Monday, May 16, 2016

Parenting, strategising for nation building

Observer column published  Monday 9 May 2016 by Jean Lowrie-Chin

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Archbishop Elect Most Rev Kenneth Richards - Observer Photo
I spotted then Bishop Kenneth Richards sitting quietly at the rehearsal for the National Heroes’ Day Awards event last October.  When I said I did not know that he was receiving an award, he answered proudly that it was not he, but his mother Ms Holdroyd McDonald, who would be receiving a Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service in the field of nursing. 

Nurse McDonald has set a great example for her six high achieving children.  She has been with the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade for over 30 years, and at age 79, still attends the Senior Citizens’ meeting at the Spanish Town Cathedral every Tuesday to teach its members crochet.  “Crochet is my passion,” she says.  “It keeps the members occupied.”

Of her son who will be installed as the seventh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kingston on July 6, she says he has always been the kind of person “who doesn’t put anyone down.”  “He makes people feel lifted up,” she says, “especially the youth.”  She chuckled when I mentioned a newspaper interview where she showed her displeasure to the young Ken when he expressed a desire to become a sideman on a truck. “I am always praying for my children,” she told me. “I expect them to give their 100 percent.” 

As we contemplate the many gangs wreaking havoc on our country, we know that if more children had a mother like Nurse McDonald, they would not become such easy prey for gangs. 

Shared responsibility
In a conversation with senior police officers and concerned citizens last week, we noted that the largest youth club in Jamaica is the Police Youth Club, as our many good officers volunteer their time to help guide our children. We cannot continue to blame the police for crime: families, government, community, church and school share the responsibility to restore peace and justice in our country. 
We are still trying to come to terms with the brutal slaying of missionaries Randy Hentzel and Harold Nichols. We heard the criticisms about the Police Commissioner’s press briefing on their investigations, but we should realise that such incidents which became headlines in the US are all the more tragic because these two good men had been reaching out to the poor of our country. 

Corporal Judith Williams
The country felt a similar sense of revulsion when we learned of the cold-blooded slaying of a stalwart policewoman Corporal Judith Williams. We could not hold back the tears as her daughter spoke of that cruel morning, the same morning that she had to sit an examination. She said she knew that her mother would want her to be strong, and so she did the examination and scored 98 percent!  How hard it must have been for those children to face Mother’s Day yesterday without such a mother.

These devastating reports should motivate those of us who have done well in this country, to resolve to do more for the healing of our country.  There is a rumour that the missionaries’ deaths may have resulted from being innocently caught up in a land dispute relating to a house they were building for a needy person. Let us promote mediation training, and let us look to the Government to sharpen the mission of the Social Development Commission to restore the hope of our people.

At a recent meeting of the St. Andrew Justices of the Peace (SAJP), Supt. Norris Rhoomes of the Constant Spring Police said such training had started at his Station with the assistance of the US government and invited us to participate.  At the Stella Maris Foundation, many a dispute has been settled because of such services, and we have seen Grant’s Pen evolve into a more peaceful community over recent years. 

Members of the business community will also have to join together to resist extortionists and instead fund opportunities to train and uplift our unattached youth. Many years ago when the old ‘Things Jamaican’ factory was being converted into the Horizon Park Remand Centre, the youth of S-Corner demanded of me, “Miss, why the government building more prison and not more factory to give us work?” 

Last year, a group of young men on Orange Street were hauled in for making knock-offs of Clarks shoes.  Luckily, the police saw the talent in these young men and referred them to the Citizens Justice and Social Programme (CJSP) of the Ministry of Justice.  Now, through the mentorship of Professor K’nife at Mona School of Business and the Jamaica Business Development Company (JBDC), they are manufacturing their shoes at JBDC facilities on Marcus Garvey Drive, and the equipment funded by Digicel Foundation will be theirs once they are fully trained and their business legally established.  
Dr K'adamawe K'nife

Jamaica has many well-meaning folks, agencies and organisations.  Our challenge now is to streamline and focus our programmes so they can have the widest possible reach. Some of us are so passionate about Jamaica that we are overworked, while others have such a sense of entitlement that they will not lift a finger to volunteer for the empowerment of others.  

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