Ragni TrottaCommunity Leadership
Ragni Trotta, a marketing and media professional based in London, has devoted a large part of her life to helping improve the lives of children. The daughter of two Norwegian school teachers, she is passionate about the importance of Early Childhood Education.
Ms. Trotta is a post-graduate of The London School of Economics and Political Science (UK) with a MSc in Media, Communications and Development. She has accumulated extensive experience from the media, tourism and resort development industries in several countries.
Ragni loves making good things happen, especially for the most vulnerable in our society, particularly children. The mastery and love of reading and writing is, in her view, at the center of all development. Her passion for communication eventually led Ragni to what she views as her latest and greatest accomplishment—Books4Kids Jamaica.
According to UNESCO, Early Childhood Education is vital to the development of a sustainable society. Kindergarten children in Jamaica do not receive books or materials in school, and many parents cannot afford to buy them. Poverty is particularly rife in rural areas, where up to 100% of the children come to school without any necessary books or materials, making learning difficult and badly affecting self-esteem.
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Understanding the challenge this presented to the children’s development—and the teachers’ ability to educate—Ragni Trotta and her husband felt that they had a social responsibility to help. In 2007, Ragni’s late husband founded the organization. He had immense fondness for children and paid all the administrative costs for the charity.
For over a decade, she has worked religiously to promote Books4Kids Jamaica, a nonprofit organization that provides educational books and resources to Kindergarten schools in Jamaica. Under Ragni’s slogan “The future is bright, when you can read and write!”, the program supplies 4-5 year old children a book bag containing a 300-page Brain Quest Workbook, a reading book, crayons and a pencil. These resources provide enough curriculum for an entire kindergarten school year and are equally loved by children, teachers and parents.
For Ragni, it is all about making meaningful connections. In her opinion, a true community project is where many people come together for a greater good, with effective and creative organisers at the center.
Books4Kids Jamaica is a great model of how worldwide tourism networks can focus their efforts around a destination to be a force for good. A stellar example of the “many small brooks make a big river,” the project goes to show what can be accomplished when many contribute a little towards a common goal.
Ragni Trotta contacted her colleagues in the hotel and travel industry, and in 2010, spearheaded the innovative idea of raising money through seven international Online Charity Auctions. In 2016, they broke the annual target of raising over 100,000 USD, auctioning off flights, cruises, exotic luxury holidays all over the world, adventures and unique items to include Usain Bolt’s running shoes.
“During our many schools visits, we meet children who have come to hold a special place in our hearts. Some take our hand, climb onto our lap or whisper in our ears. Too many of them face challenges no child should have to face. For that short moment, every year, we are able to give them happiness, hope, and faith in humanity. Faith that they are special, hope that they can become whatever they want to be and proof that we care. Everyone counts. But not everyone has grown up with the knowledge of that. This is why our program is so important. Not just because access to books, learning and literacy is the gateway to independence and prosperity, but because the act of giving books and creating those special moments is an act of love.” — Ragni Trotta
To date, Books4Kids Jamaica has helped over 85,000 children aged 4-5 years old, across 150 schools in Jamaica donating approximately 250,000 books, valued at 1.5 million USD. The fundamental idea is to increase literacy and promote a positive learning experience and foster the self-esteem of children growing up in challenging circumstances, introducing them to positive community role models and giving them real, practical resources for continued academic success.
The program proved to have an immediate impact. Ragni began to measure the children’s development. With the proper tools to learn, the children showed a remarkable progress. Over 5 years, basic skill tests were administered to thousands of children to measure the effect of the books on basic reading, writing, counting, colours and shapes.
Results showed an overall mastery of 91%, demonstrating that the books provided had a measurable effect on their education. It also made a tangible difference in the lives of these children and their families—it built confidence, fostered academic achievement, and helped to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy, one child at a time.
In addition to providing books, Ragni Trotta is passionate about providing children with positive role models, in particular male role models. In her view, seeing is believing. As such, Books4Kids Jamaica has established successful relationships with many notable figures, including multiple Jamaican prime ministers, such as The Most Honourable P.J. Patterson, The Honourable Prime Minister Andrew Holness, World Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis, Hollywood actor Anthony Anderson, and other political and well known figures who have all participated in the charity’s efforts.
For Ragni, the key to making the world a better place is to simply show up. If you see someone who needs help, what makes the biggest difference is asking people what they need—and asking how you can best help. Even if you don’t have a lot to give, the smallest actions can make a difference in someone’s life. Whether you donate money or your time, helping anyone—in any way you can—is time or money well spent.
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