(Jamaica Star) – Keisha Hayle, principal of Padmore Primary School in rural St Andrew, cannot help but think about how difficult it may be for students who are now home without food due to the forced closure of schools brought on by the new conoravirus (COVID-19).
Hayle, a respected educator, said that many students depend on meals at schools which are provided through the PATH programme. As she looked back at her youthful days, the principal said that she, too, was in their shoes.
“God let me grew up very humble. My mother had five of us, and my father was missing,” she said. “I use to stand up under fruit trees and wait for it to drop. I ate green apples. I know what it is to be hungry, so I always pledge to God that if he blessed me, my life would be a blessing,” she said.
Hayle, who unsuccessfully contested the North West St Andrew parliamentary seat for the People’s National Party in a by-election against Dr Nigel Clarke two years ago, is now using her abundant blessings to feed children who are out of school because of COVID-10. She has started a mobile lunch programme, which sees her delivering meals to children in the community of Padmore on weekdays.
“Some parents never budget for this so its kinda hard; and they have to be hustling too, so they don’t have time to cook for the children. Most of the children are on PATH, so they would come to school and get a meal, even if they don’t have money,” she said.
Hayle told THE WEEKEND STAR that she sacrificed her personal funds to buy supplies for lunches, and along with a team of four persons, she manages to make and distribute 300 lunches per day in the communities of Sterling Castle, Red Hills, Belevdere, and Blackwood Terrace.
“I want to keep them getting their meals, so we drive around to the communities where children are and make sure they get at least one meal for the day,” she said.
“I’m thinking I don’t want any malnourished children when school reopens, because that’s not good … . If I have one dime in my bank account and a child is hungry, I’m gonna use it to feed him or her,” Hayle told THE WEEKEND STAR.
She revealed that the parents are grateful for the help, and she is urging leaders in other institutions to give back in this time our time of crisis.
“I’m appealing to the churches, especially, to open their doors and start something. No great leader should not be in quarantine – now is the time to do God’s service to mankind,” she said.
Schools have been closed for 14 days, effective Friday, March 13, in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus is the island. The Government will review the situation on Monday and decide whether schools will reopen on Monday, March 30.