'If not me, then who? A question for the agesMonday, July 26, 2021
For those who live in the midst of extreme poverty, such as exists adjacent to the municipal dump at Riverton on the western fringes of Kingston and St Andrew, it is easy to simply go with the flow.
For, as the popular saying goes, “A so di ting set.”
However, respect is always due to those who resist the flow, those who refuse to accept that 'di ting' has to be set in stone; flowing towards hopelessness, despair, crime.
Ms Kimberley Hibbert's inspiring piece in yesterday's Sunday Observer tells the story of people close to the Riverton dump who have refused to go with the flow and are insisting on charting a course of hope and progress for those around them.
We are told of Mr Krishane Watson, a 29-year-old former student of Pembroke Hall High and Excelsior Community College, who, for more than five years, has volunteered tutoring services to children in his community.
He helps children in a converted homework centre at Riverton Meadows Early Childhood Education Centre.
Obviously, Mr Watson's own experiences growing up in an area sometimes likened to a war zone have shaped him and nurtured the desire to lift others.
Said he of his growing up years: “If you never had your head on your body you probably wouldn't be alive now. I had to use my family members as an example to stay on the straight and narrow. They are hard-working people.”
Mr Watson recognises the harsh reality that “most parents” in his community are unable to read and write and are functionally unable to directly help their children with schoolwork. Hence, his simple, straightforward explanation of why he helps: “If not me, then who?”
Here is a question that countless people all across Jamaica, who are able to help but choose not to, should be asking themselves. Once they are honest with themselves they will follow Mr Watson's example.
We trust Mr Watson will achieve his dream of formal training in the education sector. But, even without that, he should continue to change lives for the better. He already knows that the personal satisfaction is unparalleled.
We applaud Mr Junior Rowe, principal at the Riverton Meadows Early Childhood Education Centre, and all those inside and outside Riverton who are providing support. They have made possible not only the ongoing homework programme, but also targeted assistance, through a summer project, for those who have lost schooling due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“The learning loss was hard, especially for those who were not going to school. When we started with the summer programme, our teachers had some difficulty, but our volunteers have been of great help,” says Mr Rowe.
“They stay back and have one-on-one with the children. Because we have constant Wi-Fi, most children up to university level will come and do their SBAs [school-based assessments] or projects.”
Often in this space we speak of the value of basic community organisation and leadership. What if government agencies, so-called civil society, the business sector, religious organisations, et al were to make a concerted effort, acting as one to guide communities to help themselves in an even more comprehensive manner than is now taking place in Riverton?
Just consider what a difference it would make.
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