Thu | Apr 2, 2020

August Town resident wishes for unity

Published:Friday | January 31, 2020 | 12:13 AMDanae Hyman/Gleaner Writer

While appreciating the RJRGLEANER Honour Awards special award for voluntary service she collected on behalf of the August Town community yesterday, Joan Campbell said she wished the circumstances were different.

August Town was being recognised for the valiant efforts of residents last September, who spent sleepless days and nights wading through murky waters and gullies in search of young Kyle Richards.

Nine-year-old Kyle was washed away in his Hope Valley community in St Andrew during heavy rainfall on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 25. Days later, on Sunday, September 29, his body was found miles away in Harbour View, also in St Andrew.

Campbell, the youngster’s grandaunt, told The Gleaner that she would love if the community could once again join together like it did for Kyle in contrast to the violent divide that currently plagues the community.

“I would like to see something different, not losing a life to get an award, but have the community together to have a better and peaceful life. It is not easy right now living in the community with the war going on,” she said during a ceremony held at The Gleaner’s North Street, Kingston office, yesterday.

CROSSING INVISIBLE BORDERS

When The Gleaner visited August Town last week, Kerine Kidd, Kyle’s mother, said the efforts of the community were what helped to strengthen her during the ordeal.

According to Kidd, before the tragic incident, some persons in the community never crossed an imaginary border to enter another section of August Town. However, in the search for Kyle, everyone went back and forth through all sections of the community and worked as one to find him.

But unfortunately, Campbell said everything returned to normal after Kyle’s body was found and the violence in the community once again skyrocketed.

She said if the community could come together in unity again, residents would happily make an annual trip to The Gleaner’s offices to collect awards under better circumstances.

Although she noted that most of the community members who helped in the search for Kyle were not aware that they had been given an award, she said that she knew they would be elated when she shared the information and hoped it would spark a change within the community.

During yesterday’s ceremony, Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Donna-Marie Rowe, was also recognised with the Honour Award for public service, for her inspiring leadership of the JIS, managing its transformation into a modernised government agency.

“I accept this award with all humility and I am very heartened by this very prestigious award,” Rowe said after collecting her plaque.

“I dedicate it to my families, my JIS family and my extended family who supported me throughout the years and enabled me to be able to serve in this manner.”

Also recognised yesterday were the Violence Prevention Alliance, which was awarded or Voluntary Service, and Basil Fernandez, for Science and Technology.

danae.hyman@gleanerjm.com