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Focus on children beyond Labour Day

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, May 24, 2019

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“NEIGHBOUR, neighbour, let's come together and work this Labour Day.” Those lyrics are from an advertisement that was intent on encouraging community spirit and good neighbourliness — an important part of the annual Labour Day activities.

For years I had the opportunity to travel to various communities to see the work being done by friends and families to make their surroundings better. This year was no different. I took a brief tour of the city to see whatta gwaan for Labour Day 2019. My travels started in Gordon Town, where the police station was being painted and freshened up. Eyebrows were raised a few days ago about an altercation between a Rastafarian family and the officers at the station. It's a perplexing story which I will reserve comment on. I just hope that the best will be done for the children who were in the middle of the mix-up.

Back to my Labour Day tour: Residents near Papine and Hope Pastures were busy freshening up kerb walls, clearing away overgrown grass and whitewashing the area to make things clean and bright. A number of soldiers were also on hand to paint a pedestrian crossing in the vicinity of Lister Mair Gilby and Papine high schools. This year's national focus on schools and protecting our children on the roads is a timely one.

Sadly, the Labour Day message was not enough to prevent the horrifying crash on Tuesday of this week. The Black Hill main road in Portland was a disaster scene when a bus, crammed to the roof with schoolchildren, overturned, killing one student and injuring several others. The carnage on the road continues to plunge families into mourning and despair. Our hearts go out to the families who are dealing with this tragedy.

We owe the children of the rural areas a better, safer way to get to and from school. Transport operators complain about their overheads – wear on vehicles from bad roads, high price of petrol, licensing requirements. The profit margins are too small, they say. To compensate, some drivers overpack the vehicles and race back and forth trying to get more trips done in a day. Is the cost of lost lives and life-changing injuries caused by careless and reckless driving worth it? It doesn't add up to me. The answers are not easy, but we must find a solution.

As I drove through the roads of Kingston it seemed fairly quiet. Here and there, I saw community members beautifying educational institutions around town. As I made my way south and then over to west of the city, the projects were few and far between. The turnout seems to be less and less each year. I would be interested to know if the authorities have noticed a downturn in the number of registered projects.

In some places residents chose to treat the day as a regular holiday. In one corner lot, off South Camp Road, a bounce-about was in full use as youngsters enjoyed the day off from school. Some would ask, why didn't they buy into the idea of Labour Day? Then again, it is hard work to give our youngsters a chance to play and be children in this day and age where they are faced with acts of violence and mayhem on a far too regular basis.

As my route turned to the western side of Kingston, past the construction and dislocation of Six Miles, the began to rain. Dampening down the dust and added to the subdued spirit of the day. The rain was welcome, but it wasn't enough to make a difference to the level of water in our main catchment areas. It was enough, though, to cool down the temperature, and hopefully didn't bring an end to the planned work.

To those who came out and did what they could to keep the community spirit alive, we thank you and congratulate you on your efforts. It is hard to keep upbeat and hopeful sometimes, but it is the spirit of togetherness that will bring us through the rough patches. To quote the theme for Labour Day 2019: “It's you, it's me, it's all ah we.”

Big up the Reggae Girlz

Our female footballers are on their way to France — with a few stops in-between — to take up the challenge of the World Cup. It has not been an easy road for the women. They still haven't got the level of interest or support as our men did when they too made their way to France despite achieving a feat that many larger countries haven't been able to pull off.

Old-timers say “Jackass say di world nuh level. And Mrs Jackass say, Ah true yuh nuh know.”

We wish them all the very best and know that they will make us proud as they carry the black, green and gold onto the football pitch.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@gmail.com


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