Omar Bourne, who grew up in the Vineyard Town area of Kingston, beamed with pride when he collected the 2019 Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Excellence in the Nation Builder category.
He has been a true nation builder especially through non-profit organizations, including The Divine Beacon of Change Foundation, which he founded on 19 February 2014.
It was borne out of a passion for helping people.
“I want to be remembered as a nation builder and a catalyst of change – as someone who is passionate about transforming the lives of everyone that he comes in contact with,” Bourne told The Beacon.
His organization, often in collaboration with other philanthropists, works mainly in inner-city communities providing mentorship and other outreach programmes.
One major beneficiary is the Mountain View Primary School, whose student population resides mainly in the volatile communities of Mountain View Avenue, Nannyville, Vineyard Town, Back Bush and Rollington Town.
Other schools that have benefited include Tivoli Gardens High and Gregory Park Primary.
The foundation recently expanded its outreach, feeding more than 300 homeless and less-fortunate people in and around Downtown Kingston.
Bourne, now a Justice of the Peace for Kingston, told The Beacon that his passion for serving the less-fortunate is inspired by the childhood struggles he encountered.
He recalled struggling academically, emotionally and financially while he was enrolled at Mountain View Primary School and Camperdown High.
Things worsened when the relationship ended between his mother – a janitor, and his father – a bus driver.
Bourne said his close relatives abused him physically and verbally; he even slipped into depression.
“Though challenges were all around, I never stopped believing that this was just a chapter of my life and one day things would get better,” he posited.
Notwithstanding his struggles, Bourne, during his high school years, served as a Prefect and as President of the Inter-School Christian Fellowship club. He was also an active member of the School Choir and Music Department.
After completing secondary school, Bourne volunteered at his primary school as a teacher assistant. In 2011, he became a product of the HEART Trust school-leaving programme, which lead him to work at a government institution in Kingston.
When his two-year contract with his government job ended, he revisited his primary school and went back to full-time voluntary service – teaching and empowering Grade Six students.
Through his foundation, Bourne became Mentorship Coordinator at his primary school – a position that led him to permanent employment as Administrative Assistant.
Bourne holds a certificate in Business Administration and Management, and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management at the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean.
He encourages people to surround themselves with positive role models.
“Believe in yourselves as no one can do that the way you can,” Bourne said, adding: “Find a confidant and practice expressing how you feel regardless of your gender. Practice surrounding yourselves with good, positive and spiritual influencers.”
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