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Soul Rebellion – Building Jamaica’s Future-One Brick At A Time

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Furthering education in Jamaica by improving the conditions of schools across the island is Soul Rebellion, a charity founded in 2006 by New York born and raised Richard C. Sloan, as a positive alternative to the alcohol soaked antics typically associated with Spring Break in Negril. Sloan, working alongside partners Josh Reyes and Dean Wallace of Negril’s Jungle Nightclub, raised funds through Soul Rebellion’s two distinct segments: a series of fundraising reggae concerts held throughout March at the Jungle and the Buy-A-Brick program, based at the Travellers Beach Resort in association with the Negril Education Environment Trust (NEET). For just $JA100.00 (US$1.14) Spring Breakers (and others) can buy a brick/cinder block and personalize it in any way they choose, which Soul Rebellion uses to restore existing buildings or create entirely new structures for area schools.

Negril’s St. Paul’s Primary School in Little London was the first beneficiary of the Buy-A-Brick program: in 2007 the school’s pit latrines were replaced with gleaming flush toilets and sinks with hot and cold running water. The revenue generated through the Buy-A-Brick program as well as the concert proceeds were also used to provide six scholarships for older Negril area students, which facilitated their participation in various career-training programs. Soul Rebellion also assisted The Ferris School in Savannah La Mar with the completion of their snack shop and in association with Stunners of the Month, a subscription sunglass company, Pat Chin of VP Records, the Life Massive Movement, and with the assistance of Tingalaya’s Retreat, they secured several sets of math and English text books for community schools, their cost estimated at $US40,000. On March 19, a set of bricks was delivered to the Mt. Airy All Age School, which will be used for the construction of a library.

Two successful Soul Rebellion benefit concerts were held in March at Negril’s Jungle nightclub featuring Elephant Man, Chino, T.O.K. and Shaggy, who along with his cohorts Redd Foxx and Rayvon stopped by Travellers where they purchased, and signed, several bricks. Shaggy, a primary fundraiser for Kingston’s Bustamante Children’s Hospital admitted he is extremely selective about aligning his name with other charity projects yet he wholeheartedly endorses Soul Rebellion, which he initially heard about in 2009. “I was watching TV in Jamaica and saw a segment about Soul Rebellion; it is a great idea, helping to rebuild schools,” said Shaggy following his Soul Rebellion performance, which attracted about 12,000 people. “We checked them out, saw the work they are doing, and even bought bricks because it is a very good organization.”

Soul Rebellion hopes to surpass their March 2010 triumphs of expanded crowd and sponsor support with their upcoming May 23 concert. “If every visitor to Negril purchased just one block,” notes Sloan “we’d be building new schools and libraries in multiples every month.” The group recently engaged Stephen Marley for a command performance for the 23rd.

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