What started fourteen years ago as a simple gesture of sharing three pencils with a group of passing children has now turned into an annual back-to-school drive serving over 975 West Demerara students.
Founder of the programme and Director of the Gordon Foundation, Pamela Gordon, is now looking to expand her humanitarian efforts by adding a meal programme so that the West Demerara children do not have to feel hungry during their days of learning at school.
The retired remigrant spoke with the Sunday Stabroek about a recent event that saw nearly 1000 students receiving back-to-school packages, which included tablets and stationery.
The mother of six boys, who migrated to the United States over thirty years ago, has always been fond of children and it was her caregiving instincts that birthed the not-for-profit foundation she now runs. “Fourteen years ago my mom had come back to Guyana and was sitting on the verandah, at home at Plantain Walk, Vreed-en-Hoop, when three children were passing and she waved to them. A conversation started and she only had three pencils and told them she would give them one each, but if they showed her what they wrote with the pencils she would buy others for them. It was just a casual chat with the kids,” her son, Jim Gordon, related to this newspaper
“When the kids passed back the next day, the pencils were so short that my mom thought they had sharpened them down to say they had done a lot of work. Instead, they explained to her that their mom had 10 children and she took the three pencils and cut them so that each person could get a piece. That touched my mom in a way I cannot explain. She promised them that when she returned the next year, she would not forget them and would bring school things for all of them. It started with the giving to about 25 children that next year and every year after, the numbers grew and grew,” he added. For Pamela Gordon, the past 14 years of giving has never been publicised because she believes that humanitarian gestures should not be used for publicity. It is why she did not say much in the interview and her son chose to speak about the work and plans for the foundation. “Today, it doesn’t matter what you give a child… it is an education that matters; because you are preparing them for the future and they will always have that. It is an investment every person should make in a child,” is all she would say.
Her son Jim plays an integral part in the foundation’s work and says that his mother has brought in all of her other children, Neville, Winston and Terrence, to give to the organisation as she feels that giving back is a key part of life. The female Gordon has over the years funded the project out of pocket but other persons overseas, who took note of her compassion and goodwill, joined in and she believes it is the main reason the programme has expanded the way it has.
Earlier this month, the Gordon Foundation hosted over 975 students to a party and back-to-school event. They were treated to school supplies and 75 of them were given computer tablets. It is not all work and school- oriented as the children were also given toys; albeit most educational ones.
The children came from schools from villages across the West Bank of Demerara; Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary, Crane Congregation, Malgre Tout Primary, Goed Fortuin Primary and Secondary, West Demerara Secondary and Academy of Excellence among others. Local persons assisted by going to the schools to identify the top performers and it was those children who were rewarded with the tablets. She hopes that the technological device would serve as a motivator to other students and has promised that if they make over a certain grade, they too would be recipients this year. With plans for expansion to include a school sponsorship and meal programme, Gordon said that since she is now based in Guyana, after remigrating, she will personally help with the cooking. She believes that the numbers this year would increase significantly because the lack of meals most times serves as a hindrance to school attendance. She believes that her faith in God, would see the plan through and enable the foundation to provide for the children in a way they deserve.
As it pertains to the sponsorship programme, Gordon hopes that the foundation will also have enough to fully sponsor children who are at a certain grade point average at school but whose caregivers cannot afford the costs associated with daily schooling. “Going forward, we would like to continue the school supply drive every six months. We hope to also donate computers to schools on this side. I spoke about the sponsorship programme and that and the meal programme would take off soon, by the grace of God. We are here, pretty much in the middle of all the schools on this side so I think that is a sign. It will be easy access for the children and hopefully we can contribute to making their lives much better,” Jim Gordon said.
“We would like to thank all the people who have supported us…please let them know they are appreciated and thanks to the children who believes in us. God has made it possible, my mom is a firm believer and she knows that God will see her through,” he added.