Over Presidents Day weekend, St. John’s students and parents traveled to Jamaica to work with Food for the Poor (FFP). The annual building trip is organized by Craig Ruppert ‘71 and Chris David of Ruppert Landscape.
Elena Lohsen ‘21, who attended the trip, said, “It was very fun getting to know people in my community that I had never met. We are all in different clubs and sports here at Saint Johns, so I would never have met them if I did not go on the trip.”
Food for the Poor is the largest human relief organization in Jamaica. Their work is funded by donations. They are based in Florida and are an interdenominational Christian organization aiding development in 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries. They look to fill the most urgent needs in those areas and encourage self-sufficiency.
During their time with the organization, the St. John’s group was able to construct an entire school for in-need youth in Rose Heights, Jamaica. Rose Heights, a neighborhood in Montreal Bay, suffers significantly from violence, crime, and poverty. In fact, the State Department warns U.S. citizens not to travel to Rose Heights because of the regular occurrence of violence and shootings.
Despite this, SJC families wanted to help the children living in this environment to acquire an education. They worked hard building a school and painting it bright colors so that the students would feel happy and safe when they are learning.
They gained some insight about global poverty. Lohsen said, “I learned how poverty affects the physical and material aspects of people’s lives, but it did not affect their overall community spirit and love for each other. It connected people on a deeper level and inspired them to work towards a better future.”
Aminah Martin ‘22, another SJC volunteer, said, “It was important to me because I’ve been on service trips before and although they felt good to do, we didn’t get much work done. In this one we definitely did because we were only there for three days and we built an entire school because we had more people working on it.”