The International Children’s Organization (ICO) has successfully completed its’ first “Back to School Fair and Fun Day,” in Guyana by donating basic school items to hundreds of children at Grove, East Bank Demerara.
The (ICO) is a Non-Profit Organisation (NGO) based in Florida, United States aimed at providing education outreach to underprivileged children in various parts of the world.
ICO founder and coordinator, Onica Charles spoke about the event which concluded on Saturday.
The 30-year-old Guyanese, who is based in United States, has spearheaded similar events in Miami, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Dominican Republic, South Africa, and Canada. She noted that “the turnout was great.”
“We had approximately 40 volunteers which included people from the community. Even the Primary School boys helped… Everybody pitched in. We even had a barber who gave the children free haircuts. It was a great day for the kids and it was all free,” informed Charles.
In addition to a donation of 500 book bags complete with school supplies to the children, the back to school event featured a bounce house, trampoline, and face painting activities.
An elated Charles added that “everyone was really appreciative of everything. Nurses attached to the Hospital at Diamond also participated and conducted free blood pressure and glucose screening.”
The young philanthropist, who completed part of her education in Guyana, later graduated from Florida International University (FIU) with a Bachelors Degree in International Relations.
She subsequently acquired a Masters in Public Administration from the Nova Southeastern University.
She currently works as an Administrative Officer for the City of Sunrise in Florida.
Charles noted that it was a privilege to serve her community.
“A few years ago that was me; so being able to help in anyway I can mean the world to me. I can’t be happy with myself knowing that I was given such an opportunity and didn’t give back.”
Charles said that the next major undertaking of the non -profit organisation is to construct a massive Children’s Aid Center at Craig, East Bank Demerara.
The Center will be equipped with a computer lab, library, basketball court and playground. Charles disclosed too that free meals and tutoring will also be offered to children within community.
While the organization is largely supported by students from colleges and universities across the United States, the founder is seeking assistance from Guyana’s private sector in serving, for now, the children on the East Bank Demerara corridor.
Charles is hopeful that this project will conclude by the end of August 2015.
She said that the ICO is a registered NGO in the United States and is in the process of being registered in Guyana since “we will be doing a lot more work down here. Next year our goal is to give away 1,000 book bags,” said an optimistic Charles.
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