Peace Day still relevant, says PALS head
General manager of Peace and Love in Society (PALS), Janilee Abrikian, believes there is still a need to honour Peace Day, due to the nature and dynamic of Jamaica's violent landscape.
"Peace Day in its broad sense, is still relevant because we are a violent country and that in many levels of the society, we don't use skills, perhaps because we don't have them, to solve conflict in a positive way," she said.
Peace Day, which is observed on the first Tuesday of March annually was held virtually this year, due to COVID-19. Now, in its 27th year, the organisers believe it is even more necessary to have a peace promoting event. Abrikian shared that the society needs more investment in conflict resolution initiatives geared at young children.
"I think if you invest in teaching children how to solve their conflicts, how to control their anger, they will grow up into adults who can do so. I think you need to take both a long-term and short-term view. The short-term view is a traditional one. You have workshops for teachers, workshops in communities for residents and parents. That is critical because in many cases, very young parents are bringing up children and they don't have the skills of parenting or conflict resolution thus creating problems that are bigger," she said.
She added that there is "a hunger for wanting to change things in the society", which requires greater involvement from citizens. Abrikian admitted that Peace Day was not on her mind, as there was a preoccupation with Jamaica's COVID cases. However, she said teachers islandwide enquired about this year's happenings and she felt compelled to plan the virtual concert, which amassed more than 9,000 viewers online.
Executive Director of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI), Damian Hutchinson, said the organisation partnered with the Violence Prevention Alliance for this year's Peace Day.
"The PMI will, throughout the month of March, be having a number of peace-building activities, primarily in the communities of East Kingston around the theme 'Peace building in the pandemic', where we will be working with communities to see how the pandemic has affected them, how it has possibly caused an increase in conflicts and how they themselves envision how best to treat these new problems and the type of support they need," Hutchinson said.