In Jamaica politics always promotes opinionated discussion and this week more so. As I write this the current Prime Minister is weighing his future and that of his governing party. Mr Golding's integrity and credibility are being seriously questioned as more information comes to light about the action taken to avoid the extradition of Mr "Dudus" Coke.
At work and over lunch and dinner the conversation inevitably turns to "Will Mr Golding resign?" with opinions from all sides. No-one is sure, but what is a commonly held concern is that even if Mr Golding resigns the underlying issues with respect to integrity and ethics are so pervasive that the alternatives to Mr Golding are likely to have "skeletons in the closet", and actions taken will do little to change the apparent connections to crime and corruption. This has served to heighten the discussions and concerns about the level of corruption in both political parties, the impact on the country of a political system that seems intimately connected to organised crime, and the apparent inability to make changes that will ensure credible and ethical politicians to represent the people of the country.
Outside of politics, as the temperature rises so too does the level of violence. In a number of communities the gangs have been particularly active with drive-by shootings and reprisals directly affecting both staff and children with whom I am working. It is difficult to hear as people try to organise their lives around the difficulties in either their community or communities through which they have to pass. It feels as if things may be coming to a turning point at which changes will be demanded and strategies developed to take back some semblance of order.
For me the week has been largely spent with youth. At the Kingston Peace Centre I have completed many of the intake and out-take interviews with the students, hearing their stories, talking to their parents and guardians. Our conversations are focussed on helping both parents and students understand the things they have control over and can change to improve things for themselves. I am always struck by the thoughfulness of the students and their willingness to share their stories and talk about what might work to help things.
I was in May Pen on Wednesday attending a Youth Dialogue about governance and the electoral processes. The discussions were energetic and insightful. If these youth were given the opportunity to make changes to the system things would definitely change for the better! It is exciting to see how informed they are about the political process and their desire to become involved.
The weekend offered some wonderful time with friends and colleagues. The hospitality of a diaspora volunteer who is here for a short term placement provide an absolutely glorious afternoon at her brother's house in the hills overlooking the city. The view was spectacular, the surroundings stunningly beautiful, the meal sumptuous and the warmth and generosity of their welcome created a very special time. The house was full of remarkable examples of Jamaican art, a reminder of another forum in which Jamaica excels.
Next week will bring more Youth Dialogues and another push to find funding....