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The Trench Town Christian school making a real impact

FULFILLED: School children on a street in Trench Town, Kingston

THERE ARE some people in this world who make sacrifices for the benefit of the greater good - Robert Dixon is a prime example of this.

The former bank employee gave up his job to serve as the Principal of Operation Restoration Christian School (ORCS) which is based in the heart of Trench Town, Kingston, one of the poorest and crime-ridden areas in Jamaica’s capital.

He was in the UK recently to talk about the school’s work and to raise much-needed funds for its work which includes running a day school for more than 100 pupils aged 12-17, an after-school club, a feeding programme, a summer school and its education programme.

The school relies on staff and volunteers to deliver its programmes and often welcomes visits and support from overseas organisations, such as the Ascension Trust, led by Reverend Les Isaac and urban youth charity XLP.

Dixon, a married father-of-one, also serves as a church elder, taking over from Lorna Stanley who started the school in 1994 at the age of 51 following a call of God.

Stanley left her home in Florida and moved to Jamaica to set-up the school. She retired from running the school in 2014.


DEDICATION: Robert Dixon, principal of Trench Town’s ORCS

Dixon explained:

“When she started the school, gang crime was at a high, the drug trade was at its peak and the stories that you heard weren’t stories of hope, so she went to Jamaica and started ORCS in Trench Town.

"It started off as an after-school and evolved into a school that takes children who fall out of the regular education system due to lack of literacy and numeracy skills. The school works with pupils, their families and the community to get those children back into school or some other education programme.”

Some would say that Dixon was God’s gift to the school. When Stanley was looking and praying for a successor, she wanted someone who had experience of working in Trench Town, coupled with finance experience, of which Dixon had both.

Many of the children that attend ORCS come from disadvantaged backgrounds. They often live in one-parent homes, characterised by poverty. Some of the children have been exposed to violence and even lost a parent through violence, whilst others have witnessed abuse – or even been abused themselves.

An experienced community worker, Dixon finds the work at the school challenging but fulfilling.

“Every day is a challenge, but every day is a blessing,” he explained.

INSPIRATIONAL

“Working in an under-resourced community in an area that suffers with violence can be trying. There are many challenges dealing with the children and with the community, but the success stories are worth it.”

Considering the backgrounds of many of the pupils at ORCS, Dixon revels in the school’s success stories. He said:

“When I came to the school in 2014, there was a young girl who didn’t talk to anybody. We started to discover things about her life, and she revealed that there was sexual abuse in her life. The more we talked to the girl the more we found out. We went to the police about it.”

Despite the young girl’s experience, she felt very comfortable in Dixon's presence and one day he told her that he would never be violent or abusive towards her. Those words proved to be inspirational. He said:

“From that day, you could see the change in her life. One thing that you could see was that she started to write and the teachers came to me and would say that she’s learning more quickly.

“What topped it for me, was when I went to pick her and the other children up from a camp. My mother was there, and she said to her, ‘Mr. Dixon has come for you,’ and the young girl said, ‘He’s not Mr. Dixon, he’s my father’."

The educator is keen for ORCS to continue to have good stories in the future and to share how it is impacting pupils’ lives.

ORCS is open to receive support, so if you feel you can help, please do. For more information, click here.

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