CRS in Jamaica
Because of its location in the Caribbean, Jamaica is particularly vulnerable to the effects of devastating tropical storms and hurricanes. Over the years, CRS has provided disaster relief and helped farmers who have lost their crops. CRS primarily focuses on strengthening the ability of our partners to better prepare for and respond to hurricanes and other emergencies through a series of trainings that help mitigate the negative effects of natural disasters.
At present, CRS operates a small Caribbean Outreach office based in Jamaica in partnership with the Archdiocese of Kingston and Mustard Seed Communities. With this more structured presence, CRS continues to prioritize its work in disaster risk reduction and emergency response in Jamaica.
The Youth Emergency Action Committee (YEAC) Project started in Jamaica post hurricane Dean in 2009. It is aimed at strengthening the capacity of vulnerable urban communities to prepare and respond to disasters by equipping their youth with the requisite knowledge and skill sets to do the same. The YEAC model approaches disaster risk reduction from the community or “grassroots” level, incorporating the people most affected by disasters in formulating strategies and solutions to increase their own resilience.
Since 2011, the Catholic Church in Kingston, through its Justice and Peace Commission, has partnered with CRS to formulate and implement the Harmony in Rhythm project. This initiative aims to strengthen the capacity of the Archdiocese of Kingston to promote peacebuilding and restorative justice practices through two channels – the school and church.
The project involves the promotion of peacebuilding in schools by equipping teachers with skills in mediation and restorative justice, implementation of peacebuilding projects at the school level and mentorship. At the church level, trained peacemakers and facilitators have been integrating the ministry of peacemaking in churches and organizing for outreach.
CRS' History in Jamaica
Since 2005, Catholic Relief Services has supported projects in all three dioceses in Jamaica with diocesan and other Church partners in youth programming, peacebuilding, and emergency preparedness and response. In 2009, CRS won an Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance Disaster Risk Reduction grant for working with at-risk youth in the capital, Kingston, with our partner St. Patrick's Foundation. This project was a resounding success and received an excellence award from OFDA in Disaster Risk Reduction programming.
CRS supported the Catholic Church in Jamaica in the effort to develop a national HIV strategy and provide education and voluntary counseling and testing services. CRS supported the Mustard Seed Communities’ effort to provide care and support to children living with HIV who have been abandoned by their families and communities.
Jamaica has long been a tourist destination, but has been beset by violence and economic instability in recent years. CRS worked in partnership with the Catholic Church in Montego Bay and Kingston to stop the cycle of violence and provide youth with alternatives. CRS has also worked in Jamaica to improve the education of children.