ATTENDING to the needs of at-risk students once they’ve left the school playground, is never an easy task – particularly for working parents with little to no extended family support. So when Digicel heard about Stepping Stones afterschool care and support group, serving the broader community of Castries, they offered their help and support in a number of ways.
The Stepping Stones facility in Sunny Acres has been changing lives since 2015, providing a safe haven in the city for children in need so they never feel left out or forced to manage on their own. It strives to build self-confidence and a love of learning in all who venture through its doors – a goal that recently struck a chord with the staff and management at Digicel. To help the 25 registered students, aged 8 to 18 years, (and indeed the volunteers charged with their afterschool care) the region’s foremost total communications and entertainment provider, Digicel, has gifted the support group with new whiteboards and free access to their internet network.
“This will assist the kids in conducting research for assignments and expose them to a wealth of knowledge,” said Joan Sylvester, Managing Director of Stepping Stones. She continued, “Most of the children do not have internet service at their dwellings and quite a few do not have electricity, so this assistance will greatly impact their lives. And accessing content via YouTube and other websites can also be helpful for our volunteers in terms of teaching, so we are all extremely appreciative of Digicel’s gesture.”
Yaroslav Baturov, Digicel’s GTM Proposition Manager, was equally eager to praise Stepping Stones. “It’s a fantastic charity, helping our youth see the full potential life can offer,” he enthused. “Without Stepping Stones, all these students may otherwise see is a future marred by violence, poverty and crime.”
Yaroslav is no stranger to the positive impact of a steady, guiding hand. He began his journey with Digicel on a program designed to help underprivileged students travel and experience life working abroad. He moved from the Ukraine to Ireland – and has never looked back. “If I can change even two or three lives, in the same way Digicel changed mine; if I can prevent even two or three kids from choosing the wrong path; I will be happy.”
On presenting Stepping Stones with whiteboards and free internet from Digicel, Yaroslav also pledged his personal time, offering to assist with afterschool lessons once a week. “I loved math when I was studying… I had a math teacher who ignited my interest… and I hope to do the same thing at Stepping Stones. By encouraging my students to pursue careers similar to mine.”
In his closing remarks at the presentation, Yaroslav passionately quoted Nelson Mandela: “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest assets as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth who care for and protect our people.”