Thu | Aug 22, 2019

NLJ fights human trafficking with poetry and self-defence training

Published:Sunday | July 28, 2019 | 12:22 AM

The National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) brought down the curtains on the 2019 staging of its All Flowers are Roses: Poetry and Self-Defence Series on Friday, July 19, 2019. At the Open Day event, excited participants showcased the fruits of a week’s worth of sessions on poetry, martial arts, human trafficking and mental health awareness.

To lead sessions on raising awareness of human trafficking, the NLJ partnered with Pursued International, a woman-led initiative targeting the elimination of human trafficking in Jamaica through an emphasis on counselling, mentorship, and empowerment. Other partners were the Jamaica Taekwondo Association and the Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network.

Students performed original poems, demonstrated self-defence techniques, and shared their new knowledge of the rising challenge of trafficking persons and the dangers of human trafficking in Jamaica.

Davia Ellis, a health and family living teacher, reflected on her experience: “Before coming here, I always thought [human trafficking] was something far from us in Jamaica … . At times, it was overwhelming to hear the realities ... . No longer will we wonder ‘What are the authorities doing?’ because we will be so busy helping vulnerable persons in our communities to run from human trafficking through our words – our poetry.”

This is the forth staging of the unique programme conceptualised by poet laureate of Jamaica the illustrious Lorna Goodison. Goodison expressed her delight at the positive impact the series has had since its inception in 2017. Plans are under way to publish the original poems written by participants in an anthology to be released in 2020.

Classes for children (ages 10-17) and workshops for teachers, caregivers, and youth workers were held July 15-19 at the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions. Funding for the series was provided by JMMB, GraceKennedy, and JAMCOPY.

In Jamaica, Trafficking in Persons Week was observed from July 21-27. The UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons will be observed on July 30.