Children from Triumphant Basic School got a surprise on their last day of the school year: a tour of the new school they will return to in September. The project is the largest school build to date by Food For The Poor Canada and replaces a building that held 150 children in a two-room school. Many children in the area have to travel to distant communities due to the lack of space.

Principal Nathalie Samuels shared, “There was no place for the 3-year-olds to play, to sit for story time, and for the 4- and 5-year-olds, no individual classrooms. Noise between classes was very loud and distracting, children could not focus on what they were doing; they were watching what was happening in other classes. I am so thankful to be given this new school.”

Samantha Mahfood, Executive Director of Food For The Poor Canada: “We were thrilled to be a part of the team that built Triumphant Basic School; Food For The Poor has the privilege of working with so many great partners to change lives. This was an inspirational build, watching the different groups come together for the children to create a beautiful school. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation, Food For The Poor Jamaica, the community, the principal and her staff, and the contractors all worked together to create this spacious school.”

The Jamaican Minister of Education came to support the volunteers during the build as well as to celebrate with the community in Montpelier.

“We are fortunate that we have a place in early childhood education for every child. Access is one thing, quality is the next thing,” said Jamaican Minister of Education Rev. Ronald Thwaites, who kicked off the build on Tuesday with the volunteers. “The early childhood period is the most critical period in human development, and the life possibilities for these children will be greatly enhanced with this new facility.”

The build was supported by staff of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. led by CFO Ian Clarke, as well as the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation led by Karl Hale; the partnership raised over $150,000 CAD. 75 volunteers travelled from Canada to construct the school over four days.

Ian Clarke who led the 40 volunteers from MLSE has been part of 10 missions over the last 10 years ― 2 with Food For The Poor in Jamaica. He shared that he was, “Proud of each and every one of the volunteers. The 10 year journey was made richer by all of you; it’s been a great experience.”

An opening ceremony was held at the end of the week with volunteers, children, teachers and community members. The school will open its doors to 150 children in September.