By RON FANFAIR
Seeing a Vincentian friend send school supplies back to her Caribbean homeland to assist the less fortunate planted a seed in Melissa Enmore’s mind three years ago.
The Toronto resident ran her idea by close ally and Queen’s College classmate Michelle Kandasammy who lives in Trinidad & Tobago.
“Why couldn’t we do the same for our alma mater and other Guyanese and Trinidad schools?” said Enmore.
The Backpack Project emerged with the friends raising money, through registered non-profit organizations in Toronto and the twin-island republic, to send stationary and other supplies back to Guyana and other Caribbean islands.
The total cost of a backpack and its contents is approximately $50.
“In this day and age, education is a fundamental privilege to which every child should be entitled,” said Enmore who migrated to Canada in 1997 and completed her high school education at Downsview Secondary School before successfully pursuing a Psychology degree at the University of Toronto. “Unfortunately, this is not the case in the Caribbean and other parts of the world where the prevalence of poverty hinders many children from receiving a basic formal education.”
In 2009, Enmore sent five backpacks filled with stationary and personal supplies, including underwear, socks, body lotions and deodorants, to Guyana.
“Our focus is not just on education, but on health so the young people could develop good personal hygiene,” said Enmore who is a research coordinator at Women’s College Institute Familial Breast Cancer Unit and a volunteer group facilitator at Dr. Roz’s Healing Place.
Last year, Enmore and Kandasammy, a banking executive, distributed 58 backpacks in Guyana and T & T.
“They were well received,” said Enmore. “In fact, one Guyanese parent wrote us to say she was so happy that her daughter received a scientific calculator just before her exams because she could not afford to replace the one her child had which was broken….It’s stories like this one that drive us to do what we are doing to help others.”
Through generous donations mostly from the Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church congregation, Enmore – who is a member of the church – will send nearly 200 backpacks to Jamaica this year. A total of 50 each will also be distributed in Guyana and T & T.
Individuals interested in learning more about the project can go to www.backpackproject.ca or contact Enmore at (647) 207-6355 or email@example.com.