Tissona Ormsby | Crime cancer hurting Hayes - Jamalco football team shows what's possible but community needs urgent treatment
I have always held tight to my belief that Hayes, Clarendon, is a first-class community.
I could never relate to seeing the plight of ordinary Jamaican people protesting over the lack of water, proper road infrastructure, and utilities on the news. This was just not the norm in Hayes. I have lived in Hayes all my life, and I can proudly say that this community is indeed blessed.
Apart from the occasional water lock-offs due to a power outage, this community has clean, potable water flowing through pipes all year round, even in the face of a serious drought.
Sadly, Hayes has earned a reputation that no community member is proud of: The community is plagued by a malignant cancer called crime.
In January this year, nearly 300 workers lost their jobs at the Monymusk Sugar Factory in Lionel Town. This affected many families in Hayes as the company provided an income for many households. This has resulted in a negative impact on the community as the families affected by this massive downsizing are now worse off than before. Some residents are of the view that this has increased poverty levels in the community, and some have resorted to crime as a means of survival.
Crime has tainted the community's reputation. The residents have become fearful, and a once lively community has now been transformed into a ghost town as soon as it hits 6 p.m. No one is seen playing dominoes at the corner shops; children no longer play football in the streets or ride their bicycles after school; and bars no longer stay open until midnight. The residents have become more cautious.
It is obvious that the community has not recovered since last year's gruesome murder of three teenagers and a 35-year-old resident of the Monymusk housing scheme.
Several businessmen and women in Hayes, who depend on parties and street dances to make a living, have lost a significant amount of income due to the many curfews that have been imposed on the community since the start of the year.
Recently, the police stopped issuing party permits for events in Hayes and surrounding communities, and many business investments plummeted as a result. A party was recently shut down in its early stages by the police because of a murder that had taken place in the community that same evening. There was also the increased presence of soldiers earlier this year, but their visits have not been consistent.
Despite being overshadowed by crime, the community has experienced its fair share of camaraderie among residents this year. This was evident when the Jamalco Community Football League (Corner League) began in June.
This gave everyone who loved the sport something to look forward to. It was also clear that from the historic moment the Jamalco football team qualified for the new Red Stripe Premier League season, all eyes would be fixed on the community.
This has brought a positive change among the residents. A once empty playing field has now been filled with hundreds who flock the stands to watch the Jamalco football team in action. This new excitement has brought families and friends together. It has helped to rekindle old friendships, form new ones, and it has given the community hope by showing that good things do happen in Hayes despite the negative publicity.
HOPE FOR 2017
My hope for 2017 begins with peace. As cliched as it sounds, that is first and foremost my hope for the New Year.
I hope there will be no murders and that we will see a significant decline in all other major crimes. We need a more proactive police force and increased security that is inclusive of regular patrols and spot checks. I sincerely hope that the police will rekindle their relationship with the youth club to foster better community policing and restore trust between them and the youth.
Second, there are some areas that are underutilised and would make excellent green spaces. The community is in need of a park and playground, where children can enjoy the outdoor environment and feel safe while they play.
I hope that for 2017, there will be more frequent garbage collection and more investment in the various early childhood institutions. Children should be able to learn in a more comfortable environment that is safe and conducive to learning.
I hope that next year, we will show more love to our neighbours and return to a time when we respected each other and learned to disagree without the end result being another fatality.