Letter of the Day | Let war-torn areas tell of peace pushback
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Recently, we celebrated the absence, for one year, of murder in the August Town community and congratulated all the stakeholders in this effort. The fact that the community experienced no murder for 365 days is a demonstration that peace-building initiatives can work.
However, it is of concern that the absence of murder in a community is an aberration and not the norm. August Town ought to be commended for celebrating their accomplishment, as this will engender pride in the residents. But, in our celebration, we should also encourage other communities to share their stories of peace building so that more neighbourhoods can become knowledgeable of the benefits of peace and the grave consequences of violence.
We applaud the policymakers and other stakeholders who request the framework for peace building as we aim to stop the bloodletting in our society. Sadly, there is no one-size-fits-all, and while there are many variables that are replicable, a key factor is the quality of the community leadership.
We must engage each of these communities for their respective blueprints and provide the necessary resources to sustain their efforts. One activity that we can embark on is to design and disseminate messages to communicate the behaviours we desire.
Let us make the August Town experience the norm by engaging communities and building their capacities so that they can chart their development agenda. We have to demonstrate to the communities that we really care by providing the resources to strengthen the community development committees so that they are better able to effectively coordinate their transformation process.
In our community engagements, we should also convey that peace building is a continuous process and that the achievements of August Town did not happen overnight. The August Town efforts started many years ago with one of its initial partners being the University of the West Indies. And, it is commendable that other organisations, such as the Peace Management Initiative, the police and the Jamaica National Source and others have remained constant partners
The cooperation of the many organisations and the police is a demonstration of effective community-based policing and a prerequisite for prosperity. We should promote that philosophy and recognise communities that are embracing this problem-solving partnership. We should also learn from the communities of Flanker in St James, Craig Town in Kingston, and others, the factors for building and sustaining peace since they have experienced no murders for extended periods.
We need to encourage these communities to tell their stories as it is important to provide historical contexts to mitigate the constant reinventing of the wheel, especially in an environment of scarcity.