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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Major Richard Reese, has suggested that beneficiaries of the Ministry's Community Security Initiative (CSI) programme consider pooling their resources together and establishing enterprises, once they have completed the programme.

Speaking with beneficiaries of the Ministry's social intervention programme, in the St. Catherine community of March Pen Road, at the Mona Baptist Church in Kingston, on November 4, Major Reese lamented the fact that job placement was one of the main challenges of the programme.

He urged the participants to dispel individualistic notions, as it would be more advantageous to enter into joint ventures, as the programme would not be able to place everyone in jobs.

"We have a very individualistic culture, that the minute we launch out in a business, we tend to want to do it on our own…but as you journey through life, partnerships will enable you," he advised.

Established in 2006, the CSI seeks to create more efficient and effective programmes aimed at improving security and safety, reducing poverty and strengthening social development in critical urban communities. It is open to every resident of the selected communities, at no cost to them. Under the programme, tuition, transportation, uniforms, books, and training material costs are funded.

The Permanent Secretary noted that the Ministry would be placing more emphasis on social intervention and personal development programmes, pointing out that in doing so, communities would not need to be as heavily policed.

"If we could have a more peaceful Jamaica, our cost of living would be that much better….people want to invest in Jamaica, but because of the security cost alone, other countries are more attractive, and in order for us to be competitive, we have to reduce crime and we have to reduce the cost of doing business through security," he added.

He further encouraged beneficiaries to be ambassadors for the programme, and to "motivate others to be the best that they can be."

The Permanent Secretary, representatives from the Department for International Development (DFID), out of the United Kingdom, the funding agency for the CSI programme, members of the security forces, and other stakeholders involved in the programme, met with beneficiaries in the Highlight View and March Pen Road communities in Kingston and St. Catherine, respectively. The event also included a tour of sections of the Highlight View.

The aim was for DFID and other interests to get feedback from beneficiaries, as to how the programme has impacted their lives and their communities; discuss some of the challenges and successes of the programme; and to get a first hand view of the activities being done in those two communities.

Jamaal Moxey, a beneficiary residing in Highlight View, and now an employee of the National Security Ministry for the past three months, spoke of the positive impact that the programme has had on his community.

"I think that the programme is very effective because, first, it limits the level of idleness in the community, because most of the young people in the community are not working and not going to school. The programme gets them off the streets and gets them to learn something," he revealed.

Describing himself as a leader, the 21-year-old, told JIS News that he has been working with the CSI programme since 2006, to get young people in his community involved in the programme. A past student of Kingston College and St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), this young man attained seven Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), and two Caribbean Advanced Proficiency (CAPE) subjects.

However, after completing his studies, Jamaal said he was sitting home doing nothing, as he could not afford to send himself to school to continue his education. He revealed that it was the intervention of the CSI which enabled him to attend college.

Jamaal and other young persons from the community are now enrolled at the Excelsior Community College, where they take part in skills training and academic activities. These include computer repairs and electrical installation; Mathematics, English and Communication Task, respectively.

The CSI also helped with the regularisation of the community's garbage collection service, which is now done twice per week. The Ministries of Health and National Security also collaborate with other agencies to stage health fairs. In addition, an Early Childhood Resource Centre was established, in collaboration with the Kiwanis Club of Eastern St. Andrew to supplement the McLeod Basic School in the community.

In terms of March Pen Road, a community centre was put in place, out of which a catering project will operate. Literacy and numeracy and Information Technology programmes will be offered. The centre will also be a meeting place for residents.

President of the March Pen Road Community Development Council, and a beneficiary of the CSI programme, Mr. Ivan Barnes, noted that over the past two to three years, the programme has served the community well, by enhancing the lives of many residents through education, sports, and social programmes.

Currently enrolled at the Jan's School of Catering in Kingston, Mr. Barnes informed that under the CSI programme, over 115 beneficiaries are enrolled in other institutions, where they are being trained as barbers, videographers, lifeguards and chefs.

Director of the CSI, Ms. Patricia Balls, noted that the programme operates out of eight inner-city communities, that were chosen by the security forces. They are, inclusive of the March Pen Road and Highlight View communities, Matthews Lane and Dunkirk (Browns Town) in Kingston; Homestead, Tawes Pen and Ellersley Pen, in St. Catherine; and August Town in St. Andrew.

According to the National Security Ministry's website, the CSI also encourages actions and partnerships by promoting security and freedom from fear at the community level, by enhancing the reach, quality and regularity of public services, and by including police and justice services. The project seeks to strengthen community capacity for autonomous development actions and to increase the voice of residents/citizens in wider governance, planning and policy processes.

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