Renowned playwright, Trevor Rhone has donated his family home in Bellas Gate, St. Catherine for the construction of a basic school, community/skills training centre and visitor's lodge.
Several residents of the community, which served as the inspiration for Rhone's very popular play, 'Bellas Gate Boy', came out on Monday (Jan.19), to participate in the clearing of the one hectare (three-acre) property for the project.
According to Mr. Rhone, very little growth has taken place in Bellas Gate since he was a boy, and young persons there yearn for training and employment opportunities. He therefore deemed it his responsibility, to give back to the community in which he was brought up, by helping to better the social and economic situation of the young people, who reside in the area.
"This property is where I grew up as a child, and all my dreams are buried here. Today is like a resurrection of many of these dreams, not so much for myself, but for the young people in the community," he stated. He noted that over the years, the property, which includes a house, has "just ran into disrepair and ruin, and I promised myself that I would come back one day and resurrect the place that nurtured me, and gave me an experience; an act of joy and wonderment in many ways." Mr. Rhone said he hopes to see the project completed within the next three years. Meanwhile, President of the Bellas Gate Community Development Committee, Juliet Henry, expressed gratitude to Mr. Rhone, noting that the project is the realization of the dreams of residents. "This project that is happening here today, we are very grateful. We have been lobbying for a basic school for the longest while. We are very grateful to the Rhone family, who are allowing us to achieve what we are about to achieve in Bellas Gate, with the basic school and the community centre," she said. She further stated that the skills training centre will be good for the youth, as many are in need of the opportunities for advancement, which this will provide.
The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) is instrumental in the project, as the agency will be funding the construction of the basic school, on which work is slated to begin soon.