Tue | Jan 28, 2020

ICWI brightens Lighthouse Basic with Christmas charity

Published:Wednesday | December 18, 2019 | 12:11 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
ICWI Foundation members Kayla Lewis-Thomas (left), broker representative; Valerie Khani-Reynolds (centre), chairperson of the ICWI Grants Committee; and Simmone Reid-Pryce, broker representative, have fun with students of Light House Basic School in New Haven, St Andrew, on Monday.
ICWI Foundation members Kayla Lewis-Thomas (left), broker representative; Valerie Khani-Reynolds (centre), chairperson of the ICWI Grants Committee; and Simmone Reid-Pryce, broker representative, have fun with students of Light House Basic School in New Haven, St Andrew, on Monday.

Almost 40 children who attend the Lighthouse Basic School in New Haven, western St Andrew, were showered with gifts and loads of excitement on Monday, courtesy of the Insurance Company of the West Indies (ICWI) Foundation.

The children, who are from the community, enjoyed songs, games, ice cream, pastries, lots of food, and a bounceabout. They each received separate gift packages.

According to Valerie Khani-Reynolds, chairman of the foundation’s grants committee, this is the first time she brought a team to play and get familiarised with the youngsters.

However, there is a much bigger story than Khani-Reynolds and her team taking the Christmas spirit to the kids.

The foundation is the main reason the school exists today as seven years ago, the ministry ordered it closed because of its dilapidated state.

“This year, we decided to meet with the kids and integrate with them. We adopted this school in 2012,” she said, explaining that early childhood education is the foundation’s mandate.

She said that the Ministry of Education had given her a list of schools, but she took particular interest in Light House Basic all because of a “gut feeling”.

“The ministry said said they could not continue in that condition. At that time, there were 45 students. I took pictures and went back to the office for permission and got the go-ahead from my boss,” said Khani-Reynolds.

“We contacted the the ministry and told them the school won’t have to close because we would fix it.”

The foundation used the summer of 2012 to rebuild the school’s structures. Khani-Reynolds also shared that in order to ensure regular attendance, a meal is provided daily for all students.

“Kids used to stop because parents don’t have the lunch money. Early childhood is most crucial. You find that many children go to primary school and can’t perform,” she told The Gleaner.

Principal of the school since its inception 19 years ago, Kerry-Ann Ashbourne, said she was grateful

for the foundation’s years-long support.

“Before they came, we had a lot of rats and the place was just uncomfortable. There was a building, but over time, it deteriorated, and there were no funds. The children really like their school now,” said the principal. “We even have a white board.”

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com