I wrote recently about the work of the sailors on the U.S. Navy hospital ship “Comfort,” which has been docked in Kingston Harbour since last week. The sailors recently helped out with the refurbishing of the Ozanam Home for the Aged. The following day more volunteers dropped by the Rennock Lodge All Age School, off Windward Road – musical instruments (and gifts) in hand.
In case you don’t know where it is, Rennock Lodge All Age is tucked away in East Kingston – a gritty part of town, not far from where the ship is docked, just behind the Jamaica Flour Mills and the oil refinery. The weather is hot and it’s hard to avoid the dust and the wind, but soon after the sailors arrived, music was in the air for the children, who benefited from a community relations event in support of Continuing Promise 2015. Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show U.S. support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean. The last visit of the “Comfort” to Jamaica was in 2011.
The school is one of those which is taking some positive steps in the face of a challenging economic and social environment. Since last year, Principal Jacqueline Lewis has devoted her own personal time, effort and funds to get an amazing agricultural program off the ground. It is already thriving, providing eggs, chickens and vegetables for the school’s use and for sale to raise much-needed funds. The students are learning as they go – hands on – and the surrounding community is supportive of their efforts. More power to Ms. Lewis and to the school!