Editorial

Hope for windscreen wipers

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

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We have the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) , the information agency of the Jamaican Government, to thank for an interesting and heart-warming story on the graduation of 14 young people from the Windscreen Wiper Intervention Initiative (WWII).

Just over a week ago, the windscreen wipers, drawn from inner-city communities in Kingston, received certificates after completing a three-week course that was intended to help lift them out of poverty.

The WWII is clearly the result of very creative thinking by some sensible people who saw the windscreen wipers as not merely a nuisance but Jamaicans with the potential to rise from the squalor from which many, if not all of them, came.

The nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Jamaica Constabulary Force; the HEART Trust/ NTA; the National Service Corps Programme; the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme, and the private sector, all of which collaborated to make this a possibility.

The course focused on training and mentorship of the unattached young men who wipe windscreens across the Corporate Area. They were exposed to sessions on civics, conflict management, family life management and career development.

The initiative also placed emphasis on behaviour and attitude towards promoting personal growth and development. They learnt to prepare for job interviews and how to write résumés. The trainees will continue in a programme at HEART, which will help them to matriculate in a skill area of their own choice.

We don't imagine that it was easy to pull this course together or for the participants to leave the streets to pursue the programme. Indeed, it is instructive that 26 young men started the course in August but only 14 completed it.

Windscreen wiping is not the kind of employment that we would wish upon anybody's children. They are often exposed to criminals who use the activity as a cover, and to danger from overly aggressive motorists who despise them. But it is honest work.

It is easy to share the obvious satisfaction expressed by the principals of the project at the graduation exercise which took place at Garmex HEART Academy on Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston.

By all accounts, the young men who completed the course were very eager to learn. In his address, Colonel Martin Rickman, the director of the HOPE Programme, spoke glowingly about the level of growth they had exhibited since enrolling in the programme.

“…I am so proud,” he said. “This course is all about understanding and respect — understanding that they are a part of Jamaica and understanding how to do their own personal financial management. We have actually helped them to open their bank account and to get some form of identification, as well as how to dress for success.”

Head of the St Andrew Central Police, Senior Superintendent Jacqueline Coombs, who was also instrumental in getting the programme off the ground, told the young men: “You are more than windscreen wipers and this is something you should believe.”

Mr Collin Brown, one of the windscreen wipers, on behalf of the batch expressed gratitude for the opportunity that the programme presented and “the ability to always elevate ourselves and to make our lives better, as well as our country”.

Congrats all.


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