Charities Operating in JamaicaLimited health care resources including insufficient facilities and professionals, pose a significant challenge to Jamaica’s well-being. The economic aftershocks of COVID-19 resulted in an approximate 9% plunge in the country’s real GDP between 2019 and 2020. Further exacerbating the situation is the prevalence of food and water insecurity, where many communities face inconsistent access to clean water and affordable, nutritious food.

Fortunately, many organizations in Jamaica are actively engaged in the recovery process with poverty reduction initiatives. Highlighted below are five charities operating in Jamaica, all of which help to support the most vulnerable communities across the island.

5 Charities Operating in Jamaica

  1. Angels of Love Jamaica – A complex web of societal challenges such as outdated health care systems, prevalent violence and income inequalities closely connect to the deprivation of children in Jamaica. According to a 2017 report, Jamaica was among the countries that experienced the highest rates of child homicide in 2015, at a total of 13 per 100,000 population. On top of that, Jamaican children are also prone to HIV/SIDA, with around 10% of patients under 18 years of age. To address issues of physical and mental illnesses, Angels of Love Jamaica began its journey in 2009. This non-governmental organization focuses on improving the conditions of these children by providing critical services, including lifesaving treatments, health care provisions and educational assistance, among other supportive contributions. In 2017, 50 Jamaican children with cancer enrolled in the NGO’s programs for free medical examinations, weekly hospital visits, sorting prosthetics, financial support and more.
  2. ISSA Trust Foundation – Couples Resorts established the foundation in 2005. It strives to provide a system of prevention, promotion and community health improvements for the people of Jamaica. The Issa Trust Foundation also emphasizes its vision to improve the welfare of Jamaican children through a concentrated focus on pediatric health care and education. It undertakes a variety of proactive campaigns, such as hosting annual charity concerts and constructing children’s health care centers. Moreover, the Foundation facilitates the provision of essential medical equipment and services, all of which focus on enhancing the quality of life for the younger generation. Since its establishment, thousands of Jamaican children have been treated with care in Negril and Ocho Rios.
  3. Heart Foundation Jamaica – Cardiovascular disease is another prevalent contributor to mortality in Jamaica. In 2014, noncommunicable diseases resulted in 15,380 deaths, of which cardiovascular disease accounted for a substantial 6,504 cases. Out of cardiovascular conditions, cerebrovascular disease caused a total of 2,637 people’s lives. In response to these death rates, the Heart Foundation Jamaica aims to improve conditions by providing cardiovascular health research, training, treatment and promotion. For more than 50 years, the foundation has been raising awareness, generating necessary funding and orchestrating various events, from golf tournaments to marathon runs/walks. The Foundation’s goal is to reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases in Jamaica by 25% in 2025.
  4. Food for the Poor – In 2020, the issue of food insecurity worsened in Jamaica, with 12.8% of the population reporting inadequate access to food in 2021. This figure doubled the projection that the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service made in pre-COVID-19 times. On the other end, water scarcity has also been a problem for many Jamaican residents. Challenges surrounding water insecurity are primarily due to old and overwhelmed water systems. Some elements of which were established as far back as the 1800s and others in the 1960s, causing difficulties in meeting water demands of the population. Based in the U.S., Food for the Poor is “the largest charity organization in Jamaica.” Since 1982, it works with various organizations across the country, including churches, directly helping the poor. The organization has its own emergency relief aid programs that focus on helping people struggling with water, sanitation, health care, housing, agriculture and more. In January 2023, the organization provided around 1,000 food packages to people living in rural communities of Jamaica with the goal of “spread[ing] the joy of giving to those in need.”
  5. Jamaica Red Cross – Jamaica is no stranger to natural disasters, frequently facing various forms of environmental threats such as droughts, storms and floods. According to the World Bank, between 1980 and 2020, the country experienced an annual average of 20 storm events, seven instances of flooding and three periods of drought. The Jamaica Red Cross confronts the need for effective disaster management alongside many other supportive programs. From youth development and first aid training to restoring family links and equipment rental, the organization carries out a diverse portfolio of initiatives to improve the well-being of residents in Jamaica. The organization’s “Meals on Wheels” program provides approximately 100 Jamaican citizens per week with necessary food in and around Kingston.

These five charities operating in Jamaica play an essential role in addressing the country’s pressing issues from poverty and health care shortages to food and water insecurity. Along with many other organizations, charities in Jamaica are filling crucial gaps and offering hope to those in need. Through their dedicated work, such groups are not just providing immediate relief but are also working towards long-term, sustainable solutions that aim to reduce poverty and foster a more resilient nation.

– James Bao
Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Jamaica
Jamaica, the fourth largest island country in the Caribbean, is hungry. The root of hunger is based on inequality and racism. Grassroots projects and programs are developed to alleviate an empty tummy. Here are the top 10 facts about hunger in Jamaica:

  1. Jamaica is highly focused on the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDG), especially the ones that address the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger across the globe. After the devastating global recession, Jamaica is keen that their strategies for poverty reduction are financially supported.
  2. Jamaica is not all poverty yet lines of marginalization are obvious. Not far from the country’s wealthy communities live the Jamaicans that have limited access to clean water, food supply, health care and education.
  3. Hunger in Jamaica is largely a reflection of racial inequality. With a heritage rooted in slavery, descendants of black slaves hold a much larger probability of residing amongst the poorest classes of Jamaica. Meanwhile, descendants of the white race and mixed-race plantation owners tend to be much better off.
  4. Most Jamaicans in poverty spend more than half of their income on food. Due to Jamaica’s extreme inflation and reliance on imports, hunger in Jamaica is greatly exacerbated. Despite governmental food subsidy programs, Jamaica’s poor have to spend a large portion of their small incomes on the basics just to survive.
  5. The main cause of nutritional problems in Jamaica still appears to be the lack of economic access to food. With almost 20 percent of the national population living below the poverty line (and many additionally living in rural lands, an unfortunate compounding factor), access to socio-economic infrastructures is nearly impossible.
  6. The rural land doesn’t encapsulate all of Jamaica’s poverty, as high levels of malnutrition in the cities have been observed as well. The urban sectors exemplify an unfortunately high level of unemployment and a decreasing percentage of mothers that are breastfeeding their newborns, ultimately depriving young children of essential nutrients.
  7. Teachers and school staff in Jamaica see hunger as a painful challenge in the everyday lives of students. Inattentive, moody and exhibiting behavioral problems, hungry children struggle to reap the benefits of their education due to malnutrition.
  8. Food For The Poor, a charity organization, is spearheading self-sustaining agriculture projects at schools in order to provide healthy foods for daily meals and combat hunger in Jamaica. At-risk students gain hands-on experience in agriculture and learn methods of self-sustainability. School staff notes that the rate of student attendance has greatly improved as a result of these projects.
  9. The National Infant and Young Child Feeding Policy is an advancement introduced to reduce rates of morbidity and mortality among children. In a nutshell, the policy advocates for the promotion of both breastfeeding and adequate weaning practices. From ages six months to two years old, the policy seeks to encourage breastfeeding and, subsequently, adequate solid foods. According to both the WHO and UNICEF, the mental development of children who are exclusively breastfed is better than those who are not.
  10. Executed by an NGO, The Roving Caregivers Programme (RCP) focuses on providing child-rearing knowledge and practices to parents of children younger than four. Through home visits with trained personnel, families are given ideas for income-generating activities and are provided a heavy focus on the health and nutrition of the children.

The above-mentioned facts about hunger in Jamaica reflect the need for a global shift in the widening gap of global income inequality. To be hungry and experience malnutrition is largely a result of lacking an adequate income to feed a household as well as little to no access to healthy and nourishing foods. Luckily, the presence of grassroots programs and education are turning the tides and allowing for a self-sustainable community, and these facts are just the beginning of instilling awareness among the masses.

– Mary Grace Miller
Photo: Pixabay