Jamaica’s Annual BEST Community Competition

‘Don’t Write Off Any Community’ says Earl Jarrett

Earl Jarrett, General Manager of Jamaica National Building Society has pointed to the changed perceptions of the communities of Sherwood Content and Waterhouse, from which Olympic champions Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce originate.

Such communities represent the foundation of the society, he told participants and guests at the National BEST Community Competition awards ceremony held at the Stella Maris Pastoral Centre in St Andrew on August 23. The Treasure Beach community won the competition, with Mount Peto coming second and Runaway Bay coming third.

“Jamaican communities can tackle challenges they face if there is proper organisation and a common goal which everyone can work towards,” he said. The National BEST Community Programme (NBCP) establishes partnerships between communities and persons with technical, professional, spiritual, educational and financial resources to provide them with assistance, he stated.

“There is a vast opportunity for change which can be effected if this programme is adopted and implemented across the island,” Mr. Jarrett said. He was addressing the parish winners of the competition, including: Irish Town, St Andrew; Port Morant, St Thomas; Balcarres, Portland; Jeffrey Town, St Mary; Hampton, Runaway Bay, St Ann; Albert Town, Trelawny; Flanker, St James; Mount Peto, Hanover; Petersville, Westmoreland; Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth; Grove Place, Manchester; Canaan Heights, Clarendon; and Bushy Park, St Catherine.

“This is truly a great programme,” said, Paul Burke, Chairman of the Social Development Commission, adding that, “we intend to truly empower community organisations in Jamaica.”

Jacqueline daCosta, Chairman of the NBCP, pointing to the long history of community development in Jamaica, said that, “if communities are not involved in the development of this country… we are not going to get anywhere.”

“If you look at the various things needed to build a better community, you will see that sometimes you don’t need money, you just need courage,” Mrs. daCosta told the community representatives. At the same time, she called for greater support for the programme from both government and the private sector.

Mrs. Marigold Harding, Custos of St. Andrew, speaking on behalf of NBCP Patron, His Excellency Sir Patrick Allen, said, “there is a critical need to involve citizens in the social economic physical and environmental transformation of the society.”

The dividends of community development are more sustainable, “when beneficiaries are actively involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of community projects,” the Custos said. She applauded the NBCP for the participatory approach to human development which it had adopted.