JIS News

Residents of Old Harbour and surrounding communities in St. Catherine, came out in their numbers on Wednesday (November 25) for the annual Old Harbour Development Area Committee (OHDAC) community expo.
The event was held on the grounds of the Portmore Community College’s Old Harbour campus under the theme: ‘Community Empowerment For Nation Building’.
More than 30 exhibitors from the public and private sectors mounted displays, through which residents were able to gather information and benefit from services. Among the exhibitors were the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), Passport, Immigration and Citizen Agency (PICA), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Coalition for Better Parenting, Inland Revenue Department, and the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
Chairperson for OHDAC, Mr. Randy Finnikin, said that the expo, held since 2003, “is our primary activity in terms of providing facilitation, empowerment, networking and collaboration between Government, non-government agencies, community-based agencies, other stakeholders and residents at the grassroots level.”
He said that a major undertaking of OHDAC is a Big Brother/Big Sister Mentorship Programme where persons are invited to partner with the guidance counselling departments of schools to mentor students.
“We are very proud of that and we are inviting (persons) from the development area to sign up. We would like to see how we can engage ourselves to see how we can serve our little brothers and our little sisters in the schools today,” he stated.
In his remarks, Chairperson for the St. Catherine Parish Development Committee, Earl Hyde, said that it has become increasingly important for citizens to take responsibility for the development of their communities.
“We have a very important role to play and once we fulfill our duties and responsibilities, then our country will go forward from strength to strength. The time has passed when we are going to sit and say this is not my responsibility, it is the Councillor or the MP (Member of Parliament) or the Government. We are the people who are going to make the difference, and everything that we do within our districts and communities will push this country forward and will help us to overcome the obstacles with which we are faced,” he said.
His Worship the Mayor of Spanish Town, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, endorsed these comments, urging community members to unite and put initiatives in place that will be of benefit to residents.
“Too often, we look only towards our elected representatives and the Government… they have a role to play but the community also must be self-sufficient and independent in approaching some of the problems that it faces,” he said.
He stated that OHDAC is a model committee that the entire island should emulate.
OHDAC was established on February 27, 2002 as a non-profit community based-organisation, which represents six communities – Old Harbour, Old Harbour Bay, Bartons, Brown’s Hall, Ginger Ridge, and Bellas Gate.
The expo is the main activity for OHDAC and is in keeping with the Social Development Commission’s (SDC) Community Month of activities, which is celebrated in November of each year.

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