$2,611 gift with love
Teen student Amber gives project profits to save society
What began as a school challenge for a secondary school student has now turned into a passion.
Fifteen-year-old Amber McKenzie of Codrington School is on a mission to get the defunct Society Primary School back on track; and she has begun with the donation of over $2,000 –– which she made from the sale of an organic mosquito lotion.
The fifth former was given $20 and a six-week deadline to start a business or manufacture a product, as part of her business management school project under the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation.
Whatever the profit, it could either be pocketed or donated to a charity of choice.
Amber gave all $2,611 to the Save Society Foundation, a church-based group dedicated to getting back up and going the St John school, which was closed last year due to a lack of funds from Government.
“It’s a very historical school, and I just feel to have such an old and precious school go away at this time –– it just like hurts, and, in a way, I just want to keep it together.
“I know that Society Primary School was shut down by the Government because of financial issues, and since its a school right down from our hill, I just felt horrible. All those children who lost going to school there had to be moved somewhere else.
“And the school was so close; and I thought, ‘Well, you know, I just want to help’,” Amber told Barbados TODAY.
Her idea to create a repellant against the spread of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has been ravaging Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean.
“I’m an athlete; I do swimming. And there’s all this thing –– the chikungunya virus and dengue fever –– and obviously it would be very bad if I contracted it. It was a concern all around Barbados.
“So I was concerned about it, and my family was concerned. I have skin problems and [suffer] allergies to toxic repellants. So, I decided it’s part of school, so I should just create an organic mosquito lotion.
“I think I spent about a whole weekend just creating concoctions with different oils like lavender, rose, citronella, grape seed . . . and eventually I came up with one that I liked. I went to Holders Farmers Market on a Sunday and I got a focus group . . . and I got them to try it and I got feedback . . . and I tweaked it a bit, and started selling it from there.
Amber sold three bottles in the first instance, which netted her $39 after initial expenditure of $15.01 –– taken from the original $20 given by Codrington School for the business project.
Over the next six weeks she would sell 281 bottles of what is now known as Organic Essentials –– her very own mosquito repellant, bottled and packaged right at home in her spare time.
“At the end of the six weeks, I made in total $4,011 and I took off my expenses. So it resulted in a total profit of $2, 611; and I donated 100 per cent.
“It won’t get the whole school back up and running, obviously; but it’s a start and you just have to keep going,” she explained.
The business management school project is now over, but Amber has no plans on stopping.
“I am going to keep donating, and keep the business going, and maybe other people will help and join in. You never know what could happen.”
And her drive to get the school up and running is already morphing into other ideas.
“I was actually thinking of a way to raise money for Save Society, and it’s to have every student at secondary schools across the island donate one dollar . . . . I looked at it; but I am not sure how many students are there in total. But I think it could work, but it’s just an idea at this time because I just want to get Society back up.
“I just like helping people; I like being part of something that helps the whole community, and just like really making a mark on things,” Amber said.