Sunday, May 2, 2010

Just another week in potential paradise

In many ways it has been a routine week in the life of my work at DRF. I have been settling back in after the trip to Ontario and Tasha is taking her break between courses here "at home". She has joined me at work and has learned much about the lives the students live. As is typical she has been warmly included by the staff members at DRF who have taken the time to share with her stories and expereinces that increase her understanding of this puzzling country.

There has been a noticeable increase in the temperature over the last week or so. The sun is burning hot by the time I am approaching the office at 8am. Most days are cloudless, though often a hot , strong wind tempers the mid-day heat. The brief relief in the water situation that last week's rain brought has been lost with another week of no rain, and water shut-offs are increasing again. Talk is now turning to hurricane season and given there was no significant hurricane activity last year there is a sense that this year an hurricane or two should be anticipated. My colleagues have committed to coaching me in hurricane preparation strategies. I would be quite content not to add hurricane exposure to my experiences for the year but will ensure advice and strategies are well attended to, just in case!

The government is appearing less and less effective in its ability to manage any of the governing functions the country is in desparate need to have managed. Priorities seem to be unclear, fundamental issues of civil society are unattended to and the Prime Minister is on holiday! One is left wondering if the government is so overwhelmed with the enormity of the task of arresting the downward spiral that it is simply immobilised. One of the issues that has concerned most Jamaicans is the transfer of Air Jamaica to Caribbean Airways. Anyone who has flown with Air Jamaica
knows the sense of ownership and pride the airline generates amongst Jamaicans and its transfer and the end of the National Airline, a little peice of Jamaica in the sky and there is a real sense of loss at its transfer out of the country.
Across the country there seems to be a growing sense of concern about youth and the education system and increasing pressure from the communities to take action. In the coming week the teachers are committed to taking labour action as they are owed enormous amounts of back-pay from the government whose repsonse to date has been somewhat denigrating and far from constructive. The Minister of Education has issued a warning that should students attend school during the teachers' action the schools and Mininstry cannot be responsible for the saftey of the students and given current experience this is of grave concern.
And yet, I sit watching the sunrise over the Caribbean Sea, with a slight breeze rustling through the palm trees and the lazy pace of early Sunday morning activity starting to stir. The higglers are gathering along the roads with an abundance of fruits, vegetables and fish for sale, those that have jobs are moving toward them, three and four-generation family groups of churchgoers in Sunday finery are making their way to the many and various places of worship and it feels as if paradise should be within reach.

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