May 25, 2003 - Jamaica Observer: Jamaica RPCV Aaron Laufer starts 'BREDS' in 1998, to help transform Treasure Beach through community action and partnerships with NGOs, civil society and the Government

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Jamaica: Peace Corps Jamaica : The Peace Corps in Jamaica: May 25, 2003 - Jamaica Observer: Jamaica RPCV Aaron Laufer starts 'BREDS' in 1998, to help transform Treasure Beach through community action and partnerships with NGOs, civil society and the Government

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, May 25, 2003 - 11:18 am: Edit Post

Jamaica RPCV Aaron Laufer starts 'BREDS' in 1998, to help transform Treasure Beach through community action and partnerships with NGOs, civil society and the Government

Jamaica RPCV Aaron Laufer starts 'BREDS' in 1998, to help transform Treasure Beach through community action and partnerships with NGOs, civil society and the Government

Contrasting faces of Treasure Beach
'BREDS' changing life in paradise
-- Dwight Bellanfanti
Sunday, May 25, 2003

A resident of Treasure Beach examines of the computers in the computer lab set up in that St Elizabeth community by 'BREDS'.

IN Treasure Beach on Jamaica's south coast, the contrast is stark: unspoilt beauty in a compelling writer's haven, rustic charm and the vista of paradise compete with familiar social malaise -- unemployment, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, drug abuse and poverty.

It was that contrast that spurred Jason Henzell, hotelier and son of the famous writer and filmmaker, Perry Henzell and United States Peace Corps volunteer, Aaron Laufer, to start 'BREDS' in 1998, to help transform Treasure Beach through community action and partnerships with NGOs, civil society and the Government, as well as concerned groups overseas.

"BREDS is short for 'brethren', a common greeting used by locals to acknowledge each other," Henzell explained. "At the heart of the project is the belief that Jamaica needs to realise the strength of volunteerism in building community life. I hope BREDS can be a catalyst in helping to make it more popular."

Through that non-profit vehicle, Henzell and his group set out to promote education, sports, cultural heritage and environmental awareness aimed at making the community of Treasure Beach more self-sustaining.
One of the 30 houses built by BREDS and Food For the Poor for the less fortunate in the Treasure Beach community.

BREDS' many initiatives since then have notably included the Treasure Beach Emergency Response Unit (TBERU), formed with the assistance of a team of 14 doctors from New York. Many of them were guests of Jakes, the environmentally-friendly resort owned and operated by Henzell. They initially trained 27 volunteers to be first responders in an emergency. Today the TBERU has four volunteers on call 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

Volunteers are trained to administer CPR and water rescue, as well as assisting victims of heart attacks, burns, strokes, choking and motor vehicle accidents. The Treasure Beach Emergency Response Unit has all the necessary first response medical equipment and is making a noticeable change in the safety and emergency capacity in the area.

BREDS has been able to unite the community around certain events such as the annual Hook 'N' Line Fishing Tournament which, combined with a donation from the member of parliament, Donald Buchanan, raised enough funds to build a repeater antenna for two-way radio communication for fishermen, the Neighbourhood Watch and the TBERU.

"Almost every family in Treasure Beach has lost somebody to the sea," lamented Oral Ebanks a fisherman who, between 1999 and 2002, lost five members of his crew to the sea. "But since BREDS, is like a new light in the area," he added.

The radio system works simply by outfitting each boat with a radio which is monitored by the boat's captain. Through a shared band all boats can immediately pick up when another is in trouble and arrangements made for rescue, if necessary, by a bigger boat or the coast guard.

Since the establishment of the radio system over a year ago, no lives have been lost at sea, Ebanks noted, while mentioning that the placing of a buoy to warn approaching boats of rocks, also initiated by BREDS, has been a big help.

Ebanks was also thankful to BREDS for staging in the community a Christmas Tree-lighting ceremony and a fishing tournament which has had a direct impact on the local economy by attracting visitors from outside to compete in fishing, boat races and other competitions.

"I have to big up BREDS in the community," he said.

Norma Moxam, member of the board of directors of BREDS and principal of the beneficiary Sandy Bank Primary School, pointed to the organisation's assistance in a wide range of educational areas, particularly in remedial education.

"BREDS has sponsored a teacher to do remedial teaching using software solutions on computer," she told the Sunday Observer. That approach, she noted, was critical in rescuing many of the otherwise bright students who often just needed a little extra supervision to realise their potential.

For sheer impact, however, Moxam cited the establishment of a computer lab with 12 computers at the school. The lab provides computer training and services to students, teachers and community members. "This has greatly assisted the community to become computer-savvy, while opening up the world to both children and adult citizens by accessing the Internet."

Other educational initiatives sponsored by BREDS include the expansion of a computer donation programme to four local schools; donation of a photocopier to the Sandy Bank Primary and repairs to the school's roof; the building of two classrooms, a canteen, library and bathrooms at God's School, in conjunction with help from the Rotary Club of Zionsville, Indiana.

Henzell's group was particularly satisfied with what is perhaps their most impressive project to date -- the construction of 30 houses (45 bedrooms) for the less fortunate in the Treasure Beach community. A joint venture with the Food For the Poor organisation, the houses have mainly gone to single parent mothers and those who lost their homes in disasters.

BREDS also built four bathrooms at Sandy Bank Basic School and provided a partial scholarship to a student of Manchester High School.

Moxam hailed BREDS' contribution to the community, noting that before its birth, "community life was sleeping and the talented youngsters didn't know that they could run and swim and get a prize".

Through collaboration between BREDS and the St Elizabeth Parish Council, Moxam also noted, the important two-storey maximum building code and regulations regarding the preservation of the land and trees necessary to maintain the eco-friendly atmosphere on the south coast were being enforced.

Moxam personally testified of the benefits of BREDS, through a post-graduate scholarship she received to pursue an MBA in Education at the University of Western Carolina's Mandeville campus and in Carolina.

On the environmental front, Sally Henzell, Jason's mother, said that through education and moral suasion, BREDS had been able to reduce abuses such as the dynamiting of fish and trawling, practices which kill the young fish and reduce breeding capacity. Environmentally-friendly fishing techniques are also promoted by BREDS which provides garbage bins and has plans to popularise the separation of waste into plastics and biodegradable elements.

Other environmental projects include the establishment and maintenance of road clean-up programmes; ongoing beach clean-ups; and promotion of environmental responsibility at local hotels and villas.

She pointed proudly to the 1998 British Guild of Travel Writers Merit Award which recognised BREDS as one of the top community development organisations in the world.

In sports, the organisation has given assistance to team sports such as basketball, football and cricket, including a girls' cricket team which went on to win the championship.

With even bigger plans for the future, BREDS was recently registered as a foundation in the United States, making donations from the USA tax-deductible.

Henzell and his group now have their eyes set on building a voluntary ambulance and fire service for the Treasure Beach area. Life is clearly looking up in paradise.

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Story Source: Jamaica Observer

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By Tammie Dunphy ( - on Saturday, November 27, 2004 - 2:09 am: Edit Post

To whom it may concern:
I was concerned about how the Treasure Beach community was affected by the recent surge of hurricane activity in the Carribean. I have just completed my courses at school and come up for air. Is this the proper site for me to learn about the latest dilemmas and developments in Treasure Beach? How can I contribute to the community efforts and global spirit of volunteerism that has formed on behalf of this community? My father (Dave) was a PCV in Treasure Beach for a brief period in 1999. He was quite taken with the community spirit that existed in this little corner of the world. It is my wish to find a way that I, too, can participate in helping to build a better life for the local people.

Very truly yours, Tammie Dunphy

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