Thieves Strip Children First – Spanish Town-Based Organisation For The Most Needy Cleaned Out By Robbers

They celebrated 19 years last Thursday, but it was not a happy day for staff of non-governmental organisation Children First, as they were still struggling to come to grips with the fact that thieves had broken into their facility and left with all their cosmetology and barbering equipment.

Executive director of the Spanish Town-based organisation, Claudette Pious-Richardson, is still in shock, as these tools have been used for years to help transform the lives of several residents.

The theft has made learning a bit more challenging for the 45 students between the ages of 10 to 35 years old who are currently benefiting from the organisation’s cosmetology and barbering programme.

“We have been there for too long, so I am just a bit concerned for this to happen now. We have been helping the communities. We have people that have done well, set up their own business and employed others,” Pious-Richardson told The Sunday Gleaner.

“I just feel a little violated, because if I have given so much to the community, I don’t really expect that this is going to happen,” she said.


The Monk Street head office was broken into about three weeks ago, but the organisation has not been able to purchase replacements. The thieves left nothing behind. When the staff turned up at work on May 24, they found an empty classroom bereft of barber chairs, portable workstations, mirrors, flat irons, and even their blow-dryer.

Administrator at Children First, Vandrea Thompson, said the theft has been depressing and devastating for the staff.

“This is one of our flagship initiatives. We have barbers, we have nail techs who have set up their own businesses, have gone on work experiences, have participated in the National Association of Hairdressers and Cosmetologists competitions and have really made an impact,” said Thompson.

“For the 10 to 16 years old, it is really giving them prevocational skills, so they get an understanding. We know that they are not able to be working at that age, but we are just giving them the basic skills so that when they move from here, they can go on to different institutions to get advancement in terms of the skills,” added Thompson.

These younger students are beneficiaries of the Children First Achievement Centre, which provides remedial education to children so that they can matriculate into the formal system. The organisation provides several other life-changing programmes for children, adolescents and young adults.

“Children First serves underprivileged young people. Youngsters who are from volatile communities in Spanish Town, communities that are polarised by gang violence,” said Thompson.

“It is really about giving them a second chance. We have parents and young people who are the breadwinners of their family, so it’s giving them a skill, giving them an opportunity to make them a little bit more marketable,” she said.

Coordinator for the organisation’s cosmetology programme, Debiesha Bennett-Moodie, said the students have been improvising since the theft.

Instead of workstations, they now have to use desk and chairs to do nails, and the barbering students have been forced to ask their clients to sit on metal chairs whenever they are doing their practicals.

“We don’t want them to sit around and not do anything and stop from school,” said Bennett-Moodie.


A former intern who resides in Sweden has contributed funds to purchase at least two barber chairs, and someone contributed a hair dryer and a nail station, but the organisation is still far from where it was. Several persons, including corporate Jamaicans, have also pledged to assist but many of these promises have not yet been fulfilled. Still, Pious-Richardson said the verbal encouragement have inspired her to continue the programme despite the challenges.

“People don’t have money and they don’t have things to give us back, but the words of encouragement on a daily basis that have been coming are really encouraging,” she said.

“I have all these young people and I can’t send them home, but the good thing is that they are willing to work with me under the condition,” she shared.


  1. The tings whey some human beings do meck mi really haffi wonda more time. Some time ago I was watching one program, either operation smile are sumin like dat.

    In any case, the program was abt a lady who was getting computers together fi send a yaad fi help di schoolas dem who cyaa afford dem sumin deh. Very encouraging, but then di lady seh it was hard becaw di people dem tief di tings dem awfa di wharf.

    And is not like fi seh ah some state ah di art brand new tings enoh, ah refurbish tings. Various companies would donate dem tings.

    God bless fi few whey leff who have sumin leff eena dem, are di worl woulda collapse inna anarchy long time wid hope fi none…

  2. I am so upset by this, anyone who buys these ill gotten gains are just as guilty. I hope this doesn’t deter those who wants to assist those in need down there. May karma be swift and harsh on the thieves.

  3. Ms “Tiny Pious” has been a GODsend, real beacon of light for ghetto yutes.How dem must violate the lady n charity like that,what use the don dere serve??

    I pray God restoreth the program and the thieves will or will not live to see the charity advance even further.

  4. Tears cum ah mi yeye. Not even one word could pass my lips. I can’t even imagine the heart somebody would have to break in steal from an organization like this. Fi dem heart and corner dark.

  5. All dem tings yah turn ppl off from doing certain tings.

    Unno please return the stolen goods, so the needy can move forward wid dem training. Why unno robbing the poor and needy? Is curse unno want fi teck unno and unno generations. Return di ppl dem tings!

  6. When they do those things the whole of Jamaica suffers because it will never elevate itself. And people teef like puss because they know they will never be caught because the government don’t care and the police are too busy killing their baby mother’s or men smoking a spliff on the street to care.

  7. This article gave me a headache. An organization that is focused on uplifting and encouraging the less fortunate… teaching people how to fish instead of just giving them food, was targeted by criminals. This is where they chose to ram-sack and rob?? It’s as if having a conscience or voice of reason is a thing of the past.

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