JIS News

Twenty-seven year Andre Hylton has faced a number of challenges in life.
The young man, who hails from Jones Town in Kingston, tells a familiar story of inner city struggles. From growing up in a poor, dysfunctional family, where he was often left alone to fend for himself, not attending school regularly, and finally, being placed in state care after the courts found his parents unfit to care for him.
“The love and affection that I needed from my mom and dad was not there when I was growing up… I never knew what love is. I never got a hug or a kiss on the cheek and I never hear ‘I love you’. These are some things that I have never really received,” he relates.
After eight years in state care, Andre was back in Jones Town, and it would have been no surprise if the young man, having grown up without a stable family structure and then facing the less than ideal conditions of a boy’s home, grew up to be involved in crime or other antisocial behaviour. But Andre had a determination to succeed and to not let his unfortunate circumstance dictate his future.
“I was determined and focused…while I was at the boy’s home I was longing to get out because I had a plan to get a good education and achieve my goal in life,” he tells JIS News.
First, he had to find a job but here again, he was exploited, as in many circumstances, he was paid less than was agreed on or not compensated at all. Finally, he was able to land a steady job as a gardener at the Victoria Mutual Building Society branch downtown, and he has worked there for the past eight years.
But this is not enough for the ambitious young man, who wants to earn a better living and help improve the condition of young people in his community.
A committed Christian, Andre hopes that through his involvement in the Government-run Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), he will be able to achieve those goals.
“I heard about the CSJP programme while I was in church, and it was announced that they are recruiting persons for the programme. So after church, I went and signed up for the programme because they outlined to us that it is for training. I knew it is important to get trained, so I was really motivated,” he tells JIS News.
Andre is just one of many young people within 26 communities across the high crime parishes, who are benefitting from the CSJP, which came into being in 2001.
A social intervention programme, being spearheaded by the Ministry of National Security, the initiative is part of the Government’s thrust to stem the rise in crime by improving the lives of citizens.
Among the many aspects of the programme are: enhancing the capacity of the Ministry of National Security, including putting in place an integrated management system, which would link critical departments of the police force, Department of Correctional Services and the courts to improve operations; strengthening the criminal justice system through training of staff and the provision of equipment; and a community action component, which entails crime prevention through the delivery of specific violence prevention services in communities.
This component, from which Andre benefits, seeks to improve the human resource base in the communities, either through educational programmes or initiatives aimed at improving values and attitudes, and re-socialising persons into ways of living that will not involve violence and crime.
According to Community Action Coordinator for the CSJP, Orville Simmonds, the programme, which extends to 15 communities in Kingston, 10 in Montego Bay and one in Savanna-la-mar, involves education and homework programmes, remedial work and vocational training in areas such as welding, electrical installation, food preparation, general construction and early childhood education.
Life skills, conflict resolution and parenting education are also offered, while participants have the opportunity to take Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) subjects.
Mr. Simmonds tells JIS News that the delivery of vocational training started two years ago and the courses offered are sanctioned by the HEART Trust/NTA. “We go according to the HEART structure. We take participants through the Level 1 and into Level 2, because we have recognised that achievement at Level 1 does not go well with employment. Participants are more likely to be employed when they have achieved the Level 2 certification,” he points out.
In addition to training, support is also provided for residents to make contact with Government agencies such as the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) and the Tax Office to acquire Tax Registration Numbers (TRN), “because we realise that if people do not have some of these documents it could adversely impact their enrolment or their engagement in the formal system.”
The programme also seeks to improve community infrastructure, community centres, and other places that residents can meet and participate in positive recreational activities. “We assist in the strengthening of community organisations, be it youth clubs or citizens’ associations,” Mr. Simmonds notes further.
According to Mr. Simmonds, the community action component, which involves collaboration with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Operation Friendship and some schools, is the most dominant part of the CSJP, “because we engage a number of persons, who have been out there in the communities on the street corner doing nothing.” He notes that the goal is “for persons who have completed the programme to be as rounded as possible.”
In terms of getting residents into the programme, he says this is done through community groups and organisations, and the community action officers, who work in the targeted areas. “Through them, persons would have heard about the programmes and would have contacted these officers,” he points out.
He says that interest in the programme is high and efforts are being made to “find the capacity to treat with the number of young men and young women, who want to come in to receive some form of training in a particular vocational area.”
Andre, who is taking five subjects and is also being trained as an electrician, says that the porgramme has helped him immensely in terms of socialisation and providing him with the skill to earn a good income. “I have learnt a lot since starting the programme and I am really proud of myself. This programme is the best I have done so far and will recommend anyone to do it,” he gushes.
“I love the training and I look forward to school every day,” he tells JIS News, saying he plans to go on to advanced levels in training to become a certified electrician “so that I can be an (electrical) manager or maintenance supervisor.
“I will do what ever it takes to proceed further in life,” he states.
He says that a key aim is to help to uplift Jones Town and he is encouraging other young people in the community to join the CSJP programme. “I am committed and I want to achieve, but not only for myself but for others too …therefore, my aim is to also encourage other persons to join the programme and get trained. I want to counsel them about taking charge of their lives,” Andre states.

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