Sandals Foundation provides back to school support for parents in the west

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Westmoreland– As many parents across the island continue to navigate the new normal of online learning and back-to-school demands for their children, things have been made a bit easier for Westmoreland couple Marcia Shand and Ian Satchwell.

The parents had their prayers answered last year when the Sandals Foundation, through its Care for Kids Programme, offered a full scholarship to their youngest child, Sajoya Satchwell after she was awarded a spot at the illustrious Hampton School.

“I was so happy when I heard that Sajoya has passed for Hampton, said Marcia, but then I said Lord where are we going to get (it) from to send her.” Marcia recalls that at the time she only had one job taking care of an elderly lady and for Sajoya’s Father, a freelance electrician, jobs were very scarce. “I was excited for Sajoya but I was a little worried.”

Also excited about news of Sajoya’s achievement was Astil Gage, a community member and family friend. Astil was aware of the Sandals Foundation and it’s programmes and promised Marcia that he would reach out to them [Sandals Foundation] on the family’s behalf.

Marcia said when they got the application forms for the programme it had a deadline date of July and they were submitting almost close to the end of August. “Someone actually told us that it was too late and that we wouldn’t have a chance at getting through, said Marcia, but I was praying constantly.”

The day Marcia got the call informing her that Sajoya had received the scholarship from the Sandals Foundation, she was overjoyed.  “I can never forget that day; I was doing a day’s work washing some clothes when I got the call.”

In addition to small odd jobs, Marcia does a little farming and raises chickens but despite the best efforts of her and her partner, she says it is still sometimes difficult to make ends meet so the scholarship was a blessing.

“The Sandals Foundation scholarship has helped me a lot, as I don’t have to think about where I’m going to get the school fee from.  Whatsoever is left I put it towards the travelling expenses. It allows me to focus on other things like household bills and living expenses.”

Sajoya is also grateful for the Care for Kids scholarship. “I cried on the first day at school, she said, I had dreamt of attending Hampton for as long as I could remember and I was so overcome with emotion about being there finally.” Sajoya says she owes a debt of gratitude to the Sandals Foundation and vowed to do her very best to keep her grades up. Thus far she has been doing just that.

THEN CAME COVID

Five months after Sajoya shed those tears of joy and just as she was settling in to her dream school, COVID-19 hit and like millions of students around the world, Sajoya has had to get used to a new way of life or shall we say learning.

“My days now are filled with online classes and the struggles of trying to submit my work given the sometimes inconsistent service where I live. But if there’s one thing Corona is teaching me it’s how to be a problem solver,” says Sajoya.

The Sandals Foundation Care for Kids scholarship programme is a five year programme awarded to high performing students entering high school. Since 2009 this programme has allowed close to 200 students across eight Caribbean islands to pursue their high school education by covering the cost of tuition, uniforms and other expenses.

In the wake of COVID-19, the Sandals Foundation, under its Lessons Alive social media campaign, is currently on a drive to raise funds that will provide school supplies and resources to help with educational expenses as well as acquire much-needed items to reconfigure school operations in order to meet recently implemented health, safety and sanitation measures.

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