Tucked away in the hills of St Ann, Jamaica, Walkerswood is a quiet country village, rich in culture and strong in spirit. We, the Rutty family, encourage everyone to lend helping hands to enrich their own communities.
To provide the necessary resources and provisions for the youth to help them succeed and to capture the hearts and helping hands of the right organizations and sponsors who will donate to help our cause.
To see that every youth is not hindered by lack of resources or disparity in which to succeed.
Located 8 miles outside of Ocho Rios’ north coast, this once river bed is now full of narrow winding roads curving through this lush tropical paradise. Families in Walkerswood can trace their ancestors for generations and grandparents who once were schoolmates are now watching their children grow up to play and marry the children of their classmates. As poverty and illiteracy increase, opportunities and morals decrease and it’s becoming more and more difficult to maintain a once thriving community.
Our family were once citizens of Walkerswood and is very disheartened to find such poverty and lack of educational resources to uplift the youth. The community center which used to be the hub for civic and social events is now closed down. The once profitable community cooperative which houses an arts and crafts and farmers market, a wood working shop and a restaurant are also closed and need massive repair. In the past, members of our family have been working diligently to create awareness to their restoration project as they fund raise to restore this beautiful garden paradise. Many families who grew up in Walkerswood can remember the great efforts of their parents partnering to fund raise to build this same Community Center. A proposal has been submitted to community leaders and Walkerswood Community Foods to join strengths to revive this progressive town.
By the summer of 2005, their youngest child Simone organized a musical fundraiser alongside headlining Reggae artists like Half Pint and others. Due to sabotage and lack of support from the South Florida community there were very little donations collected. By Spring of 2006, The Rutty Family also owners of Trans Caribe Express Shippers, Inc. in New Jersey were able to collect enough donations from families and friends. This enabled them to send a twenty foot container of school and office supplies to the Walkerswood All-Age School and the Monegue Teacher’s college. Cheryl, another daughter managed to gather many books from schools in Princeton, New Jersey which helped to fill the walls of the drab library at the Walkerswood Schools. These donations were greatly appreciated but the problems of overcrowding and dilapidated classrooms still exist.
By using a multimedia campaign to create awareness, The Rutty Family is hoping to capture the hearts and helping hands of the right organizations and sponsors who will donate supplies to help this and other communities. The children are bright and interested in learning, however, budget and resources run low to generate ongoing progress. By calling all families and friends at home and abroad, they begin a Jamaica Link-Up, beginning with the citizens of Walkerswood. They are hoping to urge former citizens to take a bold initiative and adopt an underprivileged youth to help supply healthy meals and alleviate school expenses.
The initiative that launched Walkerswood Caribbean Foods is rooted in the rich history of community action, which has characterised Walkerswood village from the 1930’s. Following the nationwide riots of 1938 for better working conditions, a partnership emerged between Alton Henry, Peter Hinds and other village farm workers, Thom and Rita Girvan, engaged in the government’s Social Welfare programme and Minnie and Fiona Simson of the Bromley Great House. Together they formed the ‘Pioneer Club’ in 1940 on 3 acres of land. Out of this grew the Lucky Hill Co-operative Farm, the first registered co-operative farm in Jamaica. This partnership was formed at regular prayer meetings in the community.
In 1999 Professor Norman Girvan, Thom’s son, in his speech at the company’s 21st anniversary celebrations recalled the critical role of religious faith in bridging the gap between the materially privileged and the materially less privileged in Walkerswood. In the 1970’s community councils were formed island wide including the Walkerswood Community Council. It set itself four major objectives: (1) The building of a community centre (2) The provision of drinking water for everyone (3) Improving the Basic school (4) providing employment. An ’employment committee’ was formed which worked towards the formation of Walkerswood Caribbean Food Limited (then Cottage Industries) and other village enterprises.
The company was incorporated in 1978 and reached sales of J$31,000 in its first year. In 1983 it decided to bottle its Jerk Seasoning for sale in local shops. This led to many letters from abroad requesting the product and in 1986 the company became the first Jamaican Exporter of Jerk Seasoning . Today annual sales have risen to J$350 million and 80% of its production is exported. Over 150 people are employed and the company has undertaken to provide quality Caribbean food to all five continents.
The Rutty Family is hoping to promote this type of unity and oneness in the community again and is urging all friends of humanity to invest in our future generations.
Information on how to make a tax-deductible contribution can be found at www.walkerswoodyouthfoundation.org.
For more information, e-mail Mrs. Cheryl Rutty-Gomes at firstname.lastname@example.org