Good Samaritan, Frederick Joseph-Leon, is a woman with a self-appointed mission to help create a level playing field for children who attend school.
With the help of others, Joseph-Leon has started a programme to supply meals, text books, stationery, bags and uniforms to primary school students in need.
Yesterday, she presented several school bags to children of the Marchand Combined School.
The initiative started small, but Joseph-Leon told the Times that four years ago Peter Devaux formalized it by providing a lump sum of money to help more children in need.
This year, the initiative is helping over 200 youngsters at various schools.
“I really want to thank Peter Devaux, Michael Chastanet, Baywalk Mall and Samuel Rosenberg, who really came to the rescue of this programme. We had other people who helped – gave uniforms and a few books – this also helped to make the programme a success,” Joseph-Leon disclosed.
She told the Times that the initiative is aimed at keeping children in school.
Joseph-Leon said it was not about one’s own children, but all children in an attempt to change the education system.
“We need to ensure that kids are educated because education is a key to get out of poverty,” she declared.
Joseph-Leon called on other citizens to start similar initiatives.
“Call a school in your area and tell them you want to help a child – get a few friends together and buy uniforms for one child,” she exhorted.
Joseph-Leon observed that there was need to keep youngsters in school and off the streets.
She asserted that Saint Lucia has a serious problem with poverty.
The Good Samaritan explained that children go to school hungry, while others are kept at home because their parents have nothing to give them.
She revealed that her initiative includes a feeding programme where money is collected and given to a school Principal to provide meals to needy students.
Joseph-Leon’s eyes lit up when she recalled an experience this year in which a student who benefitted from the programme did well at the Common Entrance Examinations and is going to St Mary’s College.
She told the Times that the child’s proud mother was extremely thankful.
“She tells you straight that if it wasn’t for the programme, she is not sure that her child would have been going to the college,” Joseph-Leon said, adding that citizens should see other people’s children as theirs.
Asked how sustainable the initiative is given the growing number of students who need help, she said:
“If everybody chips is, it is no longer Fredericka’s problem.”
Peter St Francis, a representative of Baywalk Shopping Mall, recalls that Joseph-Leon came to the company seeking help from the business sector.
St Francis said that she moved his boss, who decided to support the initiative for the sake of the children.
“It is very important because as you speak with Fredericka and a lot of other people, you find that the emphasis on the kids doing well is very important and even from as little as probably their school shoe or their uniform and to more importantly the tools to help them learn, like text books and stationery – these are the building blocks of our society and it starts with the kids,” he explained.
Persons who are interested in supporting Frederick Joseph-Leon’s initiative can call: 1.758.720.8188