Tag Archives: UNICEF

Make a Difference today: Universal Children’s Day

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children” Nelson Mandela

This sweet young girl wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

Today is Universal Children’s Day – a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and goals of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Did you know that children have certain rights assigned to them? Also did you know that as a caregiver you have certain responsibilities toward our young ones? I encourage you to read more about this here – now!

This gentleman, resplendent in starched garb and dignified with age shuffles across the road in Downtown Kingston as he does his part to protect the children.

Children are such beautiful beings, trusting, innocent and deserving of our love and protection. Sadly many adults who have responsibility to protect them are exactly the ones who strip them of their innocence.


 “child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.” (WHO Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention, 1999)

The innocence of childhood

WHO estimates that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence during 2002. In Jamaica, statistics show that more than 12,000 cases of child abuse have been reported since 2007.

You can make a difference! Click here to find out how!

Let us work together to protect the leaders of tomorrow. Start with those children in your home, on your street, in your local community and never ever underestimate your ability to make a difference!

Join me in the quest to make a difference and spread the word of Universal Children’s Day today!

These children play jumprope in the yard of the Trenchtown Reading Centre

Check out this video that was done sometime ago and recognized by UNICEF as an inspiring piece.

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The Unsung Heroes of Caribbean Development

International development is all about civil society and governments pooling resources and efforts to change the conditions which give rise to poverty and inequality, in the process helping humans achieve their potential. Central to it all are human beings. Lives. People. For many of us involved in development work, we often start by thinking about everything we will bring to others’ lives. The solutions we are going to propose. The difference we will make. The interaction seems somewhat one-sided. Occasionally however, a light bulb goes off and in a brief instance of self-awareness, we are willing to admit that our perspective, ideas and thoughts are also being challenged, scrapped and rebuilt in the process. We become as much a beneficiary of the process of development as actors of change.

 Today I highlight a few faces and persons whom I’ve met along the way. For different reasons they’ve left an indelible impression on my mind. Their words changed something in me and flavoured my perspective – for the better, I think. Thanks to each of you for the role you’ve played in advancing the development of your nation – even without you realizing it! (Click the photos to be taken to the related stories).

Lorna Hamilton Henry. She challenged the status quo. She changed me. Lorna having been diagnosed with HIV many years ago, stood up and continues to speak out about discrimination against PLWHA. My encounters and work with her opened my eyes to some of the unconscious prejudices I held and instead transformed me into an advocate of her mission. Today Lorna runs a small NGO – Mothers2Mothers TnT. Check her out on Facebook to see how you can help.
Mr. Mason is no stranger to the Cuso Jamaica community. He is one of the first persons many of us meet. He runs an unofficial orientation session into Jamaican life, culture and music. Neville is an unending reservoir of fact & popular opinion that dates back to very early years. His unfailing courtesy and smile are always appreciated. He has been one of many sources of contextual information as I developed the child access to justice project.
I met this group of enthusiastic young men in Crossroads – while we were doing cutaway filming of graffiti. They were so open and friendly. Reminded me of the innocence of childhood and all that we should be working to protect. It was also a sobering reminder of the obstacles our young men face in society as they navigate into adulthood.


All of us are not holders of PhD’s or recipients of public accolades. Yet this does not diminish the potential for our impact in society. I met this man in Trench Town a few months ago. As he stood in that position by the wall, he related many stories of Bob Marley’s life and the changes the community has undergone over the years. What a sobering reminder of the importance of the elders in our communities. Through their presence and story-telling, traditions and customs are preserved and history is archived for the benefit of future generations.


There is a popular saying that tells us we should not judge by appearances. Orlando Hamilton reinforced this lesson to me in a lasting way. I met him in the Burgher Gully community of East Kingston a few months ago. Orlando is a UNICEF X-Changer. This programme aims to give critical skills to young persons in communities severely affected by violence. The project is a brainchild of Trinbagonian star Machel Montano. Orlando, through his work both at home & abroad, has fulfilled his mission to resist the stereotypes given to persons from inner city communities. He has a remarkable story – one that will be featured very soon on ISLAND VIGNETTES. Look out for it!

Saturday’s menu-“Burgher”, no fries: A youth concert in Burgher Gully community

in-ner cit-y: The area near the centre of the city, esp, when associated with social and economic problems (google)

On Saturday I took the bus down to East Kingston, to a small inner-city community called Burgher Gully to attend the Youth Leaders Concert. I was accompanying a friend – Kate – to the concert which was organised by the NGO – Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.).

After a typically late start, the concert finally got underway. It was refreshing to witness the enthusiasm and talent of children ranging from age 2 to 18. They drummed, sang and acted in two dramas designed to highlight racism and prostitution. The main event of the evening however was the dancing. It was clear that these youth put a lot of hard work in practicing their routines and the outcome was nothing short of captivating. On a point of reflection, I do notice that the Jamaican has a different rhythm and movement of body in response to the beat of music, especially when compared perhaps to persons from the Eastern Caribbean. I was bit disturbed however when a five-year old girl won a dancing competition with some gyrations fit only for a married adult locked in a bedroom. Simply my perspective of course. I must say great job to the MC for the evening who did all in her power to ensure the youth enjoyed an educational, fun and clean night out. The atmosphere was happy, the night sky clear, the breeze cool and gentle with the sound of music & laughter everywhere.

What I found out about the venue was as interesting as the event itself. The space is also the Eastern Peace Centre of the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF). With the support of UNICEF, the Burgher Gully Project was established and assisted 45 youth who were out of school by providing structured activities for them over a three-month period, thus keeping them occupied and off of the streets. Sadly the problems these inner city youth face have not gone away altogether, but it is helpful to see organisations like Y.O.U., D.R.F. and UNICEF continue to reach out. Moreover, it is gratifying to know that my organisation, Cuso International, supports the work of Y.O.U. & D.R.F. through capacity building and knowledge sharing. Thank you to the children of Burgher Gully for a fantastic Saturday evening.