Limited 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
- Angels of Love Jamaica – A complex web of societal challenges such as outdated health care systems, prevalent violence and income inequalities closely connect to the deprivation of children in Jamaica.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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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