Crossing Many Rivers for Children
Much has been said about the need for an entire village caring for a child. "That was so when I was growing up; things and times have changed and core principles such as respect no longer exist." These were the sentiments of Jimmy Cliff, singer/songwriter/actor, on Monday night. He was addressing guests at the 'Many Rivers to Cross for Our Children' fundraising dinner and auction held at New Kingston's Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
In a thought-provoking and riveting speech, the legendary musical icon noted that the forces of good and evil exist. "Good is the superior force, so we cannot allow the negative force to take over. Atoms of good and evil are bursting forth now. What's happening now is not new, but we can resist it by not allowing the force of evil to take over," Cliff stressed.
Reminding his keen audience that every mother is mother of all children and every father is father of all children, Cliff said that although Child Month had ended, every day should be regarded as a child's day in which children are loved and protected.
He added that he deliberately chose children and the elderly as the focus of his foundation because both groups stood at two extremes in the life cycle. He said, however, that our civilisation was so structured that members of the society tended to place both the young and the old in special 'homes', like little chickens, for their protection.
soft spot for children
"I have a soft spot for children. I usually feel more comfortable with them than with adults because they are direct, innocent and honest," he said. "Contrary to what is being said, we have not lost the children, we have just lost sight of the simple courtesies we learnt as children. Let's re-cultivate those values and give some more conscious thought to our children," Cliff said.
And, much to the delight of the audience, Cliff took his guitar and gave a moving rendition of timeless favourites, which had all singing along: Treat the Youths Right, The Rebel in Me, Many Rivers to Cross, O My Goddess, and Love Dem Don't Hurt Dem - the latter used to launch his foundation's initiative for children. Songbird Marcia Griffiths also thrilled the audience in her soulfully inimitable style.
Meanwhile, Jacqueline Sharp, president and CEO of the Scotiabank Group, said that in order to combat the abuse of children, national and community-based child-protection systems must be promoted to provide a comprehensive, sustainable solution to protect all children,
"A child-protection system must be based on long-term interventions built through coordination among different sectors and actors,' Sharp said. She said the partnership with the Jimmy Cliff Foundation is proof that such partnerships for the protection and rights of the children can be achieved as they help to move communities and Jamaica along a path of full child protection.
Proceeds of the silent auction and other funds raised will go to the Child Development Agency, Scotia Foundation, the National Child Month Committee and the Jimmy Cliff Foundation autism project.