JIS News

A spirit of brotherhood was evident at the Corletts Road Community Centre Playfield in St. Catherine on Sunday (July 23) where hundreds of citizens and friends of the March Pen and Corletts Road communities, converged for a church service of unity.
The service, which was organised by the region five office of the Social Development Commission (SDC), in conjunction with the Spanish Town Minister’s Fraternal, the St. Catherine North Police, the St. Catherine Parish Development Committee, and the March Pen Corletts Community Development Committee, was aimed at fostering peace and unity in the communities.
Held under the theme: ‘One People, One Community Under God’, the event saw persons of varying ages, character, religious and political persuasions, participating in worship and intermingling on congenial terms.
Member of Parliament for South Central St. Catherine, Sharon Hay-Webster, who represented Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at the function, reminded the gathering that, “we are all accountable to God for the power that he has given to us.” She commended the community leaders for the effort to “cross boundary lines and to ensure that we can celebrate today as family.”
In her remarks, Member of Parliament for Central St. Catherine, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, who represented Opposition Leader, Bruce Golding, noted that, “we have been in and out of trying times in Spanish Town. There are times when we are together and times when we are apart.” However, she implored the community to make this thrust a lasting one.
While discouraging the use of guns, Miss Grange advised the communities to access the organisations and agencies within and around the area, to help them resolve conflicts and to access other social benefits when necessary.
Meanwhile, Assistant Regional Director for region five of the SDC, Dwayne Vernon, informed JIS News that the united church service was part of a six-month plan of peacekeeping activities by citizens, with support from the SDC and the St. Catherine North Police.
The detailed plan includes a summer football competition that has been underway since July 15. The contest, which has been evoking much enthusiasm, features 18 teams, representing all areas within the community, as well as an SDC and a Jamaica Constabulary Force team.
Additionally, Mr. Vernon said that there would be a canal party and a health and small business registration fair in August and a netball competition in October. He further mentioned that the SDC has trained 25 youths to conduct research for a demographic profile of the community. He said that this profile would “help the commission to develop a skills data bank, as well as inform future interventions.”
He further indicated that citizens would benefit from a fruit and vegetable-farming project, which would be carried out on lands owned and made available by the Bernard Lodge sugar company. These, among other plans to foster peace and prosperity, will be implemented up to December. Subsequently, the impact of the strategy will be evaluated and improvements made for the continuation.
Meanwhile, a steering committee comprising representatives of the communities has been set up to lead the charge in establishing a community-based organisation.
Just recently, the March Pen and Corletts Road communities were regularly featured in local news for the high crime rate, which characterised the politically divided communities, and forced some residence to evacuate.
Since the SDC, the JCF and other supporting bodies have intervened, and rallied citizens to help themselves out the negative mould, conditions have noticeably improved. The programme is being implemented as a pilot project, after which interventions in other inner-city communities in St. Catherine will be modelled.

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