Jamaica Gleaner / After some four months of being deprived of their usual learning environment, resulting from a fire which demolished more than half of the compound, students at the Arcadia Primary and Infant School in St Thomas can now sit and learn comfortably.
The infant department of the institution, which was allegedly set on fire by a man of unsound mind in June of this year, was recently rebuilt by Food for the Poor.
Chairman of the school board, Kevin Archat, told Rural Xpress that the infant department of the school was originally built and opened by the charitable organisation in October 2016.
“We lost a new fridge, stove, kiddies desks and chairs, a printer and computers, filing cabinets, playground equipment and a water pump,” the chairman lamented at the time of the fire, adding that the fire department estimated damage to the building at $30 million.
Prior to the fire, the infant department had its own facilities, including bathrooms, kitchen and several classrooms, all of which were fenced off from the main school plant. However, ever since it was demolished, the infants were displaced.They were relocated to the neighbouring primary school, where they utilised the library and the resource centre.
“The students pretty much were housed in another room without all the amenities. So it was very uncomfortable for them and the teachers,” recounted Archat. “They (the children) all had to use the same bathroom amenities as the primary-school students which are not their size, so they had to be climbing to reach the pipes and so on,” he added.
Food for the Poor had later contributed desks and chairs for the 27 students who were affected.
Last month, they again stepped in and rebuilt the building. “We got back three classrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen and an office,” reported Archat. “They built it from the ground up all over again. They pretty much built one school twice.”
The school board chairman expressed gratitude to Food for the Poor for its continuous support, and he is appealing to the wider community for help in replacing the equipment, including printers and computers.