Gang-violence victim launches tree-planting project in western Jamaica


Gang-violence victim launches tree-planting project in western Jamaica

Thursday, October 22, 2020

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CANTERBURY, St James -Seventy-three-year old St James businessman Carl Hill, who has been marred by the infamous Montego Bay tribal war in the 1970s, recently launched a tree-planting project, aimed at giving children hope.

Hill, otherwise known as “Ken”, who hails from the community of Canterbury in the parish, launched the project recently in Williamsfield, Westmoreland, under the theme: 'The Trees Grow, While the Child Grows.'

Ten-year-old Canterbury resident, Lativa Irving, was the first individ reaction of Irving to the furniture she had seen at his home during a visit with her mother in June, which also marked the 48th anniversary since a peace agreement was brokered between warring factions in several areas in Montego Bay, following the intervention of a prominent businessman.

During the visit, Irving reportedly told Hill that in the future she wanted to “own furniture of the quality she was looking at”.

Hill told the Jamaica Observer West that under the initiative he plans to give hundreds of mahogany seedlings to children, within communities such as Canterbury, Gully, Green Pond, and Mount Salem, for planting.

He argued that,“while the plants grow, the children will be growing, and as the child reaches adulthood, the trees will mature to turn into lumber”.

“I believe this project is something that will give children a chance to live with a dream, hoping to live to build their own furniture, than an expectation to die by age 25,” added Hill.

The 73-year-old amputee was a victim of gun violence at the age of 23 when he was allegedly shot by a member of the then Lane Gang, while in the vicinity of Albion Lane in the parish. The incident resulted in Hill losing a leg.

Hill, at the time, operated a grocery store and a dance hall, and harboured plans for expansion, when he was shot and wounded.

“1970, I was 23 years old; my woman 21; our first son, two years old; our daughter, one year old; and [my woman was] pregnant with our second son and I was planning to build a two-floor building, when I was attacked and shot,” Hill told the Observer West.

The senior citizen said the tree-planting project will also “be in memory of the guys that died in the senseless seven-year-long gang war and my brother Errol 'Peppy' Hill who is otherwise known as 'Jah B', or 'Beacon', who died 11th April 2017 without fulfilling his dream because of the war”.

The war had resulted in his brother fleeing the island, leaving behind his business, house and other belongings.

Hill, who currently operates the Jericho Farms purified bottled water plant in Green Pond, said he is currently working on having some 1,000 seedlings in place for distribution, just in time for his 74th birthday on January 22.

Over the years, Hill has put his talent and experience to use through writing, which he used as a catalyst for change.

“I have written six screenplays, one play, two kids storybooks, a poem book and a lot of anti-violence materials,” Hill told the Observer West.

Additionally, Hill has sought to assist the youth in and around Canterbury to aspire for greatness and shun the idea of crime, drugs and violence, while becoming the best individual they can possibly be, and in the process, change how the wider world perceives the so-called ghetto communities.

Among those present at the recent launch of the project were Henry Hill, Carl's brother; family members of Irving; and Rev Lascelles Thomas, the pastor of Canterbury Redemption Chapel and his wife, who prayed for God's blessings on the project.

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