Operation Save a Youth (OSAY) 2019, Manchester was not only about saving young people through service but also empowerment through educational grants. Twenty (20) young people received grants of $50,000.00 each during the closing ceremony of OSAY 2019.
OSAY is a youth empowerment ministry of the Central Jamaica Conference (CJC) of Seventh-day Adventists. Each year, since 2015, over 4,000 young people of the church are recruited and organized in groups to carry out community services projects in one of the three parishes of CJC. OSAY took a break in 2018 but resumed in 2019 in the parish where it started—Manchester.
Since 2016, the organizers of OSAY added the educational grants component. According to Pastor Kevan Barnaby, Youth Ministries Director of CJC, “the 20 young people who received grants this year (2019) were invited to write 300 words, expressing why they deserve the help.” “They also had to provide proof that they are attending school,” said Barnaby. “These students attend University, High Schools and Colleges,” Barnaby continued.
Barnaby said that the young people were very grateful for the grant. “Some of them said they would use the funds towards their school fees, books, transportation and much more.”
Pastor Barnaby also expressed gratitude to some sponsors who contributed cash and kind to make OSAY 2019 a success, including the Community Services Department of the Conference who helped to prepare and serve breakfast and lunch to the attendees.
Pastor Levi Johnson, President of CJC, said that if we do not empower our young people through education, “the gangs will pick them up.” He said that over 30% of young boys are out of school through expulsion or other means. Pastor Johnson announced that next year’s OSAY would see up to 1.5 Million dollars’ worth of grants distributed. “CJC is committed to doing whatever it can to save our youths,” said Johnson.
The main feature of OSAY is the community outreach projects that are undertaken throughout the parish of Manchester. From Colleyville to Victoria Town, Comfort Hall, to Newport, and Porus to Spur Tree, the over 4,000 youths, assisted by some tradesmen, started or completed at least 80 projects on the day. These projects were mainly construction, painting, and beautification of homes and communities.
Side view of the refurbished house for Mr. Carl Siddon of Porus, Manchester. During OSAY 2019, at least 80 community outreach projects were done in the parish. | Credits: Contributed
Members of the OSAY team, work to refurbish the home of Mr. Carl Sidon of Porus, Manchester. | Credits: Contributed
One project of note is a one-bedroom house for a family of 5 in Porus, Manchester. Mr. Carl Sidon, a member of the Porus Seventh-day Adventist church, his wife and three children, were living in a dilapidated structure, according to Project Coordinator Orlene Brooks-Smith. Mrs. Brooks-Smith said the structure was refurbished with new materials on the day and Mr. Sidon and his family are now living in a more comfortable structure.
Mr. Siddon said he is very grateful for the help he and his family received. He shared that he is giving thanks because, on his own, he was not able to accomplish what was done for him by OSAY.
Free Health Services
While most of the young people were out doing community services projects in various communities of Manchester, others assisted in the Free Community Health Clinic and Expo at the Cecil Charlton Park, Mandeville.
Three Mobile Units, including the 3 Angels Pharmacy, Braeton SDA Mobile Medical, and Dental and the recently launched Jamaica Union HYPE (Help Young People Engage in Service), partnered with the Health Ministries Department of the CJC and the Manchester Health Department to offer free health services to close to 200 persons on the day.
According to Mrs. Deon Henry, Medical Missions Coordinator of CJC and Administrative Assistant to the Health Ministries Department, “One hundred and ninety (190) patrons accessed the preventive services in the Health Expo, which was further enhanced by a professional Chef demonstration of healthy food options and sampling by the public.”
She also said that, “One hundred and thirteen (113) persons received medical assessments, thirteen (13) children received dental cleaning, over one hundred and twenty (>120) persons were screened for height, weight, percentage body fat & body water, blood sugar and blood pressure and twenty-seven (27) persons were screened for HIV & Syphilis by the Manchester Health Department’s Mobile Unit”, said Mrs. Henry.
Besides the free health services, OSAY 2019 also included a blood drive that took place on the Northern Caribbean University Campus. Several persons (including young people) gave blood amounting to 49 units on the day.
Miss Keishawna Pinnock, Assistant Blood Donor Organizer, who coordinated on behalf of the Blood Bank, said she considered the blood drive a grand success and she was very grateful to Pastor Kevan Barnaby and his team for organizing this effort. She said that the 40 units of blood collected would “have a positive impact on the lives of so many Jamaicans who are in great need.” She also said that she wished to continue the partnership with OSAY.
HEART NTA Assessment
Up to 6:30 pm on the day, when most activities for OSAY 2019 had been closed, there was still a long line of persons to the HEART TRUST NTA booth waiting to be assessed. Based on reports, 187 persons were assessed and certified in areas such as cosmetology, hairdressing, barbering, and much more.