St. Catherine, Jamaica – March 4, 2016: Eighteen families in Portland Cottage, Clarendon, are now proud homeowners, thanks to a donation of approximately J$11.52 million made by Chris Davitt and Craig Ruppert, along with their friends from the United States, and Food For The Poor (FFP).
Davitt and Ruppert, who have set one of their lives' goals as donating annually to Jamaica, travelled to the island on February 12 with a team of 36. The group, assisted by staff members of Food For The Poor Jamaica, built the houses on February 13 and 14.
David Mair, Executive Director of FFP Jamaica, said he was pleased that these two gentlemen, along with their family and friends - who form the mission group 'Davitt/Ruppert Family and Friends' - had created an annual calendar event to journey to Jamaica and construct houses for the homeless.
"It costs approximately J$640,000 to construct one house. With Mr. Davitt, Mr. Ruppert and their family and friends' initiative of constructing 18 houses, this sums up to approximately J$11.52 million. This is a grand donation!" Mair said in a recent interview.
Mair said the entire group epitomizes what it means to be your brother's keeper.
"These Americans are not only keepers for each other, but they are keepers for people living thousands of miles away from them in the island of Jamaica. Perhaps, if there were more individuals like them, more homeless individuals would be reached and our country would have a much better standard of living," Mair added.
Ruppert said he was always eager to come to Jamaica and build houses for families in need.
"We are always happy to come. I have been coming for about 17 years, and we bring our family and friends. They come. They work hard. They learn from the experience and we go back as better people with life in a better perspective," Ruppert said in an interview during the construction of the houses.
Davitt said that he has great compassion for the needy people living in Jamaica. It is for that reason and more, he keeps coming back to assist.
"We come and have a wonderful time with the people, especially the contractors from Food For The Poor. There are beautiful persons in the country and it makes us feel really great and appreciated each time we reached out to help them," Davitt said.
Davitt, Ruppert and their supporters have partnered with FFP Jamaica to construct five schools, more than 165 houses, a home for the elderly, as well as to equip a community with a sustainable fishing village project and to install two water projects since 2001.
Their efforts have improved the health and living conditions of many throughout Jamaica. In 2014, the group built a six-unit building for the students and teachers of Lewis Town Basic School in St. Elizabeth and constructed a house for a resident in the area.
The 18 families who received Portland Cottage houses were grateful.
Odette Sawyers, one of the recipients, said, "I am really thankful this evening. I am so happy, I am overwhelmed. I am so happy for that and so happy to receive this special gift. I am honoured and thankful."
Christine Dennis, 75, another housing recipient said, "I am so grateful that you could give me a house. I needed a new house so much. My house is so beautiful. Thank you for the wonderful gift you have given me."
BREAKING GROUND AT PORTLAND COTTAGE: Team leader, Chris Davitt (second right) along with other volunteers from the United States, preparing material to construct one of the foundations for 18 houses that were built in Portland Cottage, Clarendon during their mission trip on February 13.
18 HOUSES IN 2 DAYS: Volunteers from the United States and members of Food For The Poor Jamaica gather for a group photograph after completing the construction of 18 houses in two days in Portland Cottage, Clarendon.
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