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Celebrating Mandela: 67 minutes for children in Jamaica

Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years. On 18th July each year the world commemorates the struggle and values of the former South African President through volunteerism and community service.  Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that everyone has the power to transform the world, the ability to make an impact.

This year I chose to participate in “YOGA FOR CHANGE: Lift up not lock up our children”: an event held through collaboration with Jamaicans for Justice with the Lift Up NOT Lock Up Campaign, the Jamaica Yoga Association (JAYA) and Universal Empress (Nadine McNeil) in association with the South African High Commission. 

Yoga for Social Change
Yoga for Social Change
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67 candles to be lit for our children

I joined the JFJ, JAYA and Universal Empress yesterday for 67 minutes of yoga in tribute to Nelson Mandela’s fight for social justice and Jamaica’s fight for the upliftment of her children.

For 60 minutes I stretched and thought that my discomfort paled in comparison to what some of our children in adult lock ups endure. For 7 minutes I meditated to the sounds of birds in Hope Gardens and thought that many of our children are burdened by circumstances that makes the concept of play seem irrelevant. I placed my monetary donation in a jar and expect it to be handed over to a children’s home in Jamaica. The full effect of a candlelight vigil was diminished by the late setting summer sun, but this only highlighted my awareness of the fact that many children will wait for a very long time before they are empowered to let their lights shine.

In Jamaica, there have been numerous reports of children being held in adult lock ups and reports of those being held in state care receiving less than adequate attention for their overall rehabilitation and care. According to Jamaicans for Justice, a citizen’s rights action organisation advocating for good governance:-

“The stories of abuse and neglect of children in both children’s homes and detention centres are too common. We are distressed that the children who are in the greatest need of care and support are getting the least of it,” – according to a recently launched petition by the group.

The JFJ called for -among other things – the removal of children from the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre and police lock-ups and the removal of the designation “Uncontrollable Child” from the legislation as a reason to lock up a child.

Additionally, the group has called for a revision of the Child Care and Protection Act and the Corrections Act, and the creation of smaller rehabilitative centres for children – not juvenile jails.

On the other hand Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna has strongly opposed statements by the JFJ, pointing out that some 148 children have been removed from police jails between January last year and May this year.

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Lift up NOT lock up our children

Here is one video posted by the JFJ that speaks to the situation for some children. While there are some elements I personally disagree with in the way in which JFJ’s message is packaged, the message itself is not to be discounted. I make a call to you to check the reports and judge for yourself.

“Lift up not lock up our children”

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UWI-Cave Hill Researchers Make HIV Discovery

A great accomplishment coming out of the Caribbean! We still have a ways to go with fighting discrimination against PLWHA however.

Repeating Islands

clivelandisBarbados has scored a small victory in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Local researchers have made a groundbreaking discovery – HIV positive people who go on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) on the island, have been showing a suppressed viral load, which means that they have little or no virus in their bodies. To put it simply, says Melissa Rollock, they are non-infectious.

This phenomenon was documented by Professor of Vascular Research at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill campus, Clive Landis, and head of the National HIV/AIDS programme, Dr Anton Best, in a body of research entitled: “Ten-Year Trends in Community HIV Viral Load in Barbados: Implications for Treatment as Prevention.” [. . .] The research tried to ascertain what proportion of the HIV – infected population which is about 1.2 per cent of the adults in Barbados – had a suppressed viral load. They discovered that 26…

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The case for compensating the Caribbean

Interesting piece from Sir Ronald Sanders, former Caribbean Diplomat, consultant, and Visiting Fellow, London University.

Repeating Islands

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This article by SIR RONALD SANDERS appeared in Jamaica’s Observer.

In 1838, British slave owners in the English-speaking Caribbean received £11.6 (US$17.8) billion in today’s value as compensation for the emancipation of their “property” — 655,780 human beings of African descent that they had been enslaved, brutalised and exploited. The freed slaves, by comparison, received nothing in recompense for their dehumanisation, cruel treatment, the abuse of their labour, and the plain injustice of their enslavement.

The monies paid to sláves owners have been studied and assembled by a team of academics from University College London, including Dr Nick Draper, who spent three years pulling together 46,000 records which they have now launched as an Internet database. The website is: ucl.ac.uk/lbs

The benefits of those monies still exist in Britain today. For example, they are the foundations of Barclays Bank, Lloyds Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland. But they…

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Jonathan M Katz: Haiti’s Inconvenient Truth

Interesting report. What are your thoughts?

Repeating Islands

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This article by JONATHAN M. KATZappeared in Foreign Affairs. Follow the link below for the original report.

Was a U.N. diplomat pushed out of his position for airing Port-au-Prince’s dirty laundry in public?

When a major earthquake clobbered Haiti in January 2010, a shift in how international officials talked about solving the country’s ills was already under way. Starting with then-U.N. special envoy, Bill Clinton, the word “aid” had fallen from use, in favor of the new buzzword in international development: “investment.” The term was sexier, more optimistic, and promised something not only for recipients but also givers with diminishing economic and political confidence: a return.

After the catastrophe, investment fever was everywhere, expressing itself in hundreds of millions of dollars poured into efforts to scale up Haiti’s moribund export sector, particularly in low-wage textile factories, tourism, and niche-crop agriculture, such as mangoes. Another directly related trend was…

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An interesting take on social exclusion in Barbados.

Feminist Conversations on Caribbean Life

Most people who know very little about Barbados often stereotype Bajans as passive snobs proud of coming from a country known as “Little England.” What they often fail to recognise is what that Little England legacy means for many Bajans in terms of social exclusion.

Media reports on the launch of the Country Assessment Of Living Conditions highlight the fact the individual and household poverty in Barbados has almost doubled over the last 20 years.  The reason given for the increase in poverty are the barriers to access created by stigma, inter-generational poverty and lack of educational and skills qualifications despite high government spending on education. It was also reported that discrimination based on “age, sex, area of residence, religion, disability, sexuality, migrant status or HIV status”, and that the attitudes of people toward “sex workers, the disabled, Rastafari, gays, the homeless, people living with HIV/AIDS, to mention some…

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