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Special delivery

John Simmons | Oct 18, 2018

A Kiwanis volunteer paints a wall of a hospital's maternity ward.

The Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston features one of the largest maternity wards in the Caribbean, delivering nearly one out of every five babies born in Jamaica. Over the years, however, the ward fell into disrepair. With faded colors on its walls and the need for a near-complete renovation of its bathroom, the ward offered a very inauspicious –and sometimes depressing – place to bring the littlest Jamaicans into the world.

And so in July 2017, Victoria Jubilee reached out to the Kiwanis Club of Eastern St. Andrew for help. Members immediately began the enormous task of developing and carrying out plans for renovating the hospital’s 3 West Ward, bringing on the Kiwanis Club of Liguanea-St. Andrew for help with organizing, financing and implementing the plan. BH Paints provided wall coverings, while the Community & Workers of Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union completed the financing.

Kiwanis and Key Club members from throughout Jamaica helped with painting and restoration on the main project day.

“We had great teamwork,” says Kesha Brown, president of the Eastern St. Andrew club, “with over 62 Kiwanians, Service Leadership Program members, volunteers and hospital staff on hand to help with the restoration. Our members also reached out to their networks, our friends and family for lunch that day and for additional funds to support the project.”

Under the guidance of the hospital’s maintenance staff, volunteers transformed the 3 West Ward’s walls, dramatically changing the drab appearance by using brightly-colored paints named Yellow Tail, Sunshine, Regata, Bridesmaid Pink, Baby Pink and Morant Blue. Restoring the ward’s bathroom, however, was another matter.

“The old, large, rustic water heater needed to be removed,” says Brown. “We also replaced tiles, repaired or replaced face basins, replaced shower heads and tiles in the shower stalls and painted the roof of the bathroom."

While the restoration culminated in several days of hectic but rewarding activities, the project itself – from the beginning of planning to the day the last tile was in place – took one year.

“It was truly a proud moment for us when we were able to officially hand over the ward to the hospital on July 31, 2018, and completed the official staff walk-through on Monday, August 13,” says Brown.

The response was immediate and moving.

“The hospital was very pleased with our work, with the Ward Sister telling us that the renovation will greatly uplift the spirits of the women who come there and the staff who work there,” Brown says. “Our members were also very happy and became very emotional when they remembered what the ward looked like before we began and how it was transformed into a beautiful place where a mother can give birth to her baby in a warm, welcoming environment.”  

Such emotion and commitment to service isn’t unusual, Brown adds, but it always inspires her.

“I am continually amazed by the love and passion of my fellow Kiwanians and how we selflessly commit to changing the world one child and one community at a time. On behalf of the many mothers and babies who will benefit by the work done on the ward, we wholeheartedly thank our sponsors and our many volunteers for their commitment to this project.”

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