Sunday, January 23, 2011

A short week

Having flown back from Washington on Tuesday the week felt quite short. I arrived at the office at lunchtime and quickly settled back into the things that needed to be done. This week there has been more focus on the Building Organisational Change Project as the days included time to review all the CUSO-VSO team has accomplished at DRF over the last year and planning for the second annual BOC workshop. As well I had the opportunity to attend a lecture on the needs of children in court, check out venues for the 5th Caribbean Conflict Resolution Conference and work with Parenting Partners to assist in the develoment of an implementation plan.

The annual programme review required by CUSO-VSO was a lengthy process. Each volunteer had to submit a report describing the activity and impact of the work completed. Much has been done and some accomplishments achieved between us though desigining, implementing and supporting organisational change in a climate of no resources is extremely difficult. I am lucky as my position includes direct work with youth and the staff in the programme and the impact is more immediate and identifiable. It was good to take stock and look to what is next. However, it did remind me that my time here is limited and change for me looms closer than I like to think about.
We are also planning for the 2nd Annual Building Organisational Capacity Workshop which brings together all stakeholders involved at DRF. Last year's workshop was a resounding success so we have a high standard to match or perhaps exceed!

Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) with the support of the EU sponsored a lecture to promote awareness of the needs of children who attend court. The children who attend court are without exception victims of violence and the current experience re-victimises them. There is much work occurring to improve this to which a previous volunteer contributed significantly. Using models and programmes available in Canada and other coutries she developed a draft manual for use by those involved with children at court. The programme will be rolled out by another volunteer over the next year and has the potential to have a very positive impact for children attending court. There was lively discussion following the presentations and clearly there is work to do at the Child Development Agency (the agency charged with the protection of children) and the Office of the Children's Advocate, but by bringing the issues into the public arena JFJ is helping to ensure action is taken.

Planning for the 5th Caribbean Conference on Conflict Resolution is moving along, though not as quickly as it might need to! I keep reminding myself that in Jamaica these things always seem to come together admirably by the appointed date but it is certainly anxiety provoking. The venue has been decided upon - The Jamaica Conference Centre. It is a beautifully located venue looking out over the harbour. As with most things here it is a little worn and suffers from the lack of funds to keep it pristine but the common spaces and gathering areas are bright and open to the fresh air coming over the sea, their are lovely fountains and gardens. The meeting rooms are formal and will pose a bit of a challenge but it would be good to support the centre rather than use a hotel.

The work I am doing with Parenting Partners is very interesting. The concept developed for the Parents' Places that communities will have the opportunity to provide is a sound and ambitious concept. Its promotion of community ownership has potential to influence greatly the parenting support provided, and align it with the particular needs of a community in partnership with other organisations in each community. It was exciting to see the participants at the implementation consultation recognise the importance of carefully planning the implementation process and building in adequate supports. However, given the plethora of community based organisations, government organisations and people who must be included it will be a challenge to bring into focus a manageable and helpful implementation plan. As usual the Political relationships are a significant factor to be considered. There is more work to be done but given the importance of providing parents with access to support and parenting education it is exciting work in which to be involved .

I did not get down to the Burgher Gully project this week but saw the staff and heard their enthusiasm as they plan the launch. This will be delayed a week, as in the enthusiasm for preparing the centre, painting and setting up they forgot to send out the invitations! I learned more about the community as a taxi driver I was riding with started to talk about his family and the son who lives with his baby mother in Burgher Gully. I am privileged to hear so many stories told so candidly and the contribution to my understanding of life here is invaluable.

Next week I hope to spend more time at the Eastern Peace Centre with the Burgher Gully Boyz (and girls as there are now two girls registered!) and continue on earnest with conference planning and workshop planning.

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