Jane Du Boulay, Founder,
PAWASOL pour Ti Mamai, Saint Lucia
PAWASOL pour Ti Mamai, translated to Umbrella for Little Children, was the brainchild of Jane DuBoulay, a British-born woman who made her home in Saint Lucia decades ago. It began with her meeting a child in need and a donation of $5,000 from Courts (St.Lucia) Ltd as seed money.
For twenty years, with Jane at the helm, PAWASOL assisted numerous families in meeting school costs, medical, housing and other basic needs. She and her friends who called themselves the ‘A.W.F.U.L’s (Association of Walking Females Usually Lunching) raised monies through flea markets, lunch functions, quizzes, Oscar parties, walks, cookbook sales etc. In 2019, she handed the baton to Dr Cenac.
Will you provide an overview of your philanthropic work and why you started PAWASOL?
Originally, I was on my own. Someone told me about a young lady who needed an eye operation and could not afford it so, I decided to do a little fundraiser. We called it “Oscar Night’ where we all dressed up as Oscar personalities and we had it at Coco Palm Hotel, Rodney Bay.
It was held on the Oscar night and, we had a screen that we put up for a film. It was very well-attended and, we were fortunate enough to raise this money to have the operation for this girl who would have been blind if she had not had it. It was a very successful event. That is what motivated me into getting involved in more charitable work.
Shortly after that, I met a young girl who suffered from ‘dwarfism’ or stunted growth. She had never been to school. When I visited her at home – a little shack, I saw her sitting in a chair copying a note on a piece of paper with charcoal from the television. It was a tiny television. Apparently, her father and mother who suffered from the same thing did not want her to go to school. I eventually persuaded them to let her go. She was about 12 or 13 years and so we sent her to a special education school in St.Lucia for children who are a bit behind. She just blossomed from there.She did very well. Then she went on to the Seventh Day Academy. She is now studying for her ‘A’ Levels and now wants to be a Special Education teacher.
Is there an effective understanding of the issue of poverty in St.Lucia?
I think that most people realise that there are some families who struggle to put food on the table, send kids to school and pay their bills. In these Covid times it can be particularly hard with persons losing their jobs as with other countries. But I think that most people do realise that there is a need. There is always a need because there are some families where some parents are in jail or have addiction problems or don’t have a job, especially now with the COVID, it is a very serious problem.
Obviously, many people are out of work especially those who do self-help projects, vendors etc. So it is a difficult period. There are a lot of organisations that help but they have the same problems of lack of funds, especially in COVID times when people just don’t have the extra cash.
It is twenty years since you started PAWASOL. What has contributed to its success?
Well, I think I had a good team of ladies who helped. I think we had about 20 – 25 volunteers. Some were part-time. Some would help when they could and when we did fundraisers. Without the team, we could not have achieved as much as we did. Also, we never gave the monies to the parents but, to the doctor or hospital or the principal. Or we would buy the needed items. It was not just school books but lunches, fees, transportation, uniforms or summer camps.
What challenges did you face?
Usual challenges of money. That is the problem with all of these associations. We have people who are willing to give the time but do not always have the finances. So there is always a need and there will always be a need as in every other country.
What prompted you to hand over the reins to a new team earlier this year?
We just figured that we had reached the point where we had run out of new ideas and wanted some fresh blood. Also, quite a few ladies on the team were foreigners and, we wanted to include more Saint Lucians. I do think we need to impress on Saint Lucians that it could be their brother, sister or cousin who needs help. We wanted it to be far more inclusive. We are getting on and, we had been doing it for several years. We just wanted new people, new ideas as me move further into the new century.
Was it easy finding people to take over the helm?
That is a good question! No, it was pretty hard getting younger people involved. Unfortunately, just as we resigned, COVID came in and, that has played a role. I am hoping that the committee will pull in new volunteers after COVID has hopefully passed us. But, it is not easy to get volunteers at these times.
How would you like to see Pawasol develop over the next few years?
I hope to see younger Saint Lucians involved on a bigger scale even if they do it on a part-time basis. Just to show that they care.
Read about two young girls who benefitted from PAWASOL’s assistance and how they evolved to be successful women today in the magazine. They are Mia Roachford who was diagnosed with eye cancer in 2003 and, Eva Joseph who suffers from dwarfism – a bone growth disorder.
KUDOS TO PAWASOL VOLUNTEERS
PAWASOL began its charitable work in 2004 but did become a registered charity until 2007. Although PAWASOL started out by providing medical assistance, it decided that it would focus on providing educational assistance to young people in the form of school books, uniforms, lunches, fees and transportation. The medical costs were consuming all their funds so they capped it at EC$2,000 per medical request. They also set an age limit of eighteen.
Over the years, PAWASOL also assisted other charities such as the Blind Welfare Association, The Centre For Adolescent Renewal and Education (C.A.R.E), Dunnottar School, Child Development and Guidance Centre, Educare, Lady Gordon Centre, Grow Well, Massade School for Boys, Sickle Cell, Crisis Centre, The Barre St.Joseph Farmers Group and numerous individual causes around the island.
PAWASOL is run and managed by volunteers who organise fundraisers and, provide financial assistance, moral support and administrative and other services. Their unwavering commitment and dedication made PAWASOL a success.
For more articles on sustainability and social engagement in the Caribbean, read our latest issue of ApaNa Magazine.
Issue 4 provides a range of technical articles covering the environment, climate change and renewable energy, corporate giving and features nonprofit organisations including Nature Fun Ranch in Barbados, Ocean Heroes Network in the Cayman Islands, Caribbean Philanthropic Alliance in the Caribbean region.
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