BBF Staff Visits Jamaica

February 2009
By Liam Carstens 

The last week of February, I was able to travel to Jamaica to tour the operations of some of Brother’s Brother Foundation’s long-standing partners. Food for the Poor (FFTP) has worked with BBF in Jamaica for many years.

In 2008, BBF and FFTP distributed over $161 million in donated pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and books. It was an exhausting, whirlwind tour of medical, educational and humanitarian projects that have been supported by donations from BBF and it was worth every minute. The opportunity to witness the distribution and utilization of medicine, hospital equipment, books and shoes donated by BBF was an invaluable experience that has already helped the way that I think about BBF’s donation programs.

In Kingston, I was taken to a range of hospitals and clinics that are supplied with some of our donations by our partner, Food for the Poor. We toured all types of medical facilities, from small clinics like the Hagley Park Health Centre, to large hospitals like Kingston Public Hospital, which receives referrals from throughout the English speaking Caribbean. In addition, I was able to tour specialist hospitals like National Chest Hospital, Bellevue Hospital and the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

In every hospital, clinic and elderly home visited, I was able to speak with at least one official from the hospital who conveyed his or her needs and wishes. I was also able to witness the distribution of pharmaceuticals to the patients, which was great to see. I truly appreciated seeing the bags and bottles of an individual prescription being filled; this was a contrast to the pallets of pharmaceuticals that we handle in our warehouse in Pittsburgh.

While I was predominantly in Kingston, I did get a chance to travel out to Clarendon Parish and visit with representatives of JAMALCO, a Jamaican subsidiary of ALCOA which has been receiving books for the children and adults of Jamaica for over twenty years. I was lucky to tour various basic, primary and secondary schools that had received books from BBF’s book program. I am happy to report that principals and librarians (as well as students) were eager to show their appreciation, and also gently reminded me that there is always more work to be done.