Building Abroad: Local Teen’s Passion Impacts Young Minds in Jamaica

Rafe Cochran and his parents, Diahann and Jay Cochran, stand in front of the new Runaway Bay All-Age School he built through Food For The Poor in St. Ann, Jamaica. Rafe dedicated the school to his parents and grandparents, Susan P. Cochran and Mr. and Mrs. Romero, during the inauguration ceremony on Aug. 31, 2018. This is the second school the teen has built in Jamaica, thanks to the Annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic fundraiser.
(Photo/Food For The Poor)

Thirteen-year-old Rafe Cochran of Palm Beach, Fla., returned to school this week as an eighth-grader at Palm Beach Day Academy after opening his second school built in Jamaica through Food For The Poor.

The new Runaway Bay All-Age School in St. Ann has six classrooms, an office for staff, and bathrooms with sanitation to provide more than 400 students a secure building as they returned to school this week. Dozens of parents, teachers, students, and community leaders gathered to meet and thank the young man who made their dream of a new school building a reality during the Aug. 31 ceremony.

“To give the gift of a second school in Jamaica is an honor and truly feels rewarding,” Rafe said. “The gift of education is so important to me because I feel education empowers one’s life. I also feel proud to have the doors of the Runaway Bay All-Age School of Determination open. It is a wonderful feeling knowing I have been a part of enriching other children’s lives.”

Runaway Bay was made possible by the Third Annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic. Dozens of local golfers teed up for the charity tournament in April at the Mayacoo Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach. Rafe began golfing at the age of 6, at age 9 he became one of Food For The Poor’s youngest donors, and at age 11 he hosted his first golf tournament using his talents to raise money to build homes in Haiti and schools in Jamaica.

“How many people can say that they have built 10 homes and two schools in two different countries by time they were 13 years old?” Food For The Poor President/CEO Robin Mahfood said. “Rafe’s philanthropic efforts are astounding and Food For The Poor is deeply appreciative of his generosity. Ten Haitian families now have safe and secure homes, and schoolchildren for generations to come will benefit from the two schools in Jamaica. We also want to salute Rafe’s parents for instilling these priceless values in their young son and for their support.”

The school’s principal, Lambert Pearson, and staff also expressed tremendous gratitude to Rafe, his parents and to Food For The Poor for coming to their aid after they had waited more than a decade for a new school, which will accommodate kindergarten to sixth grade. Pearson opened up his speech at the inauguration by singing.

“Thank you, thank you for all you have done… today my wait is over,” Pearson sang.

While in Jamaica, Rafe and his parents, Jay and Diahann Cochran, visited the first school. The family was happy to see Chester Primary and Infant School, also located in St. Ann, is well- maintained, the students are excelling, and that the school population has grown. The Cochrans helped to paint the exterior walls of Runaway Bay a cheery yellow, along with a calming blue and a bold red.

“Rafe has impressed his whole family and shown us all the deep compassion he has for others,” Jay Cochran said. “We believe that Rafe’s ability to look beyond himself and to help the less fortunate will undoubtedly influence the younger generations. Rafe is a remarkable young man –we can’t wait to see what he will accomplish in the future and the people he will touch with his generosity and compassion.”

In addition to donating hundreds of backpacks and school supplies for staff and students, the Cochrans wanted the new school to have a system in place to capture rainwater.

Rafe also did something that he hopes will motivate current and future students of Runaway Bay All-Age School.

“I gave each classroom in the new school a special name that really represents traits that one should aspire to have,” Rafe said. “I chose the Room of Motivation, the Room of Integrity, the Room of Compassion, the Room of Kindness, the Room of Endurance, the Room of Confidence, and the Room of Respect. I feel each word gives a person character and to have good character means you have traits that make you honest and admirable.”

As Rafe embraces the start of the new school year, he’s already entertaining the thought of future projects and the possibility of another school.

“I will continue helping one person, one family, and one school at a time in order to make a difference,” said Rafe. “I always say, you’re never too young to take action and make a difference!”

To learn more about Rafe’s Food For The Poor projects visit: www.FoodForThePoor.org/rafe

In addition to raising the funds to build his second school through Food For The Poor, Rafe Cochran, 13, also distributed backpacks and school supplies to students at the inauguration ceremony of Runaway Bay All-Age School in St. Ann, Jamaica, on Aug. 31, as his father Jay Cochran looked on. (Photo/Food For The Poor)
Dozens of parents, teachers, students and community leaders attended the Aug. 31, inauguration ceremony of the new Runaway Bay All-Age School in St. Ann, Jamaica. The six-classroom school was built by Rafe Cochran, 13, of Palm Beach, Fla., through Food For The Poor in Jamaica. This is the second school the teen has built in Jamaica, thanks to the Annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic fundraiser. (Photo/Food For The Poor)
In addition to raising funds to build his second school through Food For The Poor, Rafe Cochran,13, also distributed back packs and school supplies to students at the inauguration ceremony of Runaway Bay All-Age School in St. Ann, Jamaica, on Aug. 31.
(Photo/Food For The Poor)
While in Jamaica for the inauguration of Runaway Bay All-Age School, Rafe Cochran and his parents visited Chester Primary and Infant School, which is the first school Rafe built through Food For The Poor in St. Ann. Rafe took time to read to the younger students who are reportedly excelling as the student population continues to grow. (Photo/Food For The Poor)
Before the Aug. 31, inauguration ceremony of the new Runaway Bay All-Age School in St. Ann, Jamaica, which Rafe Cochran built through Food For The Poor, his mother Diahann Cochran helped paint the foundation of the school a bold shade of red. This is the second school the teen has built in Jamaica, thanks to the Annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic fundraiser. (Photo/Food For The Poor)

Food For The Poor Rushes Emergency Supplies to Caribbean Islands Destroyed by Hurricane Irma

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Sept. 13, 2017) – Food For The Poor is rushing emergency relief to Barbuda, St. Maarten, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other areas in the Caribbean to meet the dire needs of those who survived Hurricane Irma, which slammed the islands as a Category 5 storm with 185 mph winds last week.

The first shipment of lifesaving aid was sent from Caritas Antilles Chancery Offices, the charity’s trusted partner in St. Lucia, and arrived in the Dutch territory of St. Maarten on Monday.

Two other longtime Food For the Poor partners, Matthew 25: Ministries and Feed My Starving Children, are assisting us in this endeavor.

Critical items supplied included beans, MannaPack fortified rice meals, blankets, rubber boots, personal hygiene items and agricultural tools.

“At times like this, it is important to reach out to our brothers and sisters with whatever we can supply, and let them know that someone cares for them,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “The poor do not have the means to take care of themselves after a storm, and it can be devastating. Our generous donors are working with us to meet their most basic needs. This is a life or death situation.”

CNN reported on Wednesday that at least 44 people died when Irma battered the Caribbean last week, destroying homes and leaving thousands of people homeless. And what little food or water that was left is running out, leaving residents vulnerable.

On Barbuda, most homes and businesses were destroyed, according to the Prime Minister’s office. On St. Maarten, which is split between Dutch and French Territory, an official said up to 90 percent of the island had been destroyed. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, many who had not evacuated before Irma were huddled together in buildings that had no roofs. With roads impassable, they had to walk for miles to pick up food and water dropped off by U.S. military helicopters.

Haiti appeared to escape the brunt of Irma, whose outer bands raked its northern coastline. The storm dumped several inches of rain, which can cripple deforested areas of this island nation that are prone to devastating mudslides capable of wiping out entire neighborhoods.

Because communications are extremely difficult in the string of Caribbean islands after Irma’s wrath, it wasn’t immediately clear how many people simply weren’t able to contact others to let them know if they survived.

The most critical items needed are food, water, shelter, and medicines, said Marcia Haywood, regional coordinator for Caritas Antilles Chancery Offices in St. Lucia.

“It’s all of us working together to help those who really need it,” Haywood said.  “It’s a privilege and an honor to be able to do that.”

To support Hurricane Irma relief efforts, cash donations are best. Checks can be mailed to Food For The Poor at 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, FL 33073. Please make checks payable to Food For The Poor and include the source code SC#104162 to accurately route your donation to the relief effort.

Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

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