How IPP started………
The early 1980’s was a period of many changes in the Diplomatic circle in Jamaica. Some Ambassadors had completed their tour of duty and were being replaced by new personnel. Wives of the new Ambassadors were busy getting their children settled in a new environment including selecting schools for their children. It was also a period of austerity and there were a lot of social needs. Employers had to look beyond the weekly wages and offer assistance in other areas of need for their employees.
One loyal gardener was bold enough to approach the wife of the newly appointed Ambassador of Spain to Jamaica, HH Senora Cervino to assist with school fees for his son. Being sympathetic but new to Jamaica, she was very cautious and decided to discuss the request with two friends she had recently met. These two ladies were Mrs Dottie Alonzo (wife of an expatriate) and Mrs Serita Matalon. It was decided to involve other wives of the Diplomatic Corps in the discussion with a view to helping needy children. The group of three also envisaged that sooner or later it could be perceived that the Spanish Embassy was offering more and better incentives to their employees which might create some diplomatic jealousies. So, all the wives of the Ambassadors and High Commissioners were invited to the next meeting. They also decided to invite the wife of the then Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Mrs Marigold Harding to join the group for further discussion.
At that time the Latin American Women’s Club (LAWC) was well known and included most if not all the wives of Latin American Ambassadors to Jamaica. Maria Pin Chin, the then President of the Latin American Women’s Club was invited to join the group. The constitution of the LAWC was used as a guide to formulate a constitution for “Foster Parents” the name of the new group.
A Group is formed…
The group immediately started a “bring & buy” sale among themselves and the proceeds used to help needy children. In a very short time the organization grew rapidly and attracted wives of expatriates living in Jamaica as well as well thinking Jamaican women who had a great zeal for volunteering. Meetings were held at the ambassadors’ residences on rotation. Graiella Urrucchia, the wife of the Mexican Ambassador, a very dynamic personality and then President of “Foster Parents” grew the “Bring & Buy” sales into a Bazaar held at Devon House.
A New Name…..
We soon learnt that “Foster Parents” was already a registered name therefore we had to find a new name for the organisation. International Proxy Parents (IPP) was chosen as the new name and registered in 1980. After enjoying three years of having our annual Bazaar at Devon House, we were graciously accommodated by the Wyndham Hotel as Devon House was due for refurbishment. In fact, the wife of the manager of Wyndham Hotel was an IPP member and it became the venue for all bazaars until the hotel’s closure in 2013. Currently the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel hosts our annual International Bazaar held in November.
Best Care Lodge founded by the St Andrew Jaycees and home for both physically and mentally handicapped children became the primary beneficiary of IPP when we first started. Today, Glenhope Nursery, Best Care Children’s Home, Maxfield Park Nursery, Maxfield Park Unit 1, St Andrew Settlement, Homestead Place of Safety for Girls and Top Hill Basic School are all beneficiaries of IPP funds.
IPP has also given millions of dollars in scholarships to needy students from primary to tertiary levels.
Schools which have benefitted include, Shortwood Practising School, Wolmers Boys and Girls Schools, St. Andrew Technical School, Russeau’s High School, Manchester High School, Happy Grove High School, Merle Grove High School, St Andrew High School, Jamaica College, Kingston College, UWI and UTECH.
IPP – The Organization…
The International Proxy Parents is a well established organization with a Board of Directors that can boast of many achievements over the past 35 years. It continues to work very closely with the Children’s Development Agency (CDA) under the Ministry of Youth to improve facilities and activities in the homes and with guidance counsellors and principals to assist needy high school students with scholarships.
In the future, our mantra of “serving Jamaican children” may well need to adapt to meet the many new challenges that children face as we approach the 2020’s and beyond. Hopefully IPP will be able to partner with the private sector and other childrens’ organisations so as to have an even greater impact on the lives of Jamaican children.
IPP will continue to provide an opportunity for qualified and trained diplomatic wives, wives of expatriates and professional Jamaican women to volunteer their services and skills to help needy children all over the island…for these needs will not go away.