- Less than two weeks after welcoming his greatest pride and joy into the world, his daughter, in January 2012, Richie Mothersill was hauled behind bars and ended up spending seven years in prison.
- But fast-forward to today, the 27-year-old ex-gang member, who has turned his back on a life of crime, is now a proud graduate with a level II certificate in air-conditioning and refrigeration and a grateful and hard-working employee of one of the country’s most successful appliance companies.
- “I always believe in myself that I can be somebody. I never give up; I fight sleepless nights when I have nobody but myself. I am a star today,” Mr. Mothersill declared.
Less than two weeks after welcoming his greatest pride and joy into the world, his daughter, in January 2012, Richie Mothersill was hauled behind bars and ended up spending seven years in prison.
But fast-forward to today, the 27-year-old ex-gang member, who has turned his back on a life of crime, is now a proud graduate with a level II certificate in air-conditioning and refrigeration and a grateful and hard-working employee of one of the country’s most successful appliance companies.
“I always believe in myself that I can be somebody. I never give up; I fight sleepless nights when I have nobody but myself. I am a star today,” Mr. Mothersill declared.
He recalled meeting Denise Adams from the Citizen Security and Justice Programme after being released from prison in 2018, whom he says “was like a second mother to me”.
“She believed in me and put me in a programme at Operation Friendship to learn air conditioning. I finish my programme [and] today I am a [proud] graduate,” Mr. Mothersill said to rousing applause from his batchmates and members of the audience who attended the CSJP graduation ceremony at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston earlier this month.
The young man, whose moving and inspirational testimony evoked a wave of mixed emotions from the audience, said “today I can tell you [that] I am proud of my education”.
“I am a technician; I am installing air-condition units; I am installing water heaters; and I am installing jet pumps. I am a technician – a real technician,” he stated.
He was among a group of 295 men and women from various inner-city communities across Kingston and St Andrew who completed level II and III skills training courses in various areas as well as pre-vocational skills under the CSJP through Operation Friendship.
Some 356 participants completed courses in housekeeping, allied health, food preparation, electrical installation, air conditioning and refrigeration, welding, plumbing general construction, and bartending as well as pre-vocational skills out of a cohort of 432. However, some were unable to attend graduation because of work.
Growing up in the tough inner-city community of Grants Pen in St Andrew, Mr. Mothersill dreamt of success, but readily admitted that he chose the wrong path, which saw him losing out on seven valuable years of his life.
This was compounded when one year into his incarceration he suffered one of the biggest losses in his life – his eldest brother whom he followed, was shot and killed.
While dealing with the pain of his brother’s death, the young man said he knew he had to make a change.
But an even greater factor influencing Mr. Mothersill’s decision to turn his life around was his daughter, whom he had seen only once before being imprisoned.
“While I was in prison it wasn’t an easy task for me. It is something I can’t take out my head, but what bring me through is my daughter. My daughter was born on the 19th of January and I get held on the 27th of January. So while I was in there [prison], she was the light of my heart; she bring me through,” he said.
Mr. Mothersill told JIS News that whenever he visits his daughter, she asks him to stay a little longer and so he wants to be a father that his daughter can be proud of and one whom she will always want in her life.
To young men and women in the inner city, he said, “there is hope; never give up; believe in yourself”.
“Me never was a failure, but when me did a bad me never did a think ‘bout jail; me just did a think about success, but success is not about taking people’s things,” he added.
According to Mr. Mothersill, God had a purpose for his life, or else he would have died.
“I was in a gang called Wildlife before I went to prison… with about 50 members and now about three a we left,” he disclosed.
Mr. Mothersill said his plan is now to encourage as many youth as he can to take the opportunity to better themselves and improve their chances in life.
“Everybody who see me and see what a gwaan for me want to be like me,” he shared while explaining that he has, so far, encouraged two of his friends to go back to school and they are now enrolled at Heart Trust/NTA.
Mr. Mothersill, who had dropped out of primary and high school, said he also plans to further his education in the area in which he has been certified.
Two other graduates who are now full-time employees with the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) company also shared their own testimony.
Trishanna Williams, a 24-year-old single mother defied expectations and successfully completed a level III course in electrical installation.
The resident of Richmond Park in Kingston, who had aspirations to be a nurse or an electrical technician, got involved with CSJP in 2016 and started the course with a cohort of 30 in which she was the lone female and one of five people who completed level II.
“I was told that electrical installation was a man’s world and that I would not make it. But with courage and willpower and with my family and son as my motivation, I set out with much effort to prove them wrong,” she shared.
Ms. Williams’ journey led her to JPS where she learned several aspects of the job and was employed for two years as a technician before she was pulled off the road and given an office administration job.
Stephen Ennis, another CSJP graduate who landed a job at JPS, like his batchmates, had high praises for the programme and expressed heartfelt gratitude to the facilitators and instructors who provided them with non-stop motivation and support throughout their journey.
“This is a bold programme and this is a bold move by the Government of Jamaica to give so many youths from the inner city this opportunity. It has reaped many benefits because many of us here could have been doing stuff that could have made Jamaica worse. I am looking forward to the next step,” he said.
Mr. Ennis said, before the programme, he was home not doing anything and was very frustrated.
“I was very happy for the programme because I didn’t have anything to do; I actually waited a year to be a part of the programme. At first, I didn’t want to be a part of the programme, but after I found out about the benefits, I said ‘me affi get a piece a dis’,” he added.
Mr. Ennis, who also completed level III in electrical installation, extended commendations and words of encouragement to his batchmates who stuck it out and made it to the end.
“Many of us here have gotten a second chance, and I just want all of you who are here to use this as a stepping stone to be even greater,” he said.
Programme Coordinator, Orville Simmonds, congratulated the graduates and commended them for staying the course and making the decision to embark on a journey to improve themselves.
“I am proud to see that you have done exactly that and I commend you, it’s a big achievement. It has not been easy; it has been a difficult road. A lot of times temptation comes in front of you, [and] some of you got suspended from class; but you all stuck to it, and today you are here,” he said.
Mr. Simmonds further encouraged the graduates to continue on their journey of success and to motivate and inspire others around them.
“The life that you have lived, the changes that you have made, continue with it. Continue in your homes, continue in your community. Help one person in your community, help your brother, help your little sister in one special way, help them not to behave in violent ways. Your little brother who is acting up, your sister – help them, not by being violent towards them… . Help them to behave in such a way that they will keep out of trouble,” he urged.
Mr. Simmonds said although the programme will eventually be concluding, the Ministry of National Security will continue to support young people in communities to enable them to improve their lives.
Chairman of Operation Friendship, Reverend Webster Edwards, for his part, also congratulated the graduates and lauded them for accepting the challenge to prepare themselves socially and intellectually for the future and for making significant improvements in their attitude and behaviour.
“Today, as we walked the streets, we come across them in so many instances… transformed, employed, taking their places in the sun and making their contribution to this little rock we call home,” he said.
He also acknowledged CSJP for bringing hope to the graduates and for providing them with the opportunity to make something of themselves.
“What you see demonstrated here today are living testimonies, success and possibilities, of ways in which the large-scale violence and aggression which are occurring in our country can be cauterised,” Rev. Edwards said.