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'Thank God me get it so people can stop call me alien'

Young man finally registered as J'can citizen after Observer story

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

FOUR months after the Jamaica Observer highlighted his plight of not having a birth certificate, Raheem Powell is finally a registered Jamaican citizen.

Powell received a copy of his birthday certificate at the Office of the Prime Minister, on Monday.

The teary-eyed teenager was overcome with joy.

“Thank God me get it so people can stop call me alien. Mi feel good, when mi never have any birth paper people use to call me alien,” he said.

Last October, the teenager told the Observer that he was “separated” from the formal education system after grade six, due to the lack of a birth certificate.

After the Observer highlighted his plight, the National Identification System (NIDS) expressed an interest in assisting him.

However, the Registrar General's Department had already started the registration process.

Chief technical director in the Office of the Prime Minister, Jacqueline Lynch Stewart, who is heading the NIDS project, told the Observer last November that there is a budget in the programme for undocumented individuals.

“Whenever we see stories like what you wrote, we immediately reach out and assist the individual,” Lynch Stewart explained.

However, she said NIDS does not have the human resources to deal with an “onslaught”.

Last June, NIDS along with the RGD were overwhelmed by the more than 500 individuals who turned up in Linstead, St Catherine, to take advantage of the outreach project.

The project is to ensure that individuals have a birth certificate, given the fact that the document is a must to obtain the national identification card.

Eight other people were also presented with a copy of their birth certificate on Monday.

Lynch Stewart said the next outreach project to get people registered is slated for Gayle, St Mary, on February 26.