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On Wednesday October 1, 2014, My wife Gillian and I had the pleasure to travel to Free Hill Primary School with some other guests and Diane Pollard, CEO of the Issa Trust Foundation.
The school is located up in the hills of St. Mary's Parrish, and is very remote. Upon pulling into the driveway, I wasn't sure that this was actually a school, as it looked more like a factory, not a place of education as we in Canada and the US are used to. First thing I noticed was there are no windows, only shutters and cinder blocks with decorative holes for ventilation. The principal, Mr. Murphy, greeted us with a warm smile and a handshake, and led us into the center courtyard. The school is basically "U" shaped, with an inner open area where the students play, have recess, snacks, and lunch.

We did get to enter a couple of classes to observe, where we were greeted extremely politely by the teachers and students. Some students even sang for us, which was quite a treat. This is a school with very limited resources, but filled with caring teachers and students who are eager to learn.

I could probably describe all the things that they do have, but I think describing what they don't have may give a better sense of the conditions there.

Windows. As I said before, there are no windows, just shutters and cinder blocks with decorative openings on the exterior. There is no air conditioning.

There are no walls between some of the classrooms. Only blackboards on stands used to divide the classes. The rooms are small, and not well lit.

There is no playground, just a couple of rusted basketball nets with no webbing and no backboards. There is a swing set without any swings. There is no soccer field, baseball field, monkey bars, or climbing sets. They have nothing of the sort. All things that we take for granted. This school's students range in age from 4 to 12 years old, and it is certainly not a place that any of us would ever send our own kids to.

Alas they do get by, even with the limited supplies and facilities they have. In compared to what we have though, they have nothing.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Issa Trust and it's staff, the school does have a new classroom, separate from the others for those student who need a more quiet area for learning, without the distraction of having to hear whats being taught in the next classroom. But they do need more.
This 2 hour trip was a learning experience for both of us, to actually see how others live in this world. We have been humbled.

I urge all guests to take the trip and see for yourselves, get an appreciation for what we take for granted. Bring some school supplies of pens and pencils, crayons and paper, books, and craft paper. Donate to the Issa Trust. If we all pitch in, even just a few dollars, we, as a group who travel from far and wide to enjoy our vacations in paradise, who have fallen in love with this little island and the people of Jamaica, will make a difference in a child's life. We are all of this world, so please, support our world.