Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Letter of the Day: Community centres aren't tools of politics

Published:Saturday | April 30, 2016 | 4:00 AM
Juliet Holness, MP for East Rural St Andrew.

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I have serious concerns about an incident that happened in my community with our member of parliament for St Andrew East Rural, Juliet Holness, and team. I am a young community leader from the community of Windsor Lodge in Bull Bay, and I have had the honour of serving as the chairperson of the Community Information Technology and Youth (CITY) Centre community-based organisation (CBO), which is mandated to manage the centre in the community.

Two Wednesdays ago, I was contacted by the caretaker for the CITY Centre. He informed me that there were persons clad in green clothing from neighbouring communities demanding that the key for the centre be handed over to them. I instructed the caretaker to desist from doing so and advised him that the way it was being handled was not at all correct and that he was to remain in his residence for security purposes and to avoid tensions rising.

I told the caretaker that I would try to get in touch with MP Holness to arrange a meeting with the CITY Centre CBO and her team as there is process for anyone to be allowed access with proper notice.

Three hours subsequent to the dialogue I had with the caretaker, upon approaching the centre, I was alarmed to see a crowd gathered on the grounds and even more alarmed to see that there were individuals inside the building when access had not been given.

 

BROKEN LOCKS

 

Upon further inquiry, I was made aware that the locks to the centre had been broken and destroyed and had since been replaced by these individuals. It is unsettling that no respect was shown towards the CBO, a body that has managed to not only maintain the property and its many computers and projector, but has also implemented programmes geared towards social development. I believe in structure and discipline.

As I am still tasked by the Universal Service Fund to secure and provide reports regarding the centre, as well as the condition of the equipment within, I am disturbed by this current situation. While the HEART programme that the MP has been speaking of is a welcome initiative, I am not fully aware as to how this will affect other members of our community who attend primary schools and universities who do not stand to benefit from HEART.

Further, as chairperson of the CITY Centre CBO, I am of the view that there should have been dialogue between all stakeholders and an agreement as to how we would move forward with this developmental initiative.

There is always a right way to go about effecting change. Let's do a round table; let's air our concerns, so we can move forward as one community. Let's not make this seem like a political vendetta.

No community centre should be considered political - it is for all community members. MP Holness, let's talk! Let's build our community!

KASHIF FOSTER

Chairperson, CITY Centre CBO