Each year, the Rochester Jamaican Organization chooses a beneficiary for our annual fundraising gala. Given the Theodora Project's track record for the past ten years, we are pleased to continue with our support of this very deserving organization. Our impact also includes past support for students attending the Rose Hill and McCooks Pen Primary Schools and the Edna Manley School of Performing Arts.
In 2013, the Theodora Project was the chosen beneficiary, and since then they have remained a beneficiary of our fundraising ventures. Originally a ministry of the Negril United Church (Negril, Jamaica), the Theodora Project is a non-profit organization founded in 2004 by the late Rev. Dr. Margaret Fowler in response to the problem of human trafficking, focusing on Negril in Western Jamaica. Their mission is to “empower young people who are at risk of being exploited in human trafficking and the commercial sex trade by offering opportunities for education, skills training, and personal development”.
Through the support of Shared Hope International. A Washington DC-based organization committed to the eradication of human trafficking worldwide, the first block of classrooms of the Theodora Skills Training Center was built and a year later they added the Theodora Safe House, a residential facility to safely house female students, and provided them with personal and social development support. Counseling is an integral part of the Theodora Project as many students suffer from low self-esteem and a myriad of other personal issues.
Training is offered in the areas of cosmetology, data operations, food and beverage (bartending), hospitality, and housekeeping. The center became an official Human Employment and Resource Training/National Training Agency (HEART/NSTA) program in 2012.
On completion, students are awarded the National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J) certification.
The expanding tourist industry of Jamaica is a ‘double-edged sword’. On the one hand, it has resulted in economic stability in some sectors, but on the other, it has increased human and drug trafficking and other problems fueled by growing poverty in other sectors. Young people become victims of this early in life. RJO and the church communities believe educational success equips people with skills that enable them to make healthier decisions.
Despite financial challenges, coupled with the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Theodora Project continues to thrive. Enrollment continues to rise and in November 2022 eighty-six students, most of whom enrolled just before the start of the pandemic, graduated. Through the joint efforts of the Rotary Clubs of Calgary and Negril, supported by generous donors, a third state-of-the-art classroom block, equipped with a smart board, was opened in June 2022. The project has an impressive record with over 91% of its graduates being employed; some have even started their own businesses.
RJO has been a supporter of the Theodora Project for the past ten years, and given its track record, we are pleased to continue with our support of this very deserving organization.
Details about this program or initiative
Details about this program or initiative here.