Cooking Up Future Plans


Did you know? 

About ONE THIRD of Jamaica's youth are “unattached.” This means that they’re not in school, not in a training course, or they are unemployed.

Too many of our youth  grow up with limited access to a quality education due to poverty. Young boys are often pulled away from school by the lure of delinquency. For girls, who are more likely to finish school, they are twice less likely to be employed than males. The lack of a solid education coupled with life challenges related to poverty often times means youth grow up ill-equipped to pursue their dreams. But…
Here’s one young adult who managed to rise above his circumstances.

Leroy’s Life

As a teen, Leroy was in a hard place in life. He grew up away from his dad, but enjoyed a close bond with his mother. Even though she taught him to value hard work and and to stick to his morals, he still had a rocky time in high school. Like any teenager, he was exposed to many different influences which distracted him from what he should have been focusing on. He got poor grades and did not live up to his mom’s high hopes for his life. Stuck in a phase of immaturity, he knew he was disappointing others as well as himself.


Passion . . . Is It Enough?

In time, Leroy knew he needed to make a change, and he began to look beyond the negative influences in his community and to dream of a bright future for his life.

But what would his future look like exactly? He wasn’t quite sure.

After completing high school, he soon discovered that he had a real love for cooking. So he decided to make a career out of it. Unfortunately, this passion was not enough to propel him into a career in the culinary arts. His dreams for the future were mostly loose ideas which floated around in his mind at that time. He did not know how to take the next steps towards his dreams.

Leroy was stuck with a head full of dreams but no actual plan to make them come true.


Time to Wake Up

Then, a couple of years ago, things began to take shape. One of Leroy’s friends told him about Jalawelo’s Young Adults Circle (YAC) which was taking place in Mountain View. He quickly found himself enjoying the program and the real love and acceptance it offered. He received wisdom from discussions with YAC leaders and felt understood by other young adults  present. He clearly remembers a specific YAC meetup where he was asked "What do YOU want to do?".

“That was like an awakening,” he said.

While he had dreams of becoming a chef, he wasn’t quite sure how to get there. But YAC pushed him to decide on what exactly his goals were and how he wished to get there. He figured this out by completing Jalawelo’s Individualized Education and Development Plan (IEDP). Once he was clear about how exactly he could to reach his dreams, Jalawelo walked with him towards making them a reality. Apart from contributing to his clarity of mind, YAC also gave him the chance to positively affect the lives of others in the YAC group. Leroy’s positive outlook inspired some other YAC members on their own personal journeys. Likewise, he was impacted by his peers as he was encouraged and held accountable by other “YAC-ites” on his journey towards his dreams.


Where Is He Now?


Now life for Leroy has changed. Through his engagement in the YAC program, he was connected to a highly rated Jamaican hotel where he is now working as a commis chef. He is excited about this opportunity and is enjoying a more fulfilling life, with even more hope to move further ahead in this field. His supervisor has nothing but praise for him and his coworkers love his work ethic and positive vibes. Making tasty local and international dishes, he fallen even more in love with cooking. Today, he still lives by the lessons he learned from YAC. Now, after successfully taking his next step, he is being encouraged to re-evaluate his IEDP to plan for an even brighter future. Eventually, he hopes to work as a sous chef and maybe, one day in the future, even have his own restaurant.

At last, his dreams are being made into reality.


More to Come

But think  . . . There are so many more ‘Leroys’ who need an opportunity to pursue their dreams!

How many more young adults in Jamaica are living with a passion . . .  but with no way to make the dream come true? Imagine the thousands of artists, business people and politicians who we may never know of, because they never got a chance.

Each life can change.

We want to give disciplined Jamaican young adults a hand so they can take their next practical step from wherever they are in life.  Why not get involved? You might be the difference maker in the life of some young adult who needs a hand up towards their next step... And who needs to give expression to a burning passion.

YOU can help to make even more dreams a reality!!

Donate to our YAC program!

Or volunteer as a mentor to a young adult!

"We focus on developing faithfulness, discipline, and a willingness to work hard. We believe that our youth are talented and need practical help to meet their goals. We also believe that they must be accountable in terms of their own contribution to their personal development."

- Jalawelo