This journey has led me to participate in projects such as Cost of Living Pt 2 and many more. Even though I had lived in Jamaica for 19 years, CenGiving has taken me to places I never dreamed I would visit!

All the places and people I engaged with were grateful for the interaction. Let me tell you about the project I was involved in while in Jamaica.

Black Fathers' Solidarity


(This is Flyer and trophies for Father’s Day sponsored by CenGiving)

Empowering Black Fathers: Building Solidarity for Stronger Communities

This initiative is the brainchild of Chaplain Marcia Palmer-Gallimore, who is the mother of two grown sons who are fathers themselves.

The Black Fathers' Solidarity Initiative (BFSI) aims to create a supportive network for Black fathers, fostering a sense of community, providing resources for personal and professional growth, and advocating for policies that support family stability and equality. This initiative will address the unique challenges faced by Black fathers and work towards empowering them to become pillars of their families and communities. The first meeting will be on Father's Day in June of this year.

For the first meeting, which will be around Father’s Day, there will be a domino tournament sponsored by CenGiving.

  • A trophy for the father who wins the most games and for the runner-up.
  • Gift bags that include socks, pens, and notepads.
  • Food and drinks.

Journey Through St. Catherine to Our First Destination

Waking up at 4:00 am for another day on Knutsford Express, which leaves from Sangster International Airport—this time, I am off to St. Thomas. The coach will take me to Kingston, and from there, I will be met by Mr. Williams, whom Mrs. Hendricks-White arranged to escort me the rest of the way. This is my first time going back to Kingston since 1986 and my first time visiting St. Thomas. It should be exciting.

After passing through Yallahs, Bull Bay, Morant Bay, and other small towns in St. Catherine, we finally reached our first destination.

Female Farmers with Irrigation Solutions

The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has female farmers who are in need of assistance with irrigation.

This initiative aims to support female farmers by providing them with sustainable irrigation solutions, thereby enhancing their agricultural productivity and economic independence. There is a river not far from their location, and they could utilise pipes to transport water from the river to the farm.


(Latoya and Tashawna Newell)

The two female farmers that I visited are sisters, Latoya and Tashawna Newell, who each farm on three acres of land.

I had the pleasure of visiting the farm in Ramble, St. Thomas, and yes, I did take off my shoes and walk in the river!

Even though the sun was overbearing for me, the surrounding view made it all worth it.

The sisters are trying to raise £3,500 for their irrigation program, which would involve purchasing irrigation hoses and all the necessary fixtures and fittings to transport water from the river. I had the opportunity to observe other irrigation systems in operation. I witnessed the impact of dry weather on many of the onions that did not receive adequate treatment, which is one of the main vegetables that the sisters grow.

After all that walking, I had the pleasure of enjoying watermelon and mango!

Here, I brought the sisters spray pans and weed killers each. I wish I could raise the amount of money they desire, as I see them not sitting at home but instead helping to feed the community.

Growing Minds: Empowering Students with Learning Difficulties Through School Gardening


(Students at Peartree River School of Excellence and Principal Mrs. Hendricks-White)

The Growing Minds initiative aims to create a school garden program tailored for students with learning difficulties. Already, this program is providing hands-on learning opportunities, promoting healthy eating, and developing life skills. By growing their own food, students engage in meaningful, practical activities that enhance their educational experience and personal growth.

Speaking to Mrs. Jacqueline Hendricks-White before arriving on the island of Jamaica, I learned about the exciting work she was involved in at two schools. Visiting Lysson and Peartree School of Excellence was a highlight of my visit to St. Thomas, where I was presented with hot peppers grown by the children at the school. In return, I gave them shoe covers, aprons, and gloves.

Mrs. White explained that one of these children would be the equivalent of four children in a normal school. She envisions that we will work together to help the school and mentioned that she cannot get enough crayons!

I was so reluctant to leave St. Thomas that upon arriving in Kingston to board my coach at 6 PM, I was informed that it had departed at 5 PM.

Clean Beaches Initiative: Promoting Recycling on Beaches

The Clean Beaches Initiative aims to enhance environmental conservation efforts by placing recycling bins at popular beaches. These bins will display the logos of CenGiving, the Municipal Council, and CPJ, who donated the barrels. This demonstrates our commitment to promoting environmental awareness and corporate social responsibility. The initiative seeks to reduce litter, encourage recycling, and foster cleaner, healthier beach environments.

I have spoken to David, also known as Slim, who manages Sunset Beach, one of the few free beaches in Montego Bay, St. James. He will receive a t-shirt and two barrels, which have been sprayed and are ready to be used.

Melbourne Avenue Youth Club


While in Jamaica, I received a WhatsApp message from Donovan Harding about a program that was operational not far from where I grew up. It involved young men farming and feeding the community.

I immediately asked him for contact details of whom to speak with. I then met with some hard-working men.

  • Jason is the main farmer who is knowledgeable about all things plants and soil.
  • Orane, also known as Biggs, is a young man who has shown passion in helping the community.
  • Mr. Brown is a great footballer who plays in local and regional leagues.
  • Mr. Jolly is a police officer who has not forgotten where he came from.

After seeing the good work that they were accomplishing there, we went shopping!

They got spray pans, gloves, water boots, seeds, and a lychee tree!

RADA Office – St. James

The men wanted to introduce me to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority office in St. James, where I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Coote, the manager of the office, and Mr. Johnson, who was the liaison with the young men of Melbourne Avenue.

Another early morning for the Knutsford Express—this time to St. Ann.

St. Ann Farmers


(Donations of spray bottles, on the field and Fyah Pal)

I took a taxi from Drax Hall to Brown's Town and another taxi to Retirement. Here, I was going to spend the weekend with some family members and visit the graves of some of my ancestors. One of them is Benjamin Yorke, who lived to be 115 years old, but that is another story about respecting our ancestors.

One of the things that worries me in this area is bauxite mining. I was told that the company gives residents $8,000 per quarter for dust pollution. Many people who work at the plant suffer from lung diseases and some even die from them. There have been numerous cases of lung cancer-related deaths in this area.

Here, I met with all the Rastafari farmers:

  • Fyah Peta – Derek Yorke
  • Bushweed – Michael Jackson
  • Fyah One - Pal

They took me around their farms, mainly focusing on sweet potatoes, yam, and hemp farming. Each of them received a small donation to support their ventures.

Maroon Visit


(Baba Kutty receiving my gift) - (Milton Fairclough and Melbourne Posse)

Seeing the Maroons, who have maintained their independence from the British all these years, would be a cultural highlight of the trip. However, unlike other visitors, CenGiving approaches this experience from a different perspective. CenGiving does not aim to simply drop into their community, but rather to offer something in return—a visit to witness the Twe language spoken in its original form!

I was taken there by Milton Fairclough, who is a Maroon and whose uncle still lives in Accompong Town. I was accompanied by the team from Melbourne Avenue: Mr. Brown, the driver, Jason, and Biggs.

This journey was one that I will not forget in a hurry. The road leading to the town was the narrowest I have ever seen. Throughout the journey, I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if another vehicle came from the opposite direction. I was told that the road was usually a walking path and not meant for vehicles to drive on.

Upon reaching the town, we were greeted by Baba Kutty (Mark Wright), the spiritual leader of the community. The chief of the area, Chief Currie, was in America, but we were given his email address for correspondence. We were then given the opportunity to visit the museum, where I learned and saw many interesting things. I was surprised to learn that the original Maroons were Muslims! There is still a room called Juuma where they used to pray on Fridays.

We were all blessed and walked on a path where ancestors were buried. On this sacred ground, we had to walk barefoot. The only way to discern where someone was buried was by the trees that were planted, as in the olden days they did not use concrete gravestones.

Before leaving the town, we bought some coconut water—the largest I have ever seen. I couldn't finish my jelly.

We saw a mudslide on the way back, but our driver was marvelous in maneuvering the vehicle through it.

Meeting the Mayor of St. James


(Mayor Richard Vernon)

So it is Wednesday, and I spoke to the secretary of the Mayor of St. James, Richard Vernon, on the phone. He listened in and liked what he heard, suggesting that we meet the following day, which is Thursday, the day before I leave the island.

I presented a CenGiving t-shirt to the Mayor and discussed with him the ideas that CenGiving wanted to implement in St. James regarding waste management, education, and farming.

Mayor Vernon expressed concern about people still burning waste and the limited number of vehicles available for waste collection in the city. He invited CenGiving to be part of a new initiative he launched on May 24, 2024, called Step UP. This waste management program aims to involve CenGiving in educating children at schools about proper waste management practices. The goal is to ensure that each school has at least two barrels for recycling plastic bottles and other garbage.

Jerk Splash



The young men of Melbourne Avenue Youth Club were given a donation to feed the community of Melbourne Avenue. I must say, it was the best jerk chicken I had during this visit.

Old and young came out to listen to the music and enjoyed some good food. Some of the participants also received CenGiving T-shirts.



(Chris Salters, manager at CPJ, Chaplain Palmer-Gallimore)

It is Friday, the 31st, and I am ready to leave the island. I mentioned to my host that one thing I did not accomplish was getting some barrels. Within an hour, we received a call that Caribbean Producers of Jamaica (CPJ) had 8 barrels for us to collect. When we arrived and explained our plans for the barrels, they offered us 10 more, so we left with a total of 18 barrels. These barrels are ready to be painted, but I am currently negotiating with the person who will spray the logos on them. They are asking for $3,500 per barrel, but I am emphasising that this will be a long-term project that will bring steady income.

Finally, I would like to thank the following people:

  • Suga Banton – Most of my journey was my companion
  • Desmond Yorke – Wow, Negril was truly an experience
  • George Rattray – My security, opening doors and being by my side
  • Peta and Colla Yorke – Thanks for opening up your door and making me feel welcome
  • Meg Rattray – Making sure that I had coconut water every morning while in St. Ann
  • Ron and Dean Gallimore – Babies that I left behind treated me like a real aunt.
  • Milton Fairclough – Thanks for being a true Maroon
  • Orane Clare – The best chef in Jamaica.
  • Jason – Your knowledge of plants is remarkable
  • Mr. Brown – You are not just a footballer but a good driver
  • Mr. Jolly – You will always be a Melbourne Avenue youth.
  • Mr. Williams – The only time I was driven at 120 mph while in Jamaica.
  • Slim – For keeping the Sunset Beach clean and musical
  • Shalmon Scott – Former Mayor of St. James, for all the knowledge and wisdom; visiting the beach was worthwhile just because of you.
  • Kerryann Alexander – Your dedication as a teacher brought me joy to see your pupils.
  • Mrs. Hendricks-White – A head teacher that does not keep still.
  • Baba Kutty – You have brought me closer to my ancestors with your blessing.
  • The ancestors for watching over me each day and for bringing me home safely.
  • And finally, one of the most important people of my journey – Chaplain Marcia Palmer-Gallimore, my former Sunday School teacher. For waking me up at 4:00 AM and transporting me to the coach depot. For taking time out of your busy schedules to take me from point A to B. For opening your doors and giving me a roof over my head. I thank you and honor your father, Bishop Alfred Tennyson Palmer, who taught us Pan Africanism back then.

The big question now is: WHAT NEXT?

CenJam's aim is for the following to happen:

  • Female Farmers – Help to raise £3,500 for their irrigation system
  • Melbourne Avenue Youth Club – Help to build a communal area for the community to receive this product.
  • Accompong Town – A mutual exchange between Ghana and the town
  • Barrels – Placed in all schools, free beaches, and strategic points in Montego Bay.
  • Recycling plastics – To make bricks and other household items
  • St. Ann Farmers – Given machinery to turn over the soil for more productivity
  • Father’s Group – Take nationwide the idea of young and mature fathers coming together to play dominoes.
  • School of Excellence – Continue to help them to be more self-sufficient.
  • Primary School – To teach the importance of recycling and making them young entrepreneurs by using the plastics to make items.
  • The Mayor’s Office – To work closely with them and aim to purchase garbage trucks in the future.



Further Reading

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Introducing Ransford Omani Clottey (Centric Ghana)

Jul 09th 2024


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Ghana Reflections – Environmental Challenges, Resilience, Hope and the Power of Community

Jul 09th 2024


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CenGiving Funds Beach Cleanup in Ghana – update

Jul 09th 2024

Dr Shaun Danquah & Paul Addae -

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CenGiving Funds Beach Cleanup in Ghana

Jul 09th 2024

Shaun Danquah -

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Innovative Solutions to Support Stroke Patients in Ghana

Jul 09th 2024

Harry Osei -

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Building Global Research Activation: Community Research Training in the Dominican Republic

Jul 09th 2024


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Fashion Industry And The Realities of Waste Colonialism

Jul 09th 2024


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Dr Shaun Danquah: Navigating Societal Narratives

Jul 09th 2024


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The Emperor’s Old Clothes

Jul 09th 2024


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Using Reparation Money For An Equitable Future

Jul 09th 2024


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Western Gains Fed Back Into The Eastern Plains

Jul 09th 2024


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