Fostering peace in Barrett Town
The St James district of Barrett Town has seen its share of problems in recent years, but now the community is stepping forward on a positive path, using social interventions and youth-empowerment programmes as its main vehicles.
The Barrett Town Youth Upliftment and Community Development Organisation is one group that is at the forefront of this movement. It has initiated a series of educational and skill-training initiatives for the youngsters of the area.
"The bottom line is that we need to uplift the youth, get them off the streets and reduce crime; and to do that we need to find them jobs and get them trained," reasoned president Elmogene Madurie.
The club has spent the past five months recruiting youngsters for several of their educational programmes offered by institutions including the HEART Trust- NTA, UWI Western Campus and secondary-level institutions.
"We currently have 13 persons who are doing welding and drumming at a training school in Montego Bay and we have 10 people undertaking the film production course at UWI. Also, persons are doing on-the-job training. Everything is completely free," Madurie told Western Star.
"We have access to train at least 20 persons in conjunction with HEART in the areas of housekeeping, food and beverage, business administration and entrepreneurial skills. We have also started the education improvement class, aimed at getting them to improve their literacy so that they can go forward in participating in the skill training programmes."
Counselling and sport activities are also part of the complete project aimed at helping to reduce tension and stress among the people of the community.
The Barrett Town Youth Upliftment and Community Development Organisation has garnered much praised from residents living in the area. Many are thankful for the job opportunities that the club has secured for them, particularly in the tourism sector.
"There are a lot of benefits being derived from the whole programme because lots of job opportunities have opened up in the hotels, like Jewel Grande Montego Bay (formerly the Palmyra Resort & Spa) who are taking in a lot of persons in the community," said youngster Lancelot Lee, the club's vice-president.
The organisation's popularity in the community has seen its numbers growing steadily with each passing week, to the point that its small meeting centre can no longer accommodate everyone. However, the USAID COMET II is stepping in to render some assistance via a special grant.
"I am here just to help them with the dynamics of the proposal for their crime-prevention project so that they can be funded to do their youth development activities, which is a positive step in an area that has its own challenges with crime and violence," outlined John Meeks, senior community coordinator of USAID COMET II Project.
"It's all about crime prevention and how to empower the youth to go forward in life," added Leroy Newman, marketing representative of the youth club.