She was looking around for a
Christmas project to introduce a child
sponsorship programme to local schools and hit upon the
idea of the Christmas shoe boxes.
"The ideal way is to do something children
can actively get involved with. I figured if they could do
it in the UK, we would do it in the Caribbean," she says
||Thus began a project of love and
ingenuity. Their aim is to get at least 500 boxes to send to
Haiti and 150 to send to the Carib territory in Dominica, where
they will be personally delivered to poor children in those
countries. Already, over a dozen primary and secondary schools,
including Half Moon Primary, Hindsbury Primary, St Lucy Secondary
to name a few, are participating in the programme.
|However, anyone can get involved with the project,
which is exactly what they are hoping for in order to reach
In a fashion that has become typical of UCT, their
involvement with both Haiti and Dominica came in a somewhat roundabout
| In the course of
their inter-Caribbean ministry, they met Pastor
Gerald Lefleur of Restoration Ministries Antigua, a Haitian
living in Antigua, who had started Help For Haiti, a group which
does exactly what it says for his troubled homeland.
Since UCT is about "encompassing and uniting
people's visions" they decided to throw their support behind
it by coming up with a project to help the group.
"Help for Haiti is what this shoe box is all
about," says Jenny, with an emphatic tap of the colourfully-wrapped
box in front of her.
UCT's Dominican link comes through
one of their missionaries, Robertha Alleyne, who is of Dominican
Carib heritage and will be visiting Haiti over the Christmas
holidays. Dominica's Caribs are the poorest people in Dominica
and UCT's Christmas boxes will be going to help where they
are most needed.
(Seen here surrounded by gifts to be sent
|This almost accidental
way of coming across their projects is exactly how UCT was founded,
and so far, it has worked for them. They started off as a hurriedly
thrown together band of humanitarians back in 2004 when Hurricane
Ivan devastated neighbouring Grenada.
||"I was one of those crazy
people who jumped on a boat and went across to Grenada, (Carriacou)"
she says, with a burst of self-deprecating laughter.
Her intense greenish-brown eyes light up
behind her spectacles as she relates the tale of how she and
six others hopped onto the first boat they could find with
as many supplies as they could gather in a few days.
|"I had a great sense that
I was needed down in Grenada so we just went. I only expected
to be taking a few barrels, I didn't expect the great generosity
of the Barbadian public – we ended up with a whole boat-load
of stuff! There was a team of about seven of us – a band
of little warriors," she recalls.
Out of what was intended to be a one-off mission
of mercy, came the genesis of a bigger idea that eventually led
to the creation of the UCT.
"In most people's minds it was just a humanitarian
trip, but it started to become obvious that some kind of disaster
mitigation trust needed to be set up in the Caribbean. The bigger
picture started to be revealed like a jigsaw puzzle," Jenny
explains animatedly, her enthusiasm for her ever-evolving mission
As word of their work spread, they picked up sponsors,
friends and partners covering a range of different relief and charity
Which brings us back to Make
Jesus Smile. They have come a long way from the day they got
into a boat and set out into the unknown of a hurricane-ravaged
island. As Tryhane sums it up nicely, saying:
"Thank goodness we're sending Christmas
presents and not relief supplies this time!"
Compliments of the Nation
News by AMANDA LYNCH-FOSTER