A cancer diagnosis and later battling the disease were the turning points for Dr Pearl Jarrett who did deep introspection on her life and decided that she wanted to live a more meaningful life.
“After beating cancer, by the grace of God, I just thought to myself, I just don't want to live the way I have been doing — by going to work, going to church and coming home and go back to work and just keep doing that over and over again and that's it, that was my life. It was too insular and all about me, I didn't want to do that anymore, there's got to be more to life,” she shared at a Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS) Experts Speak webinar which was held recently where she was the guest speaker.
The British-born philanthropist of Jamaican descent who lives in England had always had a desire to work towards sustainable, lasting change in developing countries, so after beating cancer in 2006 she decided to give up her well-paid consultancy and follow her dream.
“I have always wanted to run an international children's charity that was my dream. So when I came out of the hospital, one of the first things I did was to start my children's charity and create a difference for children around the world,” she said.
Since that time, she has never looked back. Helping to meet the needs of thousands of children around the world has been the most rewarding thing.
Her charity, the Jarrett Foundation, has done work in Gambia and Sierra Leone in Africa but decided to turn to Jamaica because of her family connections where she formed partnerships with the Ministry of Education and other organisations. Through these partnerships, she was able to find out what were the needs of children in Jamaica.
She said this included providing furniture such as well-needed desks and chairs; teaching resources, computers and laptops, and sports equipment. These items she said she was able to ship to Jamaica.
The foundation has, thus far, donated more than $45 million worth of school furniture, 27,000 exercise books, and resources valued at approximately $5 million.
Since the pandemic, she has donated two million face masks to the Government of Jamaica, worth $130 million (US$839k). The protective gears were distributed among the health and education ministries, service organisations, non-profits, churches and underserved communities.
Dr Jarrett will further share her experience on how to build and maintain relationships with the diaspora as one of the guest speakers at the National Volunteer Conference being organised by the CVSS and which will be held virtually on November 30.
The CVSS is partnering with the United States Embassy to host the conference, which is being held under the theme 'Effective Collaboration as a tool for National Development'. The goal of the 2021 CVSS Volunteer Conference is to convene with voluntary organisations to gain consensus on strategies and approaches for inclusive and effective multi-sectoral collaboration.