Shaneca Smith pushing farmers to forefront in St Elizabeth
Shaneca Smith has been making a big difference in the lives of farmers and those facing challenges in her home parish, St Elizabeth.
It all began with a desire to showcase the agricultural pursuits of her parishioners.
Smith, a 34-year-old mother and farmer, started the vlog ‘Farming in St Elizabeth’ to highlight the resilience and challenges faced by farmers in the Breadbasket Parish. That labour of love has since proven to be a source of inspiration.
Her stories piqued the interests of agriculture ministry officials throughout the Caribbean, with invitations streaming in for speaking engagements with young people such as at the Youths in Agricultural World Youth Conference staged by HEART Trust/NSTA.
“Through my YouTube channel, I have helped many farmers with black drums, irrigation systems, water pumps, spray pans, seeds, etc,” Smith said in a Gleaner interview.
Soon, requests started pouring in to Smith beyond the realm of farming, including from a mother of nine living in rural Jamaica seeking tablets for her children.
“The Most High had other plans, and that video went viral on YouTube. From there, others started reaching out,” said Smith, who undertakes monthly distribution of food supplies sponsored by overseas church in Canada.
Born in Bramington Hall in the parish, she said her life is anchored on philanthropy to persons who have fallen on hard times – in St Elizabeth or farther afield.
The B.B. Coke past student said she left high school without a Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate pass, sat evening classes, and scored passes in five subjects.
Sharing her journey to independence, Smith said she had always had a burning desire to be her own boss.
“I built and opened a bar, but I still wanted to do more, so I started travelling to the United States to purchase new and used clothing and ship them back home to start a new business venture,” she said.
Fast-forward to 2022 and Smith is now happy at the scale and scope of her outreach.
So far, she has built three houses for families in need, including a three-bedroom home for the mother of nine. Two Sundays ago, she handed over a one-bedroom board house to a 70-year-old man who had been living in an abandoned building for nearly 40 years.
Smith, who has been issuing care packages weekly in poor communities across rural Jamaica, said her motivation is seeing heart-warming smiles on faces.
“Helping others has really changed my life in a profound way. Being able to see the joy on the faces of the recipients is something that always fills my heart,” the good Samaritan said.
Her nine-year-old daughter, who is involved in her philanthropy, is also learning life lessons on sacrifice and inspiration.
Smith’s projects are mainly funded by expatriate Jamaicans and returning locals as well as charity organisations based in Canada and the United States.