Palm Beach Teen Builds his Third School in Jamaica
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Oct. 21, 2019) Hundreds of students at Iona High School in Tower Isle, St. Mary, Jamaica, started the fall semester with two new buildings on campus, thanks to the determination of a talented and compassionate high school student in Palm Beach, Fla.
Rafe Cochran, 14, a ninth-grader at Oxbridge Academy, in West Palm Beach, was excited to be back in Jamaica for the dedication of the new buildings. These much-needed spaces were the result of the Fourth Annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic, a fundraising golf tournament at Banyan Cay Resort & Golf, in West Palm Beach, in April.
"It is so rewarding to see this project come to life," Rafe said. "My inspiration to help people in Haiti and Jamaica started in third grade, when my class visited Food For The Poor in Coconut Creek, Fla. On that visit, I was so devastated by the stories and pictures of so many children in need. I knew I had to help. I was motivated to use my platform as a golfer to raise money."
Rafe is committed to the sport, picking up his first set of golf clubs at the age of 6. At 9, he became one of Food For The Poor's youngest donors. When he was 11, he started the Rafe Cochran Golf Classic, using his talents on the course to raise awareness and money to help others in need. Since the first golf tournament in 2016, Rafe has built 10 homes in Haiti and three schools in Jamaica through Food For The Poor.
"His heart's desire is to ensure that others have the same opportunities that he has been given, including education and a safe place to live," Food For The Poor Senior Field Representative Delane Bailey-Herd said. "I admire his parents. They have supported and stood by Rafe every single step of the way."
Bailey-Herd accompanied Rafe and his parents, Jay and Diahann Cochran, to Jamaica. When they arrived for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Iona High School, they were greeted by hundreds of students, staff and local officials who wanted to meet the young man who has earned the respect of many on the island nation.
"I would like to congratulate Rafe for being a conduit of the Lord, because He has used you in ways that you wouldn't even understand," said the Hon. Robert Montague, Minister of Transport and Mining & Member of Parliament St. Mary Western. "You have not only affected Iona High School, you have affected the whole island of Jamaica."
Rafe dedicated the buildings at Iona High School to his parents for their support and to his grandparents, Susan P. Cochran, and Mr. and Mrs. Ron Romeo, for their wisdom. He named each classroom with a trait he believes everyone should aspire to have – motivation, integrity, compassion, kindness, endurance, confidence and respect.
The outpouring of gratitude at the ceremony was a moving experience for the Cochrans, who also helped to paint one of the buildings a brilliant blue.
"Rafe is taking us on this journey with him, and this trip was really wonderful," Diahann said. "No matter what you do in life, you're not going to enjoy doing it unless you experience it from the ground up. You have to be a part of it and meet the people you are helping."
Rafe presented the students with backpacks and school supplies. He also encouraged fellow teens at Iona High School to find their own ways of giving back, and make their own impact.
"I will continue on my journey of raising money to fund different projects with Food For The Poor," Rafe said. "I will continue to help one person, one family and one school at a time in order to make a difference. Students, you are never too young to take action and make a difference."
While in Jamaica, the Cochrans visited Chester Primary and Infant School, in St. Ann where Rafe funded a building for 3-to 5-year-olds, two years ago. They also visited Runaway Bay All-Age School, a school Rafe built to accommodate staff and more than 400 students last year.
"The word 'pride' doesn't even begin to capture how the Cochrans must feel about all the accomplishments of their son, who's barely a teen," Food For The Poor Executive Director Angel Aloma said. "We are honored that Rafe has made Food For The Poor his charity choice."
To experience Rafe's latest visit to Jamaica go to: www.foodforthepoor.org/rafe2019
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for orphaned or abandoned children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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