Domestic Abuse in Jamaica: Where are the safe houses for women seeking refuge?

Yesterday someone came to me with a real and urgent need. One of her employees had broken down and told her that she was struggling. The employee had been having marital difficulties and was planning to separate from her husband. Her desire to split was not sitting well with him. He had threatened to kill the both of them and now the woman was in urgent need of somewhere to stay while she finalised alternative rental arrangments that would see her living on her own. I promised to make some calls to see what could be done. I thought it should be easy enough. The woman didn’t have children and she was employed. All she needed was a safe haven for a few days for herself and her clothing. She could pay.

Domestic abuse in Jamaica
Where can we run to? Domestic abuse in Jamaica
Photo courtesy Loop Jamaica

I reached out to my Village, a small community of professional sister-friends. They immediately responded. One, a lawyer, gave advice about restraining orders and reporting to the police and offered her services. Another sister-friend, always practical, suggested AirBnB. That was a great suggestion. I found furnished short term accomodation in Kingston, Portmore and Spanish Town for USD35.00/night and up. Another Villager was able to tell of a newly renovated house in an area where the rents weren’t to high which was available for rent at a modest rate. I shared all this info with the person who had come to me for help on behalf of the woman seeking refuge

 

No Where to Run to: Escaping Domestic Abuse in Jamaica

I was still trying to find a shelter or half way house though. New rentals require a 2 month cash deposit and so the woman seeking to leave her husband would most likely prefer options that didn’t put her too much out of pocket.  Plus options are always good, right?

I reached out to a priest via Facebook who immediately responded. He gave me a number for Eve for Life and a name there. He promised to tug on his own network and get back to me. His response was empathetic and caring and he sensed the urgency of the situation. I called Eve for Life, but the person I wanted to speak with wasn’t available. I was put on to anther person though with a direct cell number. She didn’t answer when I rang, but immediately Whatsapped me back with an apology (she was in a meeting) and a promise to call me ASAP. I called Woman Inc. Several times. No one was available. I left a message via Facebook Messenger with a brief description of the issue and all my contact info. I reached out to the Twitterverse. Tweeps immediately retweeted and were quick with suggestions. Most people suggested I call Woman Inc. I was grateful for the quick responses and compassion that my solicitations elicited. The woman from Eve for Life eventually called me back. She too was empathetic, seized of the urgency of the situation and willing to help. She said she knew of an organisation that operated safe houses and promised to call someone there on my behalf. She told me that she would get them to call me directly.  I  remained grateful.

All of this happened between 8am and early afternoon yesterday. It is early afternoon 24 hours later as I type and I have yet to be guided to a safe house. The woman who had originally come to me advised me towards the end of yesterday that the woman seeking to leave her husband was eventually able to get help from her sister. Thank God. I pray that she is safe.

To be Clear: I am in no way condemning Woman Inc or Eve for Life. These groups are doing good I know. And they operate from a small resource base. I know this. And sometimes it is not possible to help everybody.

But I’m putting my own experience in trying to find help for someone out there hoping that someone more in the know than I can tell me definitively where women fleeing a dangerous situation can go to. I was trying to find somewhere for a woman running solo, with money. I thought it was simple. What if she was broke or destitute with children? That would be a much more complicated situation to deal with.

Tips for escaping domestic abuse

Until I learn of a name and number for a safe house resources, here are my own suggestions for women wanting to and needing to leave a dangerous, undesirable situation:

1. Have some cash…easier said than done I know. I know. But even USD300.00 can buy you some time and space via AirBnB.

2. You need a sister friend at a time like this…someone who can and will accomodate you for a few days. Live good with people, confide and ask for help.

If you have more info re: resources that actually work in situations like this, please share. I will also share what you tell me and we could be saving someone’s life. I was grateful for the empathy, concern and advice. But at the end of the day, I got no real help for this woman.

Tourist Harrassment: Not in a Vaccuum

Published in the Daily Gleaner July 11 2017

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20170711/kelly-mcintosh-tourist-harassment-not-vacuum

Your July 7 edition carried a report with a damning headline: ‘Major cruise lines pull out of Falmouth Port’. The report went on to detail that three ships had decided to omit Falmouth from their itineraries in the upcoming season and that this would cost the town $5 million per month in lost revenues. Tourist harassment was cited as a major factor in their decision to leave us out. The mayor of Falmouth has said that he is working closely with stakeholders to address the issue.
I imagine that the harassment is along the lines of taxi drivers and tour operators and vendors trying to woo visitors off the ships to spend their money with them. Imagine that you are a visitor to this island. This wooing is likely to take the form of a relentless verbal assault, as it were, cajoling you to look and buy in an environment unfamiliar to you. Perhaps you don’t even understand what is being said, but the tone and body language and posturing have now converted what should have been a leisurely stroll into an excursion into hell, where all you want to do is get back to the relative safety of your cabin.
Now put yourself in the place of the average citizen who resides here driving to work in the morning. You stop at the red light, and one or two or even three windscreen wipers swoop down on you. They yank up your wiper blades before you cyaan even mouth a polite “no thanks” and insist on cleaning your windscreen, turning abusive when you indicate helplessly that you have no money to give them. The abuse is verbal (“Yuh too mean, Mummy!” or “Yuh a gwaan like yuh betta dan people!) and is sometimes physical, damage being inflicted directly to your car.
Or let’s say you commute using public transport. You enter the bus park (pick any one), and immediately, the ubiquitous loader man approaches you, verbally assaulting you with a running commentary on how nice you look, and he knows where you are going, and this is the bus you must take, all the while holding your arm and dragging you to his’ bus, literally shoving you into the vehicle.
The emotional and physical strain and the ever-present possibility of personal danger associated with anticipating and dealing with the harassment meted out by windscreen wipers and loader men are not insignificant, and many of us choose our routes specifically to avoid this sort of trauma. I understand the cruise ships’ decision. Too easy.
It is important to understand why this harassment happens in order to eradicate it. There will never be enough police to arrest every single harasser and keep would-be harassers in check. The craft vendors, tour operators and guides, windscreen wipers, and loader men all do what they do out of need. They are grabbing on desperately to the only chance they have identified to provide for themselves and their dependents.

SELECTIVE BENEVOLENCE

Their relentless assault, though, that aggressive push and determination to make you accept and pay for a service/product that you do not need, is directly linked to the culture of patronage that political leaders have fostered. This practice of selective benevolence, meted out to some of the many existing in a state of depravity instead of creating the environment that allows the collective to level up, has perpetuated the fight for scarce benefits and spoils.
Recipients of the largesse are envied by the overlooked, and the resulting resentment feeds a sense of entitlement. “Why not me?” I imagine that the harassers don’t see themselves as harassing, per se. I imagine that this is how they process the situation: “I need. You have. I ought to have. Take what I am offering you and give me some of your money in return.” The harasser’s need trumps any other variable in the dynamic.
Where development plans are crafted and executed, excluding and ignoring the very real need that exists in communities, rest assured that the justification that I have just outlined will prevail. Until patronage is replaced with enabling, until observing and craving are replaced by real participation, tour operators, vendors, windscreen wipers, and loader men will continue to do the only thing they feel they can do to survive.
It is late in the day to halt, and then reverse, these dysfunctional cultural paradigms that have formed and become entrenched through the years of our national development. But to give up now is to accept defeat. We need our leaders to craft and enact developmental plans in harmony with local communities. It can be done.

– Kelly McIntosh is a procurement manager. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and kkmac218@gmail.com.

Millenial Apathy?

Published in the Daily Gleaner September 2016
http://beta.jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20160928/kelly-mcintosh-millennial-apathy

This past weekend, a popular talk-show host, in response to the alarming reports of a rapidly increasing murder rate in our Second City, Montego Bay, shared her thoughts of frustration and alarm in a series of tweets. She suggested some crime-fighting strategies the State could adopt and she called upon students in our tertiary institutions to protest and march, as a stand, I suppose, against what was happening and as a call to change: “Where are the students of University of the West Indies, University of Technology Jamaica, University College of the Caribbean, etc, … you should be staging islandwide demonstration to force the government to act NOW on crime.”
The millennials on my timeline responded. And they appeared, for the most part, to reject in full the talk-show host’s rallying cry.
Others on my timeline, closer to my age (not millennials), bemoaned the apparent apathy of the younger generation and were quick to call them self-absorbed, shallow and apathetic.
I think it is important, though, to go beyond mere labels and seek to understand why this younger generation appears to have no fire in their bellies.
First of all, our millennials are products of Jamaica. What they are today is informed by what they have seen around them for several years now.
One millennial rejected the call to march, stating very definitively that she is not interested in “empty symbolism”. Why empty? Why merely symbolic?

LACK OF LEGITIMACY

The State lacks legitimacy. Our young people see chaos and loss of life when the State, when it suits it, reneges on international agreements on extradition. They see the State failing to fill the void created with the extraction of the don from the community and the resulting upswing in crime. Justice looks different depending on who you are, who you know and where you come from. They see this. They see laws being passed in record time when pressure is applied from alien nations to which we are beholden.
They see governments applying fiscal discipline only when a foreign third-party holds the handle. They hear about kickbacks on national capital projects and then hear nothing more about investigations and repercussions. Coupled with this, they see a reluctance on the part of the powerful and those who want to be powerful to speedily enact campaign-financing legislation.
Our millennials face high unemployment. They see a glorious picture of their country in the document that is Vision 2030, and no further reference to the vision going forward. They hear talk, talk and more talk, but see preservation of the status quo, which excludes them and excludes real improvement unless those with power stand to benefit.
Their apparent apathy is possibly simply a rejection of our preoccupation as a nation with form and appearance at the expense of real substance.
Jamaica reached where we are under our watch. Why do we, therefore, expect our young people to rise up and push back now? They are simply modelling our own behaviour.
Do all Jamaican citizens have an equal voice? Is enforcement of the law predictable? Are our authorities seen to be fair? To answer any of these questions in the negative is to support the argument that the State lacks legitimacy.
Our young people will continue to demonstrate this so-called apathy, being true to our own example in allowing governance lacking legitimacy.

The Link Between (Dis) Order and Crime

Published in the Daily Gleaner June 16 2017

http://beta.jamaica-gleaner.com/article/letters/20170616/disorder-fuelling-crime

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Once upon a time, The Organisation was losing millions of dollars per year in inventory variances. The main warehouse was a mess. Antiquated processes, haphazard putaway systems, zero accountability with receivals, and poor management making collusion too easy were the status quo.
With obscured visibility, both literally (goods were placed randomly and without order within the warehouse) and because of the inaccurate data on the system, thieves had a field day. They deep-dived under the chaos and enriched themselves.
Then one day, we planned and executed an operational turnaround. An automated warehouse management system was instituted and warehouses were racked and binned. New ways of operating led to visibility and accountability. Inventory variances all but disappeared. With the imposition of order, lawlessness had no context in which to flourish.
What if Kingston were clean? What if litterbugs were prosecuted?
What if the horrible, brutish taxi drivers who create third lanes were prosecuted under the law?
What if traffic violations, regardless of perpetrator, were always prosecuted?
What if schools partnered with the police force and the Transport Authority to get our children awaiting buses in the HWT Transport Centre to comport themselves with dignity and decorum?
What if justice was equally swift, regardless of brown or black skin, or address?
What if the flow of raw sewage below Torrington Bridge was dealt with as quickly as if it were flowing in Kingston 8?
Would the crime statistics in Jamaica change?
KELLY MCINTOSH
kkmac218@gmail.com

…Millennial Apathy?

Kelly McIntosh | Millennial Apathy?

Published: in the Daily Gleaner Wednesday | September 28, 2016 | 12:00 AMKelly McIntosh

This past weekend, a popular talk-show host, in response to the alarming reports of a rapidly increasing murder rate in our Second City, Montego Bay, shared her thoughts of frustration and alarm in a series of tweets. She suggested some crime-fighting strategies the State could adopt and she called upon students in our tertiary institutions to protest and march, as a stand, I suppose, against what was happening and as a call to change: “Where are the students of University of the West Indies, University of Technology Jamaica, University College of the Caribbean, etc, … you should be staging islandwide demonstration to force the government to act NOW on crime.”
The millennials on my timeline responded. And they appeared, for the most part, to reject in full the talk-show host’s rallying cry.
Others on my timeline, closer to my age (not millennials), bemoaned the apparent apathy of the younger generation and were quick to call them self-absorbed, shallow and apathetic.
I think it is important, though, to go beyond mere labels and seek to understand why this younger generation appears to have no fire in their bellies.
First of all, our millennials are products of Jamaica. What they are today is informed by what they have seen around them for several years now.
One millennial rejected the call to march, stating very definitively that she is not interested in “empty symbolism”. Why empty? Why merely symbolic?

LACK OF LEGITIMACY

The State lacks legitimacy. Our young people see chaos and loss of life when the State, when it suits it, reneges on international agreements on extradition. They see the State failing to fill the void created with the extraction of the don from the community and the resulting upswing in crime. Justice looks different depending on who you are, who you know and where you come from. They see this. They see laws being passed in record time when pressure is applied from alien nations to which we are beholden.
They see governments applying fiscal discipline only when a foreign third-party holds the handle. They hear about kickbacks on national capital projects and then hear nothing more about investigations and repercussions. Coupled with this, they see a reluctance on the part of the powerful and those who want to be powerful to speedily enact campaign-financing legislation.
Our millennials face high unemployment. They see a glorious picture of their country in the document that is Vision 2030, and no further reference to the vision going forward. They hear talk, talk and more talk, but see preservation of the status quo, which excludes them and excludes real improvement unless those with power stand to benefit.
Their apparent apathy is possibly simply a rejection of our preoccupation as a nation with form and appearance at the expense of real substance.
Jamaica reached where we are under our watch. Why do we, therefore, expect our young people to rise up and push back now? They are simply modelling our own behaviour.
Do all Jamaican citizens have an equal voice? Is enforcement of the law predictable? Are our authorities seen to be fair? To answer any of these questions in the negative is to support the argument that the State lacks legitimacy.
Our young people will continue to demonstrate this so-called apathy, being true to our own example in allowing governance lacking legitimacy.

What if they had thrown a spear instead?

What if they had thrown a spear that morning instead of greeting them with curiosity?

The riverside village was alive with movement. Children were running around, playing games which mimicked the activities of their elders. The boys pretended that they had just returned from the hunt, four of them struggling with the imaginary weight of their bounty. Their shouts of triumph spoke of years to come when they would assume the very real role of protectors and providers in their community. In the shade of the ancient tree, little girls played at grinding flour and making cakes. A few pretended to wash clothes. The women tended their gardens, nursed babies and kept a watchful eye on the children. The men sat in a circle planning their next foray into the jungle.

“Look, look!” shouted one woman who had gone down to the river’s edge to collect water.

As the villagers looked out on the river they were greeted with a strange sight. Floating down the river, on a vessel larger than they had ever seen, were men with skin that had no colour. They were clothed in a manner unlike anything they had ever seen. Several of the men appeared to have one eye which protruded from their faces like a hollow stick. The people were curious. The large vessel with the curious looking men approached the shore slowly, and meeting no resistance, docked and disembarked.

And so it began.

The white men were allowed access to the village
They impressed the villagers with things hitherto unknown.
And villagers from other communities were captured and taken away from their village to become slaves.
And the white strangers did not act alone.

Scene from the movie “Amistad” based on true events

Let’s Go There…

They were facilitated in the first instance by being granted access, and they were then aided and abetted by members of the community, made easy in a context of an already existing system of slavery. The villagers turned over their own slaves in return for various offerings made by the white man. The villagers also went on hunting expeditions with the white man to capture would be slaves from rival tribes, again in return for gifts and protection. As the white men grew comfortable and more greedy, and as captives escaped the slavers’ nets and returned with tales of horror to the village, the villagers realized that the white strangers had taken advantage of their ancient traditions in order to exploit. The slavery that the white men instituted did not resemble what was being practiced in the areas of Africa they sought to plunder.

But it was too late.

Having been granted access, the white man was able to overcome any delayed resistance now offered. His guns, medical knowledge and boats gave him superior fighting power, the ability to actually survive in this dangerous (to him) tropical climate and granted him access where once there was none. Hundreds of thousands of Africans were roughly displaced and cruelly deployed in lands way across the seas. Hundreds of thousands of Africans perished and were killed on the way to these alien territories. Hundreds of thousands of Africans were enslaved and brutalized and murdered by these white men who leveraged their position in a land that was not theirs, a land that they plundered again and again and again to enrich their homeland in Europe.

What if they had thrown a spear that morning instead of greeting them with curiosity?

To be clear: this question is not about casting blame for what was to come on those who were enslaved and murdered. A sequence of events occurred that ended in what has become an inescapable part of history. Access and then support from the village enabled the wicked motives of the white strangers.

Eventually, the slave trade, as the forcible removal of the peoples of African came to be known, was outlawed. Slavery itself was eventually abolished throughout the Americas, and European colonies demanded independence and self rule. Throughout the period there was resistance and revolt on the part of the enslaved peoples. There were also white people who organised and fought against the trade in slaves and practice of slavery.

Anti-colonialists who fought for independence from their European masters envisioned prosperous, orderly societies, where the dignity of the citizen underpinned ever law, every decision and governance on a whole, where cultural norms were truly their own, and not those superimposed by those who had no right to be in charge. Look around though:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa.
Haiti in the Caribbean.
Jamaica.

Is this what self-rule was meant to be?

Once again, centuries later, we have granted men, not of our own tribe, strangers to our village, access. Once again, some of our own village are aiding and abetting the stranger, to the detriment of the whole. And once again, we find ourselves on a course not really of our own choosing, so many of our own existing in unjust and hard and terrible, destitute circumstances.
 Access has been granted by the few who seek to enrich and protect themselves, while giving not one damn as to legacy, nationhood and true freedom for all.

Dylann Roof was welcomed by worshipers in their church Charleston, North Carolina. He was a stranger in their midst, a young white man, an incongruous presence in this old, black place of fellowship. Suppose the worshipers had suspended their prayer and study to probe a little, seeking to determine Roof’s reason for his being there? Suppose access had not been automatic, might the outcome of that terrible day have been different?

Dyalnn Roof. Photo courtesy of MSNBC
The Victims of the Charleston Massacre

Those of our village entrusted with the responsibility of keeping us safe and protecting our interests have granted access in return for their own protection and their own enrichment.

How else does one describe and explain a 1.5% “agent’s fee”payable on national capital projects?

This access has resulted in selective prosperity and mass impoverishment, creating a ripe context for Powerful Capital to set our economic agenda. Repeat after me: “I.M.F.”

Image courtesy of balcostics.com

This access has resulted in a new colonialism by a people who look nothing like us, under the guise of partnership and cooperation. But how can an impoverished, desperate people really partner with a larger, stronger, richer people? The loss of choice lands to these “partners” and potential environmental degradation is what we can count on. That’s not partnership.

Cartoon by Clovis of the Jamaica Observer 

Access has been granted and the stranger in our midst is being aided and abetted by our own. If history is anything to go by, we know how the story ends.

The #ArticulateMinority: alive and kicking. Ignore us at your peril.

He dismissed them as the #articulateminority. He said the “average Jamaican” wasn’t interested in the things that seemed to consume those Jamaicans who agitated from the relative comfort of their keyboards and touchpads. He sought to divide us into middle class, educated keyboard warriors versus the masses that accepted t-shirts, curry goat and hot Guinness. He sought to dismiss us. That FORMER minister of government betrayed his ignorance of a changing world and lived to eat his words on Thursday February 25 2016.

On Thursday February 25 2016, the lowest voter turnout in Jamaican history booted the PNP from government. There was a 3 week period of campaigning, a period where we the electorate were denied the opportunity to hear and interrogate (albeit through our surrogates, the journalists) the plans of those seeking to serve through leadership. A 3 week period of campaigning that saw the ruling party offer up every excuse in the book NOT to debate: “How did he get that big house?” ” He called me a con-artist” I kid you not. Issues of national import, like waste management, environmental conservation, primary and early childhood education, security and health care took a back seat. Sigh.

The usual trappings of mass rallies, on-stage antics, hot, empty rhetoric all to the background music of those god-awful vuvuzelas were never in short supply. According to the pollsters, it was going to be a close race.

Righteous indignation raged on Twitter and on Facebook. “How dare they…” was the common sentiment echoed in cyberspace. I observed Comrades and members of the Showa posse arguing their points of view with vigour during this 3 week period. I saw fence sitters literally make up their minds up to the night before election day. I saw the pictures of purple inked fingers on election day. And I KNEW that the so called #articulateminority could no longer be dismissed. It appeared to me that they…WE…were shaping opinions, were framing the dialogue and we were determining what was important. The Articulate Minority was angry. We were angry at what was being dished up to us. We wanted to plumb issues that were important to us. We believed that our leaders were answerable to us (gasp!) We wanted to see our leaders and would be leaders defend their positions and answer for actions past. And when we were denied, we weren’t happy. At all.

I am eagerly anticipating the elector analysis that will be published in a few weeks as promised by the Electoral Office of Jamaica. I could be wrong, but I think that the record low voter turn out would have been worse had it not been for the youth vote and the #articulateminority. I think that naturally larger base of PNP supporters, unable to vote for the PNP in the face of their display of arrogance, opted to stay home, as they would rather die than vote for the JLP. My assumptions only. We’ll see once the data is published.

The defeat of the PNP in this particular election signals a change that will forever shift the paradigm that defines politicking in Jamaica. And it’s for the better methinks. It is a little harder to bamboozle the electorate, Guys. We have information. We spread information. WE determine what is important. WE tell you what we want to discuss. IGNORE US AT YOUR PERIL!

My own 20 year old daughter voted for the first time, and so did many of her friends. I scrolled her Twitter timeline with keen interest and many “Ohhhhhhs” realising that our very own millennials had strong views about the PNP, JLP and voting.

This government was too arrogant to get my vote. Dem essentially screw di country…and pat demself pon di back fi it…”

I’m uncomfortable with the moniker “Articulate Minority”. I feel as if it reduces us to a temporary, insignificant, curious looking and sounding bunch. It has served as a rallying cry. A few of us gathered to protest during the Outameni Scandal, the genesis of our Christening by the Honourable Former Minister. I recoil every time someone sums us up as such. I much rather prefer #JamaicaTwitter or the more succinct #Twitta.

The #ArticulateMinority is birthed.

Let me be honest: I’m scared about the JLP tax plan. I stand to take home less money per month than I currently do if they implement the plan in its current iteration per the 10 Point Plan. But I’m also scared about the PNP’s continued emphasis on fiscal austerity to the exclusion of growth…won’t everything grind to a halt if all that is done is to extract more and more taxes? And where will that leave us? Passing successive IMF tests allows us to 1) assure the IMF that we’ll be able to repay them and 2) qualify for more loans. I want more than that. I want to flourish.

The morning after the Election, my almost 13yr old son who had stayed up until the end to see who was declared winner (Sure you can stay up, Son…this is history! It happens every 4 years…you can sleep on Friday night) responded to my fears about the JLP plan and my concern about economic growth: “Mummy: if the JLP gets Governance right, and reduces political corruption, then we’ll have growth. Nothing is more important than good governance.”

You hear that, Andrew Holness and the JLP and our Opposition PNP? Nothing is more important than good governance. We’re here to stay. You can’t take our voice. Listen up.

Kiting in Jamaica…A Shi++y Experience.

He called me before 7am, voice thick with distress.
“Kelly: I really didn’t go to business school to deal with this.”

“What’s the matter, my Friend?”
“Kelly. Kelly. Kelly…” And he related this tale of woe to me.  But before the tale of woe, some background and context for you, Gentle Reader.
My Friend is the distribution manager at the main distribution center of a large retail organisation in Jamaica. He has many,many years operations experience under his belt and is the holder of an MBA from a prestigious business school.
The organisation that he works for just invested a significant sum of money, literally millions of US dollars, upgrading their warehousing & distribution capacity and capabilities. The project provided employment for scores of Jamaicans in the inner city community of Kingston where the new distribution center (DC) is located.
My Friend complained. He was the voice of defeat tinged with disgust:
“Kelly. Kelly. Kelly. Dem a fling shit over the wall into the DC.”

Residents of the community adjoining the DC had resumed the practice of “kiting”. Nope. Quickly dispel those images of wide open spaces, breezy days and colourful kites being danced and flown by carefree children laughing gaily.
No.

“Kiting” is the practice of defecating into a black plastic bag (we call it “black scandal bag” here on the Rock), knotting the bag and slinging said bag with its contents away. “Away” means anywhere outside of the slinger’s immediate vicinity: a gully, an open field, or over a wall into a spanking new DC. I was not unfamiliar with this Jamaican urban phenomenon. I knew it by other names though: “helicopter” and “parachute”, the aforementioned used as verbs. “The squatter dem on the gully-bank nuh have nuh water. Dem haffi helicopter (or parachute) more time.”
See a “kite” on the ground there…Careful now!
My Friend had to endure patiently the complaints of the DC’s groundsman: 
Mi nuh really come ya fi pick up shit yuh know, Sar.”

My Friend was squarely put in his place when he called the local police hoping for intervention and assistance: 
“Look. We not getting involved in that. Yuh haffi see if yuh can find somebody ova deh fi call and get dem fi sort out dat situation fi yuh. Wi ah tell yuh up front: wi nah deal wid dat.”
And so, My Friend, MBA notwithstanding, had to engage the Special Community Member given the “contract” for “bushing the yard” and seek help from him. The Special Community Member gave My Friend a name and a number: “Call him. Him ah di don fi di area. Him wi fix it fi yuh.”
Don: Noun. Community Leader who enforces the local code of conduct and rule of law. Exists in so-called inner-city communities characterised by high unemployement and poverty.
In speaking with the don, My Friend reminded him that the organisation had dug three pit latrines for the community as part of the project (see how operational costs balloon in a context of utter depravity?) and that he was kindly and humbly beseeching him to intervene and get the community members to use said pits and to desist from kiting going forward.
I knew that the DC owner (a man well known for being a neat freak) was scheduled to visit, and even as I commiserated with My Friend, I rolled in laughter, tears streaming down my face as I conjured up a scenario where Fastidious Owner Man saw one of these “kites” on the ground and kicked it in disgust only to have his foot rupture the “kite” and sink into the soft squishiness of its contents…
I was the only one laughing. Understandably.
I wondered aloud how “kiting” impacted the “Ease of Doing Business in Jamaica” index…I started rolling again. Alone. Again, understandably so. A clear case of “He who feels it (smells it, sees it) knows it.”
So here we are in 2016 Jamaica:
  • People shitting in bags.
  • Bags filled with shit being flung into the middle of a commercial operation.
  • Commercial operations being saddled with costs that other more civilized jurisdictions don’t have to contend with. So much for competitiveness.
  • The police, whose stated job is to “Serve, Protect and Reassure” doing none of the above. Weh law and order a go? Oh shit.
  • A commercial operation forced to do business with a community don.

And guess whose constituency all of this is happening in…

#JamaicaNice

Beach Apartheid In Jamaica A Polarising Force

Letter of the Day published in The Daily Gleaner, Friday December 4
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I just returned from Grenada, where I spent a wonderful week.
As I sat on their premier beach, Grande Anse, I couldn’t help but compare and contrast Grenada’s approach to beach management and what I see happening here in Jamaica.
Grande Anse Beach, Grenada
The best beaches in Jamaica are open to all – but at a price.
Doctor’s Cave, Frenchman’s Cove, and Bamboo Beach Club are some of our most beautiful beaches that allow you entry once you pay anywhere between J$600 and J$800 per person. Work that out for a family of four.
Having paid that, you are not allowed to carry your own beach chair or picnic.
On beautiful Grand Anse, you pay no admission fee. You can carry your chair. Or you can rent from people who have chairs for rent. Some carry their chair, but the chair-rental man still makes a living from those who opt not to carry their own chair.
You can carry your picnic, or you can buy food from vendors outside the beach or from the one restaurant actually located on the beach.
There is free Wi-Fi along the length of the beach.
Garbage bins were strategically placed and managed, and all locals and tourists used them. The beach was clean. Tourists and locals freely intermingled, giving visitors the authentic Grenadian experience. Note, too, that there are hotels located along the stretch of beach called Grande Anse and the visitors use the same beach that non-visitors use.
Beach police patrol the stretch. There is very little hawking of wares on the beach. There is no loud, intrusive music.
If you need to use a restroom, there are facilities run by the State that you can use once you pay a small fee to the attendant on duty.
Here in Jamaica, it feels as if we deliberately set out to create a polarised society and a context where select people get to enrich themselves at the expense of others. We can all coexist. Look at Grande Anse!
KELLY MCINTOSH

From The Heart of a Champion to Good Governance: Making the Connection.

Jamaica is still basking in the after-glow of extra-ordinary performances of our athletes at the recently held World Championships. “How can we as a nation benefit from the success of our athletes?” is probably one of the most asked questions around town.  “How can we leverage Brand Jamaica?” they ask. 
Courtesy Jamaica Olympics
I practically fell off my couch (along with the rest of Jamaica I am sure) as I saw Usain Bolt stumble in his 100m semi-final race. I had tweeted just minutes before the race that it is impossible to correct any error over 100m, in ten seconds or less. Usain proved me wrong. He corrected his error, won that race and did it in under 10 seconds. Two hours later he went on to win the final race. That victory is attributable to more than physical ability. Usain Bolt demonstrated that he had what we refer to in Jamaica as a “Lion Heart”.
Novlene Williams-Mills, a track veteran over 400m and cancer survivor (VICTOR!), ran the leg of lifetime to inspire the world and set a new meet record. When you understand what cancer and its treatment does to your body, you realise that Novlene too opened up her “Lion Heart” and got the job done.
Much has been made about the sacrifices, financial and otherwise of Jamaica’s track athletes. A nation along with the rest of the world has watched with bated breath, hearts full of hope, lungs bursting along with the athletes as they have over and over again exploded across the finish line, sometimes against all odds.
By their own admission, many of our champions have attributed their success to the fact that they are Jamaican. They have cited their desire to make Jamaica proud and have spoken about their strong desire for victory and their relentless pursuit of it as an extension of them being Jamaican. Somehow, it seems, there is something about this Jamaican-ness that allows the Jamaican track athlete to pursue, with confidence, the top prize. It goes beyond the system that has at its core the ISSA Boys and Girls Athletics Championships that acts as an incubator and forces track talent to bubble to the top year after year. Adults and school children are witnesses to the immense raw talent that exists in our secondary schools. The champions of tomorrow are spotted here and opportunities overseas and indeed right here on the Rock ensure that transition from potential to actuality.
But Jamaica’s prowess on the track transcends any system. We, along with the rest of the world, believe that Jamaica is the sprint capital of the world. We see ourselves as sprinters and continue to dominate over the shorter distances. Our sprinters are our champions. We tell them they are. They know it. We position ourselves as champions of the sprints and plan, allocate resources and execute on our plans to dominate accordingly.
So we too watch in awe as our sprinters dominate and show to all in attendance that “Lion-Heart” that distinguishes the champions from the others that merely run fast. I sit on the edge of my bed and marvel at that “warrior-spirit” that forces the Jamaican athlete to decisively compartmentalise injury and unfortunate lane draws and focus with amazing single mindedness and clarity on The Goal: “mi ah go just run yah, Man!”
And as I marvel at this manifestation of the Lion-Heart and warrior spirit of our sprint champions, I have one question. My question is not “how can we leverage the success of our athletes to the benefit of Jamaica?” My one simple question is this: “How can we leverage the spirit of the Jamaican athletes and demand and obtain effective governance in Jamaica?”
Why is this “Lion-Heart” and this warrior spirit seemingly confined to the track, meanwhile back at home, the same Jamaica that produced giants on the track continues to wallow and indeed spiral downwards in a cesspool of crime, zero economic growth, poverty and political corruption? In the eternal words of Burning Spear, I recall some great men, and I think about our sons and daughters who have left our shores for foreign lands and in doing so have excelled and done well, and I once again wonder about our stagnation and even decline as an independent nation and I wonder how come.
I want to know how we can translate this “Lion-Heart” and warrior spirit to Jamaica Land we Love and conquer the world. Individual triumphs are to be admired and celebrated. But there is no reason why Jamaica should not likewise triumph. Short term fame for Jamaica because of the exploits of Jamaican track stars and any attendant economic spill-offs are not my quest. I want to see the spirit of the track champion rise up in each and every Jamaican and manifest in the form of complete dissatisfaction as to where we are as a country, and see us striving towards and demanding effective governance. Sometimes I wonder if our greatest strength as a people, our resilience in the face of hardship, is perhaps our greatest weakness too. Our ability to survive perhaps allows us to accept mediocrity in our leadership and governance norms, and ends up perpetuating a context where we do not demand more from our leaders.
Courtesy The Jamaica Gleaner
                                           
I am not relinquishing the role of the individual in changing the paradigm. I am not down playing the role of the individual and passing the blame on to Leadership. Not at all. But in national development, there really is no substitute for national vision and policy, and sound, effective governance that eschews corruption and has the good of the nation in the forefront of all its decisions and actions. So why do we, 53 years after independence from Britain, continue to accept the status quo of political corruption which is at the root of all that is wrong with Jamaica? Where is this “Lion-Heart” and this warrior spirit that has birthed champions on the track and yet seems to elude us as a collective? We choose to distance ourselves from the democratic processes and the few that have made the connection between effective governance and national well-being continue to toggle between orange and green hoping for better.
Governance has everything to do with a decision making process that supports a national vision. What do we want Jamaica to look like? How do we envision our lives and the lives of our families in a Jamaica that is prosperous and safe and where everyone has the same opportunity to make good on his or her personal dreams? And what of the quality and types of decisions that national leaders make in furtherance of this vision?
Good governance, effective governance looks like this: it is accountable, it is transparent, it follows the rule of law, it is responsive and it is equitable and inclusive.
Check it: effective governance puts in place structures and systems that make it difficult for political corruption to flourish. And having instituted these structures and systems, effective governance ensures that they are not handicapped, that their role is respected and that they are allowed to work. Effective governance ensures that limited resources are allocated in order to get the best return on investment in support of the national vision. So under effective governance, elementary education is never short-changed for example. Under effective governance, justice looks the same no matter how you speak or how you look or where in Jamaica you come from. Under effective governance, health care is properly resourced and administered. Under effective governance, security forces really do protect, serve and reassure.
Imagine a Jamaica where decision making is not based on box-ticking and appearances. Imagine a Jamaica where national contracts are not formed with personal enrichment on the part of the public administrator/leader as part of the decision making matrix.
Under effective governance Jamaica would not have to waste time seeking to exploit the success a few on the track, because a sound national vision and operating plan and engine would already be at work, ever moving towards national greatness and prosperity.
That we are already a nation of lion hearts possessed of a warrior spirit has been demonstrated. Now we need to wake up and channel our natural propensity for victory into demanding more and not settling for what has been dished out to us.