Ri­cardo Burke trans­form­ing lives with Yutes 4 Change

The Star (Jamaica) - - FEATURE - ALI­CIA BAR­RETT STAR Writer

Three years ago, Ri­cardo Burke had a dream to help chil­dren on Walker’s Av­enue in the Gre­gory Park, St Cather­ine, com­mu­nity who were in need. He walked the streets of the com­mu­nity ask­ing for do­na­tions to help feed the chil­dren.

Burke said that some peo­ple in the com­mu­nity gave a help­ing hand, while oth­ers mocked and jeered him.

“I had a job, and I left it be­cause I said it was tak­ing up too much of my time. Af­ter see­ing two chil­dren in my com­mu­nity not at­tend­ing school be­cause their par­ents couldn't af­ford it, it just made me want to help in some way,” he said.

He later started the Yutes 4 Change Foun­da­tion, which is aimed at trans­form­ing the lives of chil­dren in Gre­gory Park.

To kick-start his foun­da­tion, Burke wrote a com­pelling let­ter and sent it to ev­ery busi­ness place he could think of. He said that ever since that time, he has been get­ting help from many lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional en­ti­ties that have pro­vided com­put­ers and books.

Burke told THE STAR that he hosted a com­mu­nity fair for the chil­dren and then later, a feed­ing pro­gramme.

“Some­times when the pres­sure comes, I want to give up, but I have to con­tinue. I made a prom­ise to God that I would not work, I will sac­ri­fice my work to help peo­ple,” he said.

Sh­eryl Francis, a res­i­dent of Gre­gory Park, is glad Burke started the foun­da­tion.

“Mi feel good be­cause my seven-year-old daugh­ter a ben­e­fit from it. It is very good. Right now, it a up­lift the com­mu­nity,” Francis said.

Mean­while, Burke said that he would not able to keep the foun­da­tion go­ing with­out the as­sis­tance of a sup­port­ive team. He said they share a com­mon phi­los­o­phy that ev­ery­one, ir­re­spec­tive of their sta­tion in life, can achieve.

At the age of 31, Burke said that he is pur­su­ing an as­so­ciate de­gree at the Ex­cel­sior Com­mu­nity Col­lege. He said that he is grate­ful for this op­por­tu­nity be­cause he was a high-school dropout who only passed one sub­ject.

“Some­times I think it is not real, but I am humbled, and I give God all the praise,” he said.

With the de­sire to pos­i­tively im­pact the lives of more peo­ple, Burke is hop­ing that he will one day be able to spread his wings into other ar­eas.

“I want to own a mo­tor car so that I can go to other parishes and share the vi­sion with peo­ple to do the same and bet­ter their lives and com­mu­nity. Peo­ple have been ask­ing me to come to their area, but the lack of trans­port is set­ting me back. I hope to get one soon and con­tinue this jour­ney,” he said.

SHORN HEC­TOR

Un­sung hero Ri­cardo Burke’s Yutes 4 Change Foun­da­tion has been trans­form­ing the lives of chil­dren in Gre­gory Park, St Cather­ine.

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