Tyrone Kiwanis club delivers a bit of paradise to Jamaica

When you think of Montego Bay Jamaica, you think of golf, the beach, tropical drinks and the resorts. Many don’t think of how poverty ridden the island country actually is.
To do the math, $700 to the average American is a decent amount of money, but to Jamaican’s, it is the equivalent of $22,000.
In just a few months in their program called ‘Spare Change’, the Tyrone Kiwanis Club along with the Kiwanis Clubs from El Dorado and Philipsburg raised $700 as a gift to the Blossom Garden Orphanage in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
“Kiwanis Clubs has been working with this orphanage since I joined the Club nearly four years ago,” said Tyrone Kiwanis club president Chuck Banas. “We started collecting spare change in December, and we presented it to the Orphanage. The $700 that we raised will provide the children at the orphanage mulit-vitamins for the next two years.”
The Blossom Garden Orphanage in Montego Bay has a capacity for 70 children, but currently houses 80.
“The law in Jamaica is for the Orphanage to accept any child that the State places there,” said Banas. “It doesn’t matter how filled the Orphanage is, they must accept any child that is brought there.”
Children at the Blossom Garden range from a few weeks old until the ages of 12.
Every march, a work party from Kiwanis International ventures to the Orphanage to fix things up and help in whatever way they can.
“This year, the work party repainted the outside of the building,” said Banas. “They also hand poured a cement patio. The members of the Kiwanis work parties, pay their own expenses and do the work as a volunteer project.”
Jamaica has its tourist attractions, its beautiful beaches, but is a third world country.
“When you leave the resorts, you see how poverty stricken that these people are,” said Banas. “It sure doesn’t take long to go from paradise to the middle of the third world.”
After presenting the gift of $700 to Paola Brown, the Director of the Blossom Garden Orphanage, Banas and his family took some time to meet the kids the Kiwanis were helping.
“It is great to see that through the help of many, these kids are taken care of in a clean environment,” said Banas. “These kids have nothing, they don’t even own the clothes on their backs. When they go on their break for Oranges, here are these kids who have nothing, but they’re willing to share half of their Orange with you.
“We took our six year-old grandson Zachary with us and he came away with a good lesson,” Banas added. “He has talked about the kids down there not getting to see their Mom and Dad and not having toys to play with. For a six year-old, it was a real eye opener.”
The Kiwanis Clubs are still taking donations to help the Blossom Garden Orphanage.
“There is always a need for medicine,” said Banas. “The Orphanage gets about 20% of their funding from the Jamaican government. They rely on churches and other organizations to get them through the year. They need money for paper, paint, furniture and medical supplies, plus there is a need for a doctor to help out. If you are interested in donating anything, talk to any Kiwanis Club member.”
The spare change of people throughout Northern Blair County has made a huge difference in the lives of 80 Jamaican children.