Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | October 14, 2009
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Greater St Catherine residents seek better life
Mark Beckford, Staff Reporter

Seventy-seven-year-old Tabitha Cockins waits to be processed by a representative from the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education during a health fair held at the Angels Plaza in Spanish Town, St Catherine, recently. Residents who turned out for the fair called on their representatives to do more to improve their standard of living. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

All some residents of greater St Catherine want is a chance to live a better life. They, however, think that their chances at a higher standard of living are being stifled by a system that does not care much about them.

Greater St Catherine represents the area of the parish outside the municipality of Portmore.

André Matthews, 22, of Angels Crescent district, St Catherine, channels this thought. At his age, he does not have time for politicians, but, in the same breath, is calling on the representatives of his community to do certain things to alleviate the poverty in his district. These include building a community centre, a trade centre and providing jobs.

"We need jobs and a community centre. If we follow up this thing, we can get the youths dem organised," Matthews told The Gleaner. "Nuff youths nah go school maybe because them people nah do nuttin fi dem. Nuff people have the talent but dem nah di help. Nuff a dem nah no birth paper so dem caan get fi go HEART/NTA. The job situation is very bad and people - the youth dem haffi a rely on ackee selling fi survive."

Trying to engage the young

Despite all the challenges which he sees, Matthews revealed that he and other persons are trying to get young people in his community engaged by starting a youth club.

Joan Whitely, 33, is another St Catherine resident disillusioned with the authorities, but she is determined to keep pressing on with life. Whitely, who is unemployed, is calling on her representatives to assist her community of Damhead.

"The roads are bad right now - we need a community centre as well. A community without a community centre is not a community. We don't have a basic school, and we need a justice of the peace. When de pickney dem fi go basic schools, dem haffi go way down de road," she said.

Whitely, who has two children of her own, aged eight years and 15 months old, said children from Cow Market, Angels Farm and Reid Mountain, all have to attend school in the Old Harbour Road area which makes it harder for the toddlers, some of whom have to traverse by public transport.

Whitely is stressing that residents are willing to offer any assistance to the representatives to make their lives better.

Baldwin McKenzie, governance coordinator for Greater St Catherine at the Social Development Com-mission, said his work in the community had shown that unemployment and bad road conditions were some of the pressing concerns.

"One of the greatest problems is unemployment and, as a result of this, there are a lot of young people out there who are not doing anything and they are frustrated. "

Brigette Bonner, of Reids district, hopes that things will change in the future. Her other concern is what she describes as the lack of water in the area. While there is a pipe in her area, she opines that she will go months without any water and they have to carry water in buckets.

She wants all this to change, and said she will be very happy if it does. Until then, she waits.


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