The poor’s persistent quake
As we continued to feel phantom quakes after last week’s earthquake, that anxiety reminded me of stories from dwellers in our inner-city communities. “Miss Chin,” said one lady, “is under the bed mi hide with mi grandson last night. You should hear the shot them. I still trembling.” Said another, “I was at the bus stop and I heard the shots coming nearer. I had to run and hide around the corner. All now mi heart still beating fast.” These are hard-working middle-aged women who work, worship, and nurture their families. Surely they deserve better than this.
So, yes, we may have had some fearful days and nights last week, but members of our Jamaican family have been living that fear for decades — day in, day out. They cannot cross certain streets as that may take them into enemy territory. When violence happens close to them, they have to “see and blind, hear and deaf” so they are not branded as informers and attacked.
There must be some super-sized hypocrites in this country for barefooted boys to have access to dangerous weapons and for the number of gangs in this tiny rock to exceed 250. We are hearing talk of the ‘El Salvador model’ and the retraining of our police. It is the police who must be mentoring our youth in the Police Youth Club, the largest in Jamaica. How about our politicians launching mentorship programmes in their constituencies and bringing the parish councillors on board. HEART/NSTA Trust offers free training, but how many youth are being guided in choosing a vocation, signing up for the classes, and sticking with the training to get certified?
Project STAR, brainchild of Keith Duncan and his Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) colleagues, has been seeing more young people trained and getting employment. The Ministry of Education has launched parenting programmes, urgently needed as increasingly schoolchildren are displaying violent behaviour. Church groups have been expressing their fears of antisocial behaviour in schools and our unattached youth are easy prey for gang leaders.
Crime continues to sap our economy. Businesses must spend heavily on security and scheduled surgeries must make way for gunshot victims. The crazy driving by taxis may be caused by their desperate effort to make enough money to pay themselves as well as the extortionists. There can be no finger-pointing by one political party at the other, they are both accountable for this distressing situation.
Some of us can afford the guards, gates, dogs, electronics to keep us secure. Our poor can afford none of this. Please, let this criminal quake stop shaking up their lives.
Calls for preparedness
We are giving thanks that there were no injuries and minimal damage after the magnitude-5.6 earthquake which was heavier in our eastern parishes. In contrast, the same strength earthquake in Nepal over the past weekend has caused some150 deaths and widespread destruction. Our building codes may have served us well, but the 2010 earthquake which took 300,000 Haitian lives is a reminder that both our countries are located on the Enriquillo–Plantain Garden fault zone (EPGFZ or EPGZ). According to Wikipedia, this is “a system of active coaxial left lateral-moving strike slip faults which runs along the southern side of the island of Hispaniola, where Haiti and the Dominican Republic are located. The EPGFZ is named for Lake Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic where the fault zone emerges and extends across the southern portion of Hispaniola through the Caribbean to the region of the Plantain Garden River in Jamaica.”
This is the system which caused the submersion of the larger part of Port Royal in 1692, taking a total of 5,000 lives and the destruction of 80 per cent of the buildings in Kingston in 1907, causing nearly 1,000 deaths.
“The ramifications of such sudden disruptions are widespread, significantly impacting the private sector through the cessation of business operations, damage to assets, and inventory losses,” noted the PSOJ in a statement. “The resulting strain extends to the insurance sector, evident in an upsurge of claims and the inevitable increase in insurance premiums. Additionally, the landscape of development financing is altered, introducing a realm of uncertainty for investors.”
It continued, “The IDB Disaster Risk Profile for Jamaica published in 2020 estimated that buildings and infrastructure in the country are vulnerable to seismic activity, with a total exposed value of US$44.5 billion. This means that in the event of an apocalyptic 1000-year event, the probable maximum loss is US$3.7 billion, representing 8.2 per cent of the total exposure.”
The organisation called for “heightened rigour in enforcing building codes, conducting building inspections, and executing earthquake drills. This becomes even more pertinent as we witness a transformation in our development landscape, characterised by increasing building heights and densities.”
It is said that “to be forewarned is to be forearmed”. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has useful tips on its website, including the preparation of a “go-bag” for emergencies. Please get this done, but keep it compact as it should fit on your lap to save space in case of an emergency extraction.
That heavy shake should focus us wonderfully on taking precautions for personal and national safety.
JA Sign Language Bible
The Jamaican deaf community gathered at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston recently to celebrate the launch of the Jamaican Sign Language (JSL) Bible Translation, spearheaded by Tashi and Blake Widmer.
Community members from across the island came together to learn about and celebrate another beginning in God’s ongoing work among the deaf of Jamaica.
Participation came from local deaf schools and churches — from Wycliffe Caribbean and even the global sign language translation team from SIL, a global, faith-based nonprofit that works with local communities around the world to develop language solutions. The endeavour was launched with the theme ‘God’s word made alive in JSL’.
Renca Dunn, a veteran Bible translator for the American Sign Language (ASL) Bible, reminded the audience that Bible translation is not easy, yet God provides what we ask for. Matt Knapp of HarvestCall and Zandrea Pitterson, one of the translators, exhorted the audience to focus on knowing God and making Him known. There were songs, dramatic presentations, and Bible stories shared, young and old coming together as one, including Jamaican Country Sign.
International guest speaker from Deaf Millennial Project, the founder, Brandon Gaskin inspired the audience and encouraged all to think and dream about what God could and would do in and through this ministry. Special communal prayer was offered on the JSLBT staff and engaged the whole audience in coming together and praying that God would sustain and add the increase as they begin training and research.
With the support of Krystal Clear Productions, the launch was also streamed on Zoom to the Diaspora. Danya’s Coffee Barrel provided delicious fare. With volunteers happy to serve, it all came together as a well-executed, encouraging, and uplifting event, glorifying God and the beginning of something fruitful and beautiful — God’s word brought to life in Jamaican Sign Language.
Please follow the team on Instagram and YouTube @jslbibletranslation or e-mail email@example.com.
Jean Lowrie-Chin is executive chair of PROComm, PRODEV, and CCRP. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.