The utopian constituencyTuesday, July 27, 2021
BY SAMANTHA RADWAY
My constituency is well on track to being the microcosm of the utopian Jamaica of 2030 — the place of choice to live, work, and raise families.
Sound social, economic, and environmental practices informed by primary and secondary research relevant to the constituents, and which have been implemented without bipartisan favour and consideration, have contributed to this success story.
In my constituency, unlike most in Jamaica, social ills, such as crime, unemployment, poverty, drug abuse, etc, are almost non-existent because socio-economic intervention and developmental projects have been implemented and have been effectively monitored to produce great results.
Based on ongoing needs assessment surveys, opportunities have been created for at-risk youth to learn social skills as well as skills that will make them employable. And through collaborative efforts between local and foreign investors, many of our school leavers have been placed in jobs. Additionally, those who seek to become entrepreneurs have been given the requisite training, paired with mentors, and have been given financial and technical assistance to establish and maintain their businesses.
It has been a relief to see the number of households on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) steadily trending down because people have been empowered to earn. The income may not be great, but they are doing backyard and container gardening to supplement their earnings and the community spirit of caring and sharing is thriving.
Speaking of thriving, the constituents have embraced the Ministry of Health and Wellnesses' initiatives, especially as a result of the added push by the Member of Parliament. The buy-in to the initiative was easy with the establishment of a safe fitness park, community-trained and -employed health and wellness coaches, and reduction of tax on exercise equipment and healthy foods.
Who would have guessed that after a few months so many of the constituents, who had been suffering with obesity and the related health issues of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, would show record improvements due to a reduction in their weight? If you don't believe, check the records at the community clinics, which will show that the health facilities in and around the constituency are not overly burdened, even with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, because the constituents adhere to the mantra: “Your health is your responsibility.”
In my constituency, an upcoming election is not signalled by frantic road cleaning and patching by people who are obviously clueless about what they are doing but become qualified for the job based on the colour cap, shirt, and wrist band that they happen to prefer. Road cleaning and repair are done regularly. As a matter of fact, the constituents have agreed to the proposal that each property holder cleans the adjoining sidewalk, and those who do not will have the cost added to their property taxes.
What is in for the constituency? Other than to eliminate the 'hustling' mentality and improve the aesthetics of the community, there will be developmental projects. The funds that are usually allocated for the roadside cleaning projects are used to fund more sustainable environmental and developmental projects. For example, the establishment of the cottage industry and skills training centre, the nursery for seedlings for the Eat What We Grow project, the health and wellness programme, and the technology initiative which will see all members of the constituency being technology and information literate over the next two years.
On the matter of elections, it will be difficult for the constituents to decide who to vote for because members of the political parties work so closely together, it is often difficult to say who is doing what. Instead of “scarce benefits and spoils” and popularity, the decision will be based on each party's plan for social and economic development.
In my constituency we can boast that we know our Member of Parliament because we do not only see him/her on TV or whenever there is a photo op in the community, or worst-case scenario when election is near. We know our councillors and we know that our concerns are aired at the municpal corporation meetings because we get feedback. That is why none of our gullies are dumped up with construction material and refuse, and there are no irregularities surrounding the passing of building plans and granting of permits. Our people have integrity.
My constituency is diverse, and we have come to accept and appreciate diversity. So, while we understand our rights as citizens, we also acknowledge our responsibilities. Consequently, our churches and civic groups work together to address the needs of the communities. There is no competition for members, and disparaging other groups or showing favourtism, such as giving positions to people based on affiliations; that's a no-no.
As citizens we keep our environment clean and we are the first constituency to have implemented a system whereby we separate our garbage for recycling.
You may think you are in a strange place because you will not see men in trousers so tight or so loose that they wear them at their knees, or women with eyelashes so long that they cannot see where they are going. You will not find skin-bleaching products in my constituency because we are educated to understand the dangers of skin bleaching.
But what you will see is an almost equal amount of local- and foreign-owned business because the locals are given preferential treatment to establish their businesses and they are well supported. Additionally, the goods being sold by locals and foreigners are checked against established standards, so our consumers get good value for their money and the workers are treated with respect.
The police in my community are not there to only harass motorists, especially taxi drivers; they never asked “lef' or write?” Yes, the police respond promptly because they have enough working vehicles at the police station. What? No, turning up at a crime scene an hour late never happens!
Of course, all households have the basics, such as Internet access, electricity, and running water.
Yes, my constituency is in Jamaica! I wish you could visit, but I'm stiill waiting for it to become a reality.
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