GoodHeart | Rose Town Foundation continues to pursue sustainable development
US ambassador moved by visit to old community
Jamaica-born United States Ambassador Noah Nickolas Perry stood with tears in his eyes, pointing towards one of the lanes he grew up in, in the inner city community of Rose Town, near Trench Town, in Kingston last Friday afternoon.
“This is where I am coming from, and to come back now as the US ambassador to Jamaica brings tears to my eyes,” he declared during a tour of the area with the Rose Town Foundation chair, Michele Rollins and her team.
“I walked these streets. I grew up there,” he pointed, adding that it was not until he was six that his family moved from the area to the nearby Whitfield Town.
The ambassador’s exit from the inner city was bolstered by a full scholarship he received to Kingston College and his service in the US Army, which propelled him to higher education. “He then became the councilman of Brooklyn and moved on and up to become the ambassador, which is such a success story for the little kids in Rose Town,” stated Rollins, adding that Perry is now trying to determine what role he and the United States government might be able to play in the revitalisation of the area.
Last Friday, she said he was excited about the Rose Town Foundation, which was established in 2010 to assist in creating opportunities and development programmes for residents, and was happy to be reunited with his roots.
Rose Town’s international link is The Prince’s Foundation, founded by King Charles III. On a visit to Rose Town in 2008, he was impressed with the community members’ desire to improve their community and offered support. His support has continued today.
“We have sustained ourselves with the generosity of His Majesty the King through the Jamaican community and our US donors,” revealed Rollins, who hosted a dinner at her Rose Hall Great House historical attraction in Montego Bay last Saturday night.
Jeremy Cross, associate director (international), of The Prince’s Foundation, who was in attendance at the dinner event, told The Gleaner that King Charles has visited Rose Town on several occasions, where he was struck by not only by the need to regenerate the area but also the determination and courage of local residents working to improve the neighbourhood for the whole community of Rose Town.
“Over the years since those visits, The Prince’s Foundation has supported a number of projects in Rose Town, including the development of a community-led comprehensive plan for renewal, the re-provision of a road reconnecting the communities of upper and lower Rose Town, a community farm and the transformation of a key derelict building at the centre of the former ‘no-man’s land’ as a community training and enterprise centre,” he noted.
The Prince’s Foundation, he added, continues to provide technical support for the regeneration of Rose Town, currently including a project focused on sustainable textiles and fashion as a means of promoting social and economic renewal.
Another initiative, he said, will help the Rose Town farm to grow as a model for education and training in a wide range of areas, including horticulture, food education, farming and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, drawing on the practice and work of The Prince’s Foundation.
For more than 50 years, King Charles has been at the forefront of championing sustainability, and yet it is only in the last few years that the relationship between increasing and often rapid urbanisation, natural resource depletion, and climate change has become more widely acknowledged, Cross told The Gleaner.
On the other hand, Rollins describes the King as an unsung hero for her in England. “Most people don’t know half of what he does, and most people don’t realise that he doesn’t have to do the half of what he does,” she stated.
In the beginning, it was he who got the Rose Town Foundation team a grant, which was used to pave Barnes Avenue in the area. Then, together, money was raised to put in standpipes for water.
Rollins said, when they started putting in infrastructure, her next thoughts were, “How can these people afford to pay for these things if there is no enterprise. They will be standing under the standpipes bathing and collecting water”.
That was how the foundation started with 10 men and women doing pottery with Dr Fosuwa Andoh, who studied at the Princess School of Traditional Arts in London.
A valuable skill was taught but Rollins regrets not teaching the residents to reserve their money to be in shows and was absent from the project while she did hip surgery.
The board of directors of the Rose Town Foundation includes former Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) president Patricia Francis, Ambassador Brenda Johnson, Consul General Alsion Wilson, Gore’s Christine Gore, Jamaica National’s Earl Samuels, social advocate Carol Narcisse, company secretary David Clarke and Ruth Jankee, executive director.
Donors over the years have included Jamaica Tours, Butch Hendrickson, Godfrey Dyer, the American Friends of Jamaica, Digicel Foundation, Rose Hall Developments, the Phillip and Christine Gore Family Foundation, C.B. Facey Foundation, CUSO International and the Prince’s Charities.