The Nathan Ebanks Foundation (NEF) is a non-profit, social support organization dedicated to the development of children with disabilities and special education needs in Jamaica. We believe that every child, including those with special needs, deserves to be included and raised in a supportive family and community environment. The NEF was founded by Christine Staple-Ebanks and her husband Robert, in honor of their son Nathan, following his diagnosed of cerebral palsy at age nine months (in 2005), after they discovered that the early assessments, intervention, rehabilitation and educational services their son needed to aid in his development was not available in their country.
The NEF's focus is on children with disabilities or special educational needs and their families or caregivers. The NEF is committed to shaping the future of these children positively by working collaboratively with families, schools, organizations, and communities to offer the gift of perspective. We provide:
- Services, support, and training to families and caregivers
- Services, support, and training for professionals and non-professionals
- Research-based information and fact sheets that are easy to follow
- Opportunities for strategic partnerships
- Advocacy for systemic improvement
The Mission of the Nathan Ebanks Foundation is to support the holistic development, health, education and overall quality of life for children and youths, with disabilities and other special needs in Jamaica (the primary beneficiaries).
Since 1981 Jamaica has received heavy foreign aid to help the government alleviate huge economic and social problems such as high unemployment, rising debt, the backlash of slavery, poor education and extreme poverty. Our debts continue to mount, and the ministries responsible for social and educational improvement have broad national targets that don't include the resources necessary for small groups in a society desperately needing active promotion. The estimated 200,000 children living with disabilities in our country are slipping through the net as the government concentrates more on achieving its targets at a higher level in society.
The Nathan Ebanks Foundations is one of the only NGOs here in Jamaica that is actively engaged in advocacy work that might convince the government to commit to the obligations laid down in the signed Human Rights (date) and Diversity Acts (date). International charities have gradually started to concentrate their funding more on African and Asian countries, pulling their support to Jamaica and leaving the country's weaker social groups increasingly exposed and alone.
Jamaica has a long history of slavery and ignoring weaker social groups. What is more, the underlying feeling in the country is that disability is a social stigma. Thus, within the country itself, few homegrown charities are championing the interests of children - let alone those with mental and physical disabilities. Jamaica also lacks a philanthropic mindset - national aid giving is at an all-time low as people struggle to build themselves up. In times such as these, incredible suffering is occurring. This leaves few people, corporations or organizations left to champion the needs of a deserving and neglected social group.
The UN recognizes that there is a very real 'social case' for aligning the social reality of life in Jamaica to the standards outlined in the international humanitarian treaties that have been signed. But bringing about change at a supra-national level is hard with corruption and conflicting budgetary objectives. The Nathan Ebanks Foundation is one of a few NGOs in Jamaica that is seeking to bring about change at a governmental level and a grassroots level. Thus, we provide families and children with disabilities with the training they need to lead empowered lives, we are behind cutting-edge research that provides the real statistics on how many people live with disability, whether they are being integrated as the government claims, and projections on the kinds of disabilities that are on the rise in Jamaica. We work closely with the government advocating for educational change and have one hand supporting the administrations and another one holding tightly to the children who would lose their voices without us. The social case for funding is a strong one: without your help - there is no one else we can count on to change a generation's destiny forever and break the permanency of suffering.