A Gift of Two Schools: A Priceless Legacy of Learning for Dozens of Jamaica's Children

Rebecca Block, 23, was one of a group of Lynn University students who traveled with FFP on a Journey of Hope mission trip to Jamaica in January 2010.

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (May 9, 2012) — A mission trip to Jamaica with Food For The Poor ignited a spark in the heart of one young woman whose compassionate enthusiasm is making a positive impact in the lives of dozens of young children today.  

“I believe helping the children is where everything starts,” said Rebecca Block. “As long as they have safe schools to learn and to thrive in, that is all that matters. It gives me joy, it gives me hope, and it makes me excited for the future of these kids.”  

It all started when Block and a group of student volunteers from Lynn University traveled to the island nation in January 2010 with the international relief and development agency Food For The Poor. On that trip, Block said she saw many things, but when the group was told that schools were being closed due to improper classrooms and facilities, and children had nowhere to learn, she knew she had to help.

“I told my parents about my emotional trip and this need to do something positive about it. I brought up the idea of a school because of what I had heard, and my family agreed,” said Block.

The Morris Hall Basic School was built in St. Catherine, Jamaica, in 2010, through Food For The Poor, after Rebecca Block won the support of the Hahn-Block Foundation.

With the support of the Hahn-Block Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in Westlake Village, Calif., founded by Block’s parents nearly 15 years ago, the Morris Hall Basic School in St. Catherine, Jamaica, was built through Food For The Poor in 2010. Fast-forward two years, and Block’s determination has resulted in funding for a second school. The United Basic School, located in Pepper District, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, also will be built through Food For The Poor.

This unfinished church is currently doubling as the United Basic School in Pepper District, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, for dozens of young students.

“Education is so very important because it provides people with an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty, but these much needed skills must be introduced to the minds of Jamaica’s children while they are very young,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “It’s unfortunate, but many school buildings in Jamaica need to be torn down and reconstructed, so Rebecca’s desire to get these basic schools built not only will help children now, but hundreds of children for years to come will benefit from her effort.  She’s truly an amazing young woman.” 

The future looks bright for 23-year-old Block, who will be graduating on Saturday from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations. She says she’s then heading out to Los Angeles to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising for a degree in Visual Communications. Block says wherever she goes she will always remember Jamaica, and that the experience there has changed her life for the better.

Food For The Poor has constructed 41 basic schools in Jamaica since 2004, and has replaced 50 pit latrines with flush toilet systems in schools across the island.
To mark Jamaica’s golden anniversary on Aug. 6, 2012, Food For The Poor is launching the “Jamaica 50 Campaign” to build 50 schools in 50 months. The initiative will work like this: 

  • In August of 2012, the first school will open, and then a new school will open each month for the next 50 months.
  • Food For The Poor will replace a school that has been targeted by a community that’s been deemed as an unfit space for children to learn.

Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.


Wanda Wright
Food For The Poor
Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6079