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Make Jesus Smile

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Christmas 2006

Compliments of the Nation News by AMANDA LYNCH-FOSTER

Jenny Tryhane - Founder of United Caribbean Trust

This Christmas Jenny Tryhane's dearest wish is rather unconventional. It is not for those things which typically are thought to make the season bright such as lit-up Christmas trees, or sumptuous treats of ham and great cake.

Instead, all Jenny Tryhane (left) wants for Christmas is shoe-boxes – hundreds and hundreds of them.

Make Jesus Smile
Susanne Archer - UCT adminstrator helping with the project
Make Jesus Smile

There are a few provisos, of course. She would greatly appreciate if you put a little something in it. It doesn't have to be anything fancy – some crayons or a small stuffed animal, or maybe some ribbons and bows or a toy car.

Even basic items such as toothbrushes and washcloths can be included. Anything that will bring Christmas joy to the hundreds of orphans and poor children around the Caribbean to whom these boxes will be going, is welcomed. And wrap it up prettily, please.

See, it's all part of a scheme, grand in its simplicity, called Make Jesus Smile.

Jenny is the founder of United Caribbean Trust, a two-year-old Christian charity group with a Caribbean outlook, and Make Jesus Smile is their Christmas programme this year.

She got the inspiration from another similar Christian relief group, the United Kingdom-based Samaritan's Purse, who run a very popular programme called Operation Christmas Child.


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 chirpily.

Hindsbury Primary

Half Moon Primary 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 their targets. St Lucy Secondary

In a fashion that has become typical of UCT, their involvement with both Haiti and Dominica came in a somewhat roundabout way.

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. West Terrace Primary

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.

Robertha Alleyne UCT  Haiti co ordinator

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 to Haiti)

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 evident.

As word of their work spread, they picked up sponsors, friends and partners covering a range of different relief and charity activities.

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


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