There are a number of factors that prevent or impede the efficient and economical provision of financial services to rural residents in Jamaica. These extend to distances that exist between rural folks and facilities providing financial services, the travelling costs to access financial services due to proximity to financial facilities, the limited knowledge in rural areas of financial services that can be made available through technological means, amongst others.
The lack or absence of financial services has been a deterrent to both development and increasing the quality of life of many of Jamaica’s rural residents. It also constitutes an opportunity being missed to engage rural communities of under banked and unbanked individuals, into financial services and economic endeavours.
It is on the heels of this reality that the JN Foundation and Inter American Development Bank have developed and engaged the implementation of this initiative branded “JN Live: Bank On Your Community”.
Aimed primarily at addressing gaps in financial service provisions to rural folks and fostering development, the Project is focused on increasing the participation of individuals and small businesses in targeted rural communities of Jamaica, to become formally engaged in the financial system.
At the core of the Project are three areas now being undertaken which are prerequisites to the Project’s implementation:
In 2007, as part of its continuing focus on rural regeneration and the empowerment of communities, the Foundation awarded the Point Hill Diagnostic Reading Centre (PHDRC) a challenge grant or matching funds agreement for J$3 Million over three years. The PHDRC located in Point Hill, a small farming community in rural St. Catherine, was formed in 1998 in direct response to the low reading levels of students in the local primary and junior high schools. It has since evolved into a testing, teaching facility and resource centre, expanding its offerings to community members.
On Thursday, August 28, 2008 Tropical Storm Gustav made a slow 24-hour trek across the island of Jamaica, leaving 12 persons dead. It had a severe impact on the lives of Jamaicans. The tropical storm damaged the country’s road network, other infrastructure and the agricultural sector took a severe battering. In response to the disaster, a pool of J$11 Million was made available by the JN Foundation to assist relief and recovery efforts in areas of the agricultural sector that suffered devastation. The funds were distributed through partnerships with the Jamaica Red Cross and the Jamaica Producers Group, directing relief efforts to the Eastern parishes of St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas.
The Rural Family Support Organisation’s (RuFamSO) Roving Caregivers Programme received a J$7 million dollar boost from the JN Foundation over a three-year period. Infants and toddlers up to three years old in targeted communities, who do not have access to the formal education system, are the primary beneficiaries of the internationally recognized 16-year-old programme.
As a result of its success in Jamaica, RCP has since been replicated in Belize, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica and St. Vincent, in collaboration with the Caribbean Child Support Initiative (CSSI). And, it was bestowed the prestigious UNICEF Maurice Pete Award for protecting and promoting the health, welfare and general well being of children. To date, the RCP has served more than 1,445 children throughout the parishes of Clarendon, Manchester, St. Thomas and St. Catherine. RuFamSO is a leading non-profit organisation established in the parish of Clarendon in 1996 to advocate, design, develop and deliver family enrichment education and life skills in rural Jamaica. The JN Foundation, the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica and the Global Fund for Children currently support the organisation.
The Junitavan Lagoon has served as an area for recreational swimming, baptismal ceremonies, and other water-related activities in the Maroon community of Accompong, St. Elizabeth for more than 300 years. This ecological treasure and unique feature of the community, like many natural resources had, over time, become damaged by a combination of severe weather, changing culture, and poor farming practices. In recognition of its integral role in environmental sustainability and preserving the culture of the Accompong Maroons, the JN Foundation got involved in a project to restore the lagoon to its former glory. The first phase of the restoration project, a J$871,000 excavation exercise, was aimed at bringing eco-tourism and aqua-culture to Accompong. It is being implemented by The Original Trails of the Maroons.
The launch of a J$2 million Public Access to Defibrillation programme, in collaboration with the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, took place in October 2007. This project provided the Jamaican public with access to life-saving equipment for use in heart-related emergencies. Ten defibrillators were placed in public areas during January 2008. They include the Percy Junor Hospital, the Montego Bay Civic Centre, as well as select JN Bank branches, including, Half-Way-Tree, Spanish Town, May Pen, Savanna-La-Mar, Linstead, Morant Bay, and Browns Town. Twenty-four volunteers and JN staff members were trained and certified in the use of the defibrillators and CPR techniques and are now equipped to act as first aid persons to respond to the needs of heart attack victims.
The annual H. A. Tony Clarke Rural Regeneration Scholarship Award provides direct technical and financial support to fund solution-oriented post-graduate research specific to rural development in Jamaica. Elecia Myers, a doctoral student at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona, was the recipient of the 2008/2009 grant of J$1 million, which finances her 18-month study on community mechanisms for environmental management and sustainable development in rural Jamaica. Given the context of increased global concerns about environmental degradation and climate change, Ms. Myers is confident that her study is relevant, timely and vital to assessing the extent of vulnerability of rural communities in Jamaica. Her work seeks to highlight the factors that engender different attitudes and behaviours toward the environment. The research focuses on the activities of stakeholder groups at the community level and will analyse the roles and benefits of existing community development structures, including government, non-government agencies and other entities.
An estimated 300,000 deaths could have been prevented over the last 25 years in highly motorised countries by the use of seatbelts (FIA). Thousands of preventable deaths and injuries are due to the absence or misuse of seatbelts. It is a proven fact that during and immediately following similar seatbelt campaigns worldwide, there is a significant reduction in fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents; with a general downward trend as a lasting impact between campaigns. The Jamaica Automobile Association and the JN Foundation recognise this, and believe in the sustainable change advocacy projects such as these can have on national psyches. We have created “Make it Click!” - the National Seatbelt Campaign, to address these needs for Jamaicans in an impactful and creative format with a specific goal of reducing the number of road traffic fatalities by addressing specifically the risk of not wearing seat belts.
Launched in October 2008 and spearheaded by the Lions Clubs of Jamaica with funding from The Chase Fund and the JN Foundation, the project has been successful in the registering of blind and visually impaired persons across the island. Previously, there was no nationwide database of blind persons, so providing facilities and services to meet their needs was ad hoc and uncoordinated. It is providing tangible access to the practical support, special education, skills training, employment opportunities and other services that exist to improve their self-sufficiency and overall standard of living. The Foundation donated J$750,000 to the registration drive, which took place between October and November 2008.
This year let us celebrate Child's Month (MAY) by honouring the hopes and dreams of our children for a safer and more prosperous Jamaica. As prosperity and tranquility start with a sound education, what better gift can we offer all our nation's children, than that of solid reading and writing skills?
Help the Jamaica Partnership for Education(JPE) raise J$3,000,000.00 by May 31st 2011. Every $1.00 donated will be used to improve literacy rates in primary schools.
Make your contribution at
Any JN Bank and JN Money Transfer locations
Any JN Moneyshop
Online @ LIVE by JN
To learn more about JPE please visit our JN Foundation facebook page and view our video logs on the JN Foundation You Tube channel.