Photos: Digicel Foundation supports work in honour of former employee
Donovan Betancourt, the father of the late Mickhail Betancourt said the KB Foundation seeks to assist children with special needs, and provide scholarships for students from depressed environments to attend the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).
Members of the Digicel family gathered at the company’s headquarters in downtown Kingston on Tuesday morning to jointly launch the KB Foundation with family members of Mickhail Betancourt, a former Digicel employee who died tragically in 2015.
The KB Foundation, coined after Mikhail’s nickname, ‘King Bettz’, was started by his parents, Sheron and Donovan Betancourt. The foundation seeks to assist children with special needs, and provide scholarships for students from depressed environments to attend the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).
Already, the foundation has been providing two meals per day for the children attending the Early Stimulation Centre of Excellence in the Mickhail Betancourt Building in Portland, which was opened by Digicel Foundation in April of last year. The centre houses 100 special needs children from various communities in the parish.
The foundation has already partnered with the CMU in providing 10 scholarships to students from Portland for the academic year 2017-2018.
At the launch on Tuesday, Donovan Betancourt said, “today we launch, officially, the KB Foundation and we are using this to honour the contribution that Mickhail gave.
“The idea behind it, is that we have two choices. We can choose to be sorrowful or we can use his memories and the generosity of his legacy to give back and rekindle his spirit that fosters prosperity going forward.”
Donovan said he is using the launch as an occasion to show family and friends that the family has been working in Mikhail’s honour, and are now calling on well-wishers to work with them.
“We have said that we will not allow his memory to sit there just idle by, and so we are looking at how we can move forward. And while we launch the foundation today, over the last two years, we have been doing work,” he said.
Daryl Vaz, Member of Parliament (MP) for West Portland, where the Mickhail Betancourt Building is located, handed over a cheque for $500,000 in support of the Early Stimulation Centre of Excellence’s feeding programme.
Vaz also committed to an annual contribution of $500,000 to the programme.
He thanked Digicel Foundation and KB Foundation for the work they have been doing in the constituency.
KB Foundation Launch
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Antonica Gunter-Gayle, a representative of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, said the help provided by the KB Foundation is well needed, as the Mickhail Betancourt Building is located in a depressed area of Portland.
She said without the two hot meals that are provided daily, a number of the special needs children at the facility would not be able to attend school in the days.
Elaine Hayden of the CMU outlined a situation where some students at the institution have to be peddling goods on the streets to be able to attend the institution. She also thanked the KB Foundation for the assistance being given to students.
Mickhail died in Portland on October 24, 2015 in a swimming accident while on an outing with friends. He was 23 at the time.
At the time of his passing, he was an employee of Digicel Jamaica Limited in the Information Technology Department.
He was awaiting final grades from the CMU (then Caribbean Maritime Institute) to complete a BSc degree in logistic management.