Adventist News Network®

The official news service of the Seventh-day Adventist world church

Adventist youth initiative offers educational grants and free healthcare in Central Jamaica

Adventist youth initiative offers educational grants and free healthcare in Central Jamaica

Pastor Levi Johnson (right), president of Central Jamaica, addresses the gathering during the presentation of the $50,000.00 grant to one of the OSAY educational grant awardee Reyshena Brown of Magotty High School, in Comfort Hall, Manchester, Jamaica, Mar. 17, 2019. Dr. Clifton Knight (left), education director of Central Jamaica and Pastor Dane Fletcher, youth ministries director for the church in Jamaica as well as Pastor Billy Watson, Treasurer of Central Jamaica. [Photo Credit: Andrew Johnson]

Magnifying Glass View Larger

Twenty students received grants as part of the overall free medical and physical work undertaken by approximately 5,000 young people during the annual Operation Save-a-Youth (OSAY) held on March 17, 2019, in Manchester, Jamaica.  OSAY is a youth empowerment ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Central Jamaica region.

The main feature of this year’s OSAY was the community outreach projects where the youth assisted in the construction and beautification of homes in communities such as Colleyville, Victoria Town, Comfort Hall, Newport, Porus and Spur Tree.

Young people helped fix Carl Siddon’s one-bedroom broken down home that he shares with his wife and three children. Another notable project was refurbishing a one-bedroom home for a family of five in Porus, Manchester.

“I am very grateful for the help we have received,” said Siddon. “I am giving thanks because, on my own, I would not be able to accomplish what was done for me by OSAY.”

OSAY is not only about service to the community, but since 2016 is also about empowerment through educational grants, organizers said.

According to Pastor Kevan Barnaby, youth ministries director of the church’s central region, the 20 young people, ages 13-25, who attend university, high schools and colleges received grants this year. The educational grants total approximately $385.00 US dollars (or $50,000 Jamaican currency). To qualify for a grant, each young person had to write 300 words, expressing why they deserved the educational assistance as well as  provide proof that they are attending school.”

Pastor Levi Johnson, president of the church in Central Jamaica, said that OSAY is a critical ministry for youth outreach.

“If we do not empower our young people through education, the gangs will pick them up,” said Johnson. He explained that over 30 percent of young boys are out of school through expulsion or other reasons. Johnson promised that next year’s OSAY would see grants totalling $1.5 million Jamaican dollars being distributed. “Our church is committed to doing whatever it can to save our youths,” Johnson added.

Free Health Services

While most of the young people were out doing community services projects in the various communities, others assisted in the Free Community Health Clinic and Expo at the Cecil Charlton Park in the parish capital, Mandeville.

Three Mobile Clinics, the Three Angels Pharmacy, Braeton Adventist  Mobile Medical and Dental Clinic and the recently launched Jamaica Union HYPE (Help Young People Engage) Mobile Clinic, partnered with the church’s Central Jamaica health ministries department and the Manchester Health Department to offer free health services to approximately 200 persons.

Another critical effort of the day was a blood drive that took place on the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) main campus in Mandeville. Dozens donated blood amounting to 49 units on the day.

HEART NTA Assessment

Late in the evening, when most activities for OSAY 2019 were closed, there was still a long line of persons at the HEART (Human Employment and Resource Training) TRUST NTA booth waiting to be assessed. Based on reports, 187 persons were assessed and certified in areas such as cosmetology, hairdressing, barbering, and other related skills.

Since 2015, approximately 5,000 young church people have been recruited and organized into groups to carry out community services projects in one of the three parishes of the region. The organization seeks out young people from throughout the community to get involved in making a difference where they are.