The sky’s the limit for Shamoy HajareWednesday, February 25, 2015
By NICOLE NATION
She credits her mother for her ambition and diligence, and a genuine love for people has been making her thrive in her field.
Shamoy Hajare, 27, said youth development has always been a passion — from her days in high school at Mt Alvernia.
“My mother has always been my role model and inspiration. Her genuine kindness towards others and her passion for investing in others to make their lives better encouraged my passion for helping others from an early age,” Hajare told All Woman.
Born in Ballards Valley, St Elizabeth, Hajare moved to Montego Bay with her family as a youngster. After her Grade Six Achievement Test she took up her place at the all-girls’ Mt Alvernia High, where she would later become the head girl.
“Looking back, I was just so passionate about youth development,” she shared. “Growing up, I wanted to be a paediatrician. And so whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be, my automatic response was always paediatrician.”
But a career in the medical field targeting young people was not to be, as she realised after enrolling at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) to pursue a bachelor’s in medical technology.
“After starting the programme, I knew it was not for me. I found that I was excellent at the theory; however, when it came to the practical aspects I found that I was a mess. Come to think of it, I didn’t even like seeing needles or blood.”
It was then that she realised that she had to re-evaluate her choice of programmes and what she truly wanted out of life.
“After the first month in the first semester, I was in search of my true calling.”
As fate would have it she stumbled across a social work session which was being given by Eva Forde, social worker and coordinator of the social work programme at NCU.
“When I heard her speak it was like a sign from up above. I genuinely felt as if she was talking to me personally. It was from then that I realised what I was made to do. For once, my passion and my calling were in alignment.”
Without hesitation Hajare signed up for the programme and the rest, as they say, is history.
When it came time for her to choose a niche in the discipline, she naturally chose the community development side of the profession.
“I recall so vividly, feeling at home when we were assigned to work with the Williamsfield Development Area Committee. The reception we got from the community made us go above and beyond what it is that we were supposed to do. I could see that the community felt very appreciative of our efforts to empower them.”
After completing her training at NCU, she then went on an internship at Anderson Centre for Autism in New York where she spent a year as a habilitation specialist.
“During my time at the facility I was interacting with children who had various developmental disabilities on the autism spectrum. I sincerely believe that I learnt as much from them as they did from me. While I was there, I also interacted with as many parents as I could to offer support.”
When she returned to Jamaica she didn’t have a job right away; however, this didn’t deter Hajare. She started sensitising as many people in her circle as she could about autism.
Within months she was working with Young Women/Men of Purpose, a Manchester and St Elizabeth youth-led NGO founded by Lanisia Rhoden.
“When I joined, the group was in its infancy and so there was so much potential for growth. With my background in proposal writing for grant funding, Lanisia and I were able to create a proposal to secure a US dollar grant for the launch of our youth entrepreneurship project. The grant, awarded by UN-Habitat, enabled us to successfully train 44 young people from several communities in Manchester.”
Through the programme, select participants were awarded a US$500 start-up grant for their businesses.
“I was so proud of the graduates. A few of these participants also employed as many as two to three youths from their communities. Not surprisingly, even those who didn’t receive a grant were still able to start their businesses from our training and also went on to develop partnerships and employ other youth. This just goes to show that with the necessary support anyone can succeed,” said Hajare.
Over the years, Hajare has been involved with several international and local bodies with the aim of diversifying her skill set to improve the execution of her responsibilities.
“I have received training in project management from UN-Habitat in Sri Lanka. I was also selected by UN-Habitat to attend the Nexus Global Youth Summit as a speaker, which resulted in my involvement with Nexus Caribbean as part of the organising team.”
She was also selected by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Populations Fund Jamaica to attend the UN Economic and Social Council Youth Forum in 2014 and 2015 as Jamaica’s youth delegate.
“I was also Jamaica’s youth representative at the third Small Island Developing States conference in Samoa,” said Hajare, who is the founder of Jamaica School for Social Entrepreneurship, an organisation which promotes social entrepreneurship by assisting community-based organisations/groups to develop social enterprise models in an effort to become sustainable.
“I’m pretty sure by now you realise that I am big on investing in people. Now is the time for young people to realise the future they want. We must act with urgency to bring about transformational change. It’s all about action 2015!” stressed the young woman.
A youth empowerment officer at the Ministry of Youth and Culture- Youth Division, Hajare has returned to her roots as she has been assigned to the St Elizabeth region. With an aim to disseminate information garnered from her overseas missions and to directly engage youth in Jamaica’s sustainable development plans, Hajare is currently working with UNDP on leading parish consultations in order to engage young people as active partners in the development process.
With sustainable agriculture and environmental sustainability as two of her core focuses, there are plans in the pipeline to set up a rainwater-harvesting project and a soil restoration project in the Junction development area.
“The water harvested will be used for both farming and domestic purposes. About 13 communities are expected to benefit from the successful implementation of the project,” she explained.
With the successful execution of projects such as these, it is Hajare’s hope that community resilience will be fostered among these residents.
“In my experience, things will fall into place; you don’t have to force it. As long as you allow your passion to be your guide, the sky is the limit.”