Where do we turn for healing?


Where do we turn for healing?

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, November 30, 2020

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It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Like most Jamaicans, they may have gone to church, then returned home to prepare lunch, then sat with family to eat and relax. This may have been the scene when gunmen invaded the home of 81-year-old Iciline McFarlane and killed her and her two grandchildren, 10-year-old Christina and six-year-old Mishane McFarlane, two Sundays ago.

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says that investigations reveal that this was a contract killing, apparently ordered by a gang leader allegedly in search of a connection to the family.

We ask ourselves: How can anyone look at an elderly woman and two little children and mercilessly end their lives? What makes their hearts so cold, their minds so warped? Even as we call for justice, we have to get to the root of the series of horrific acts over the past week, the most recent being the murder of Mandeville businesswoman Marcia Chin-You, hailed as a community supporter.

Ironically, we are now observing 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence from November 25 to December 10. November 25 was recognised as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW).

We have to be playing advertisements warning young girls that it is not natural for adult men in a household to be sexually abusing them. Imagine, these big men who should be out in the yard planting food for their family are inside molesting young children. I remember the play Sleeper, by Trevor Rhone, dramatising the laziness of men in a household and the mute acceptance of their women. Towards the end of the play we saw the son taking up the same habits of the father.

Poor parenting results in a lifelong handicap of no self-discipline and no work ethic. In the book The Road Less Travelled by M Scott Peck he explores the downward spiral of such lives. These damaged human beings have no dignity, have no respect for themselves, and therefore none for others. They become a plague on their families and their communities.

Law enforcement must go hand in hand with social healing, as promoted by Dr Elizabeth Ward's Violence Prevention Alliance and Horace Levy's team at the Peace Management Initiative. Kudos to the creators of the YouTube series Jamaican Dadz — Dennis Brooks, Marlon Campbell, Floyd Green and Garth Williams. How refreshing to see the joy they take in raising their children.

We can be part of this healing by participating in IDEVAW activism as recommended by Professor Opal Palmer Adisa, director of Institute for Gender & Development Studies Regional Coordinating Office (IGDS-RCO) at The University of the West Indies. Some of these include:

* December 2 - International Day for the Abolition of Slavery: The enslavement of Africans was an egregious and violent act. Hug yourself for surviving the violence and not passing it on. Read their Facebook post on gender-based violence (GBV) against women during slavery.

* December 3 - International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Read their Facebook post on deaf women and GBV. Speak out about GBV against people with disabilities.

* December 5 - International Volunteer Day for Social and Economic Development: Volunteer one hour of your day helping a woman or child who has been victimised and or provide them with a care package.

* December 9 - International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime: Read their Facebook post on human trafficking in the Caribbean and share content.

Please try to participate. If you can change one heart and comfort one weeping soul then you are a healer.

Disabilities Awareness Week

Today also is the beginning of Disabilities Awareness Week with several activities being organised by the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI) to which the Digicel Jamaica Foundation will be lending its support. One that is special to me is the reopening of the former Pear Tree River Primary School in St Thomas, which the MOEYI and the Digicel Foundation have transformed into a special needs technical-vocational school for students 13 to 21 years old. The school will be equipped to teach students life skills in agriculture, cooking, sewing, carpentry, tiling, and data entry. This is in addition to the Lyssons School for special needs, which is now at capacity.

On Thursday, Special Olympics Jamaica will host a webinar at which it will announce that one of Jamaica's most outstanding athletes, the amazing Alia Atkinson, will be its brand ambassador.

Broken roads

The videos from Gordon Town and Irish Town are frightening – huge rocks careening down the side of the hills and blocking roads. After the recent heavy rains National Works Agency (NWA) announced that it will take a trillion dollars to repair and rebuild these roads ( The Gleaner, November 27, 2020).

Prime Minister Andrew Holness explained that Gordon Town Road was initially a pathway to the coffee plantations and not really engineered to be a major roadway. The lure of those mountains has been irresistible and so a solution must be found to make these roads viable.

We note the National Integrity Action's call for better governance of the NWA. This is even more important now that our strained budget may have to accommodate the astronomical cost of repairs. In the meanwhile, the authorities should take a second look at building applications for such areas.

Dry Harbour Mountains dilemma

It seems that Holness, anxious to create more jobs on our north coast, after the pandemic has left thousands jobless, overruled the National Environment and Planning Agency's (NEPA) decision not to give a permit for limestone mining in the Dry Harbour Mountains on the north coast. He explained that 70 guidelines have been prepared for the operators, and that if they were breached he would order them to cease. However, with environmental experts weighing in on the side of NEPA, it seems that his decision may have to be reviewed. 'Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown', especially in these tough times.

COVID-19 concerns

They call it 'COVID fatigue', these careless people who refuse to wear masks and break curfew. However, their fatigue is nowhere near that of our health workers who are doing double and triple shifts and putting their lives in danger as they care for COVID-19 patients.

Recent numbers show over 50 new cases being reported each day and four deaths each last Tuesday and Wednesday. Up to last Friday 77 COVID-19 patients have been hospitalised, of whom eight are moderately ill and seven are critically ill. Western parishes, which had previously been doing well, now have the highest rate of infections: Hanover, St Ann, Westmoreland, St James, and Trelawny.

As we balance life and livelihood, businesses are grateful for the additional hour before curfew during December as statistics show that up to 60 per cent of sales are made during the Christmas season. Please shop local to help keep our businesses open and save jobs. Always remembering to wear your mask and keep your distance.



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