The medal reads “Tu Haces La Diferencia.” In English it means, “You Make a Difference.”
George Jackson, of Iroquois, is a man who has tried to make a difference in the lives of some very special children since 1985, when he set up the Partners for Children in Development, a charitable organization, and began work in Honduras, one of the world’s most troubled nations.
In May of 2012, Jackson was recognized for those years of service with a Coca Cola Heroes Award.
The Coca Cola company operates a very large plant in Honduras, making both coke and beer. Coke is very popular in the nation. Like every major industry, profits come first with Coke, “but I believe they are trying to make a difference in the lives of the people in the nations where they operate,” Jackson said.
The medal was presented to him by representatives of Coca Cola at the Centro de Artes, an Arts Centre Jackson built for local children in San Pedro Sula, with the support of Partners. Reporters from Prensa, the San Pedro Sula journal, and staff at the Centre were also on hand.
The medal, created by Coca Cola, seeks to recognize and commend the efforts of ordinary people around the world who have tried to do something to help their community and its people. It seeks to honour those who try, often against great odds, “ to make a difference.”
George Jackson, who admits that he tries to keep a low profile, has devoted much of his life to helping the children of Honduras. He has developed homes and schools, emphasized and supported education and, in 2006, opened an Arts centre in the heart of the community where children can feel safe, and perhaps find a way out of the grinding poverty of their lives.
“Since I came to Honduras in 1988, the population has doubled,” Jackson said. “The streets are very dangerous, far more so than when I started. Because Honduras has become a drop off point between Columbia and Mexico, gangs and drug lords are essentially running the country. Illiteracy is rampant, and so is government corruption. Sadly, the city of San Pedro Sula has recently been named the most dangerous city in the world.”
Yet Jackson perseveres.
“I still firmly believe that education for the children is the key,” he explained. “They must learn to think and to reason, to choose a different path. Through Partners, I want to continue to give kids choices, to keep them occupied with things of value to the nation, We must offer an alternative to street life, or to no life at all.”
He feels that the support of Partners, a registered Canadian charity, really has made a difference.
“We have 120 children in public school, three in high school, and we are supporting five students in university through Partners. Olga and Karla, (both of whom Partners brought to Canada, and who attended school at Seaway), well, Olga will soon graduate as a doctor and Karla is going to graduate as an elementary teacher. They came from tough, tough backgrounds, both of them, and they have made it. I am so very, very proud of them. Believe me, I look forward to the day I go to their graduation ceremonies.”
Jackson is deeply honoured that he was chosen by Coca Cola to receive a Heroes Award, but he sees himself as simply a representative of all the people who have kept the work of Partners alive.
“It is Partners’ work, and people’s support of that work, that really matters. Once an organization like Partners succeeds in helping a few, the effect ultimately spreads into the next generations. It is my hope that people will continue to support us, help us to continue to do what we are doing.”
Next week, Jackson returns to Honduras and the task that has become a big part of his life.
“I am going to keep doing this work until I can’t do it any more,” he said.
George Jackson and Partners for Children in Development can be reached at Box 466, Iroquois, Ontario.