News and Media

Princeton Herald Top Stories
‘Heartbroken’ over Homeland
By: Dick Brinster, Staff Writer

Twin Rivers woman pledges to help students in Jamaica

Gome_familyEAST WINDSOR — Although Cheryl Rutty-Gomes left Jamaica with her family nearly three decades ago, a visit last month to her old hometown served as a reminder of how desperate impoverished people are in a nation otherwise known as a vacation paradise.

” I was heartbroken,” she said this week, alluding to a trip to Walkerswood, where she says children are hungry for both food and education. “Upon returning to the U.S., I made a solemn oath that I will use every resource and means I can think of to provide help and some relief to this school and community.”

The elementary school she speaks of already does its part to see that children are fed with a farm project that grows fruits and vegetables, said Ms. Gomes, a Twin Rivers resident who works in marketing and public affairs at the University Medical Center at Princeton. But more help is needed, and Mrs. Gomes has formed the Walkerswood Relief Project.

“Even with the project, some kids still go hungry without a nutritious breakfast and lunch,” she said. “Our dream is that each and every student will not be hungry during school.”Ms. Gomes is a member of the Rutty family, one which avoided the depths of poverty and despair that long has symbolized life for many of the people on the Caribbean island nation of more than 2.6 million.

The family, which owns Trans Caribe Express Shippers Inc. of East Orange, N.J. was able to collect enough donations from families and friends in the United States to send in 2005 a 900-cubic-foot container of school and office supplies to Walkerswood, a village of about 4,000 tucked away in the lush tropical hills of St. Ann Parish.

Mrs. Gomes said the next shipment, which can include canned and or dried food in addition to the needed school supplies, will be sent as soon as enough goods are received to fill another container.

As a mother of three children, Mrs. Gomes is particularly proud of the student achievement in a town where children through grade 9 are educated in a dilapidated building typical of schools in many impoverished nations. She says despite limited resources, 80 percent of grade 9 students passed an exam needed to enter a secondary school about 10 miles away, and 95 percent succeeded on a second try.

Ms. Gomes, a Twin Rivers resident since 1999, wants the progress to continue, but says it will take more than word-of-mouth contributions from a small group within the Jamaican-American community. And, supplies for the elementary school of 280 students go beyond the need for just pencils and paper.

The children are in need of computers, televisions, projectors and educational software, book bags, keyboards for music and a school bus, Mrs. Gomes said. She added that the lunch program is in need of all types of kitchen supplies such as blenders, microwaves, toaster ovens, food processors, serving spoons and even knives and forks.

“Past donations were greatly appreciated,” she said of the contributions of 2005. “But the problems of overcrowding still exist.

“By using a multimedia campaign with, which includes solicitation of donations in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area to create awareness, the Rutty family is hoping to capture the hearts and helping hands of the right organizations and sponsors who will donate supplies to help this and other communities.”

A community center once used for the hub of civic and social events in Walkerswood is now closed, Mrs. Gomes said. The once-profitable community cooperative — which housed arts and crafts, a farmers market, a wood-working shop and restaurant — also is closed and badly in need of repair.

Mrs. Gomes is gratified that when her family lived in Jamaica it was able to contribute to those is need, providing aid to transport children to school, the sick to hospitals and provide first-aid assistance and help those in need of food.

“From the time we came to the U.S.A., we always felt the need to help the community we left behind,” Mrs. Gomes said.

Information on how to make a tax-deductible contribution can be found at 

For more information, e-mail Mrs. Cheryl Rutty-Gomes at