Cook gets recipe for success with Chinese support
A mother of three is imploring business leaders in Clarendon to integrate more with at-risk communities as hope has risen from the support and empowerment of a Chinese businessman.
Monice Codner, 25, told our news team that she hopes the dark days are behind her and the residents of Line who have often foregone small-business ventures because of crime.
Codner was struggling to maintain her cookshop business as the space she occupied was once plagued by crooks, but the incidence of crime has trended downwards since the death of so-called violence producers and the intervention of a state of public emergency six months ago.
Her business was also given a new lease on life after receiving stock valued at $38,000 and a brand-new gas stove from Chinese businessman Stephen Liao, owner of National Self-Serve and Wholesale in the parish.
Codner, an expert in cooking fried chicken and chicken back and a patron of National Self-Serve since she was a child, was unknown to Liao before she was introduced to him by Otis James of the James and Friends Educational Programme. That has turned around her life and business.
“I get everything from Steve, and I am thankful for it because I am the first young girl bring a Chiney to over Line because all the while, people say over Line nuh good, and pure bad people come from over Line, and nothing good can’t come from over Line,” Codner told The Gleaner.
She is thrilled that the businessman has put down roots in the community of Line and integrated with locals, infusing her and others with dignity many of them had always longed for.
“Dem say nobody in a higher society nah come over Line, but I show people say anybody can come over Line ‘cause we over here we nuh bad or nothing. We just want help to bring out what is in us,” she said.
Codner told The Gleaner that crime has, over the years, stifled her business and that she is thankful for the dip in violence the security crackdown has brought.
The SOE was imposed in Clarendon in September 2019, leading to a fall in murders. But up to February 1, violent crime has been resurgent, with homicides matching the count at this time last year.
When firefights break out, Codner, like others in the community, have had to cower in fear, causing a lockdown of the business and a precipitous plunge in earnings.
But she still has hopes that the SOE represents a silver lining.
“Business picking up. Mi out here some time from 8 in the morning till 10 in the night. Business is all right. Sometime me will mek me $15,000 and go down a night-time,” Codner said.
However, she fears for her children, who have become accustomed to bloodshed and nocturnal explosions. Her seven-year-old son is rattled by the sound of gunshots, sending him scurrying under his bed. He attends May Pen Primary, some distance away, instead of a nearer school nestled in the crime den.
According to Codner, more than 10 men have been killed near her home in recent years.
“When things flare up, it wicked. Mi feel like it a go settle forever now still because of the SOE,” she said.