Greetings Family and Friends!

Five years ago, I embarked on a journey of importance and impact by launching a mission based organization, Pearls of Potential (PoP), that provides support and services to adolescent mothers, primarily in the Caribbean, through capacity building, advocacy, and mentoring.

PoP was born out of my own experience as a young mother navigating my new normal. When I got pregnant in college, I faced not only the challenges of being a new mother but the guilt and shame that came along with having a child out of wedlock. Although resiliency was not new to me, what made the difference in my success is the support that I received from my family, friends and church community. But I know my story is not the same for every girl that gets pregnant, especially if they live in the developing world. More often than not, when girls get pregnant they are forced to leave home and expelled from school leading to limited opportunities for academic success and employment. These outcomes that young mothers face make the work that PoP continues to do extremely important.  

Over the past 5 years, I have navigated the challenges of starting an organization providing services overseas while living in the United States, working a full-time job, taking care of my family and being involved in other community service activities. This has not been easy but I’ve always held on to the fact that this is a God given vision and remembered “my why”. Nevertheless, we have achieved several key deliverables including:

  • Convened a forum on “The State of the Adolescent Mother in the Caribbean” in partnership with The Caribbean Association of World Bank and IMF Staff. At this forum, Her Excellency Dr. Thelma Phillip-Browne, St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador to the United States served as the opening speaker. This was held in observance of International Day of the Girl. 

  • Presented at the first Caribbean Congress on Adolescent and Youth Health in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on the “Impact of Policies and Programs on Adolescent Mothers”.

  • Featured blog posts on Girls’ Globe on the importance of providing support to this population. 

  • Connecting with leading Caribbean organizations and leaders to advocate for adolescent mothers in the region.

This year, with the assistance of a philanthropic consultant, I have been able to narrow my focus on the key reason why I started PoP, which is to provide tangible financial support to young mothers. With that being said, I am excited to announce the launch of the PoP Award to provide educational support to two adolescent mothers in Jamaica. For this initiative, I will be partnering with Lasco Chin Foundation (LCF) which has a focus on early intervention to help Jamaica’s at-risk youth develop the relationships, goals and capacities needed to break the cycle of poverty and crime and become productive members of society, especially as successful entrepreneurs. LCF will assist in identifying the deserving young women for the PoP award. Please stay tuned for more details and updates on the PoP award and how you can support our initiative. 

 

Thank you in advance for your support as we strive towards a world where adolescent mothers are treated equally, adequately supported in reaching their full academic, professional and economic potential, and equipped with the tools to lead successful lives. 

 

With a Heart to Serve,

Mona-Lee Belizaire