Sunday, January 30, 2011


The week has been strongly focused on organising and planning, though with somewhat limited success. Organising the 5th Caribbean Conference continues as one of the major tasks at DRF, supporting the Burgher Gully project and their efforts to plan a small launch event and planning the 2nd Annual Building Organisational Capacity Workshop. Most importantly, taking the best advantage of the extra month of operation of the youth programme to try and generate funding. Organising was also the topic of the Editor's Forum at the Gleaner.

Planning the 5th Caribbean Conference continues to be an enormous and somewhat worrying challenge. The vision of the conference is typically ambitious but the time and funds to plan it for success seem absent. Everything is dependent on my colleagues at DRF who are already stretched thin to fulfill exisiting responsibilities. We seem to inch closer to decisions and confirmations but time seems to be moving much faster than we are. This process is a real challenge as I experience the tension between my own culture of planning and organising and the dominant culture in Jamaica. Balancing the respect of what exists and the charge to build capacity and increase skills in the organisation is requiring much thought and consideration through this process. I am taking a lot of deep breaths and counting to a ten (or more) before I speak!

The Burgher Gully project continues to thrive, with more youth attending daily. The count by week end was 37 which prompted me to caution that quality must not suffer at the expense of quantity! However it is hard to turn young people away so we will be creative about how to ensure impact for as many as our resources can support. This week the invitations for the official 'Launch' did get out so tomorrow will see the youth host invited guests at the Eastern Peace Centre and share their hopes for the future.

At the end of February the organisation will be brought together for the 2nd Annual Building Organisational Capacity Workshop. The focus will be on supporting the service network so that the greatest potential for service delivery can be realised. Those who are members of DRF rarely ge the opportunity to come together so I look forward to planning a day that make the most of this opportunity.

With a brief reprieve for the Youth programme as a result of UNICEF flowing 2 months of additional funding, which means the staff will be paid for the work in January which they did regardless of the fact that they were aware there was no funding to pay them, means we are in high gear to push the Ministry of Education to fund the programme, as was their original commitment. The evaluation recommendation is clear, the programme is a valuable adjunct to school-based services for students demonsatrting behavioural issues, and minimally should be available to all schools in volatile commmunities. Now all that is left is to get the Ministry to fulfill its responsibility and find the very small amount of funding requried to continue the programme.

Across the country there continues to be much debate about how to make changes that will enable Jamaica to pull out of the downward spiral it appears to be experiencing and realise the enormous potential it holds. At the 10th Editor's Forum at the Gleaner the speakers spoke of the need for the population to organise in order to demand change in the political process and the performance of the politicians. From improving the education system to commnity influence on the decisions that get made it was noted that there must be a higher level of involvement of the population to change the current status quo.
Professor Rosalea Hamilton, President, Micro, Small and Medium-Sized
Enterprises Alliance
Jamaicans must organise to address the range
that affect the country as owners of the country. Every Jamaican
must take
responsibility, which includes educating every child and
that people
are engaged in entrepreneurial activities that can
income so that they
don't have to turn to crime and other kinds

What a difference it would make if the population demanded accountability and limited the control of the politicians.

This morning has dawned cloudy and somewhat cooler than usual. The clouds are not the dense dark rain clouds that form over the mountains, then blow over, depositing a torrential downpour and moving on to leave the island clean and steamy.
This morning the cloud cover is high and uniform with no movement. The quality of the light is quite different and mutes the colours and somehow the noises of the awakening city. Instead of the bright, hard light of the sun as it gathers strength there is a softness to the day and a gentler feel. The thought occurs - if there were more days started like this would Jamaicans have a gentler approach to the world?

The week ahead will see me in Ontario by Thursday for a very brief and busy few days. The reason for the visit is to meet, as a member of National Implementation Research Network, with those involved in an emerging implementation project. A "cool" morning here will take on a different meaning when I am exposed once again to the frigid cold of the north!

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