- Horace Bailey grew up in a depressed urban community, but was determined not to become just another statistic.
- Unemployed and in desperate need of an income, the now 24-year-old resident of Majesty Gardens more popularly known as ‘Backto’ decided to load buses on the streets of Kingston.
- The ambitious dropout was introduced to the Citizens and Justice Programme (CSJP) and later enrolled in the HEART Trust/NTA programme.
Horace Bailey, like many other young Jamaican men, grew up in a depressed urban community, but was determined not to become just another statistic in the trenches of inner-city life.
For several years though it seemed this was the path the Haile Selassie high school dropout was on.
Unemployed and in desperate need of an income, the now 24-year-old resident of Majesty Gardens more popularly known as ‘Backto’ decided to load buses on the streets of Kingston, an occupation which he held for two years.
He notes that while this was a dangerous job as many of his co-workers were killed, he was determined not to turn to the gun for his livelihood.
“I knew it was a matter of survival and I did not want to turn to the gun or get involved in a gang,” he explains.
A “loader” is a rough-and-tumble occupation, which involves jostling for passengers at terminals or along the various bus routes, and encouraging them to board buses, or route taxis.
With advice and support from his parents and the determination to make them proud, the ambitious dropout was introduced to the Citizens and Justice Programme (CSJP) and later enrolled in the HEART Trust/NTA programme.
“I always told my mother that I was going to make something of my life and that my future did not stop with loading buses…my father always encouraged me to go and enrol in the HEART programme but at first I was unwilling, however I decide that attending HEART was my way out of poverty as I would be able to secure a better life through education,” he says.
Now equipped with Level 3 certification in Electrical Installation, Mr. Bailey praises the CSJP for changing his life and selecting him as one of the interns to benefit under an agreement with the Jamaica Public Service.
Through the partnership, Mr. Bailey is among a group of 20 who will be gaining valuable work experience from this joint venture. The $5 million will see the group receiving on the job training over six months.
Through the CSJP, the soon to be JPS interns, received Levels 1, 2, and 3 Certification in Electrical Installation and Maintenance from the HEART Trust/NTA.
With a brighter outlook on life, Mr. Bailey boasts that he is now looking to soar to new heights.
“Today, my story has changed. I can proudly say that I am an intern with the Jamaica Public Service Company. Who would have known that a bus-loader, yes me, would have been selected to attend Gordon House as a guest of the Minister of National Security in March 2013 for his budget presentation as an intern at the JDF,” he says.
The group have also successfully participated in the CSJP/JDF internship programme and will now gain further experience in the world of work through this initiative.
“CSJP gave me the opportunity of a lifetime when they decide to send over 400 youngsters on internship with the JDF. (There) I learnt discipline, punctuality, teamwork, good work ethics and was exposed to leadership training. The experience was a life changing one,” Mr. Bailey says.
CSJP Programme Manager, Simeon Robinson informs that the Programme primarily targets the most at-risk youth who have dropped out of school, are from dysfunctional families, or are in conflict with the law.
Since 2001, he said, the Ministry of National Security, through the CSJP has positively impacted the socio-economic prospects of 8,707 inner-city youth through vocational skills training, tuition support, job placement and employment internships.
He notes that partnerships among civil society, and non-governmental organisations, are pivotal to the success of these initiatives.
With respect to the cohort that will benefit from the JPS initiative, Mr. Simeon notes that apart from being qualified, they also posses positive values and attitudes for the world of work.
“JPS can be assured they are getting the cream of the crop by way of example, the selection criteria, their punctuality, their attitude and behaviour,” he says.
Mr. Robinson is encouraging more companies to come onboard, noting that the initiative will redound to the benefit of all. “We have in excess of 3,000 youngsters in our database who are ready to be engaged either through permanent employment, internships or on the job training programmes,” he says.
Director, Regional Operations (East), JPS, Omar Sweeney, said the agreement is mutually beneficial as the interns will gain valuable work experience, while the organisation will benefit from an untapped pool of talent.
CSJP is a multi-faceted crime and violence prevention initiative of the Ministry of National Security, which focuses on building community safety and security.
The programme provides crime and violence prevention services to 50 vulnerable and volatile communities, spanning eight parishes. It also contributes to the institutional strengthening of the Ministry of National Security.