Fri | Nov 27, 2020

HOPE Programme opens doors for unattached youth

Published:Friday | July 26, 2019 | 12:29 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Michael Holness greets Mashekia McKenzie, a trainee with the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, during a tour of the new police station on Olympic Way, a site where unattached youth are trained under the HOPE  programme.
Prime Minister Andrew Michael Holness greets Mashekia McKenzie, a trainee with the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, during a tour of the new police station on Olympic Way, a site where unattached youth are trained under the HOPE programme.

With sights set on brighter prospects in the future, 21-year-old Mashekia McKenzie is delighted to be participating in a programme at this time that has presented a glimmer of hope in her pursuit to grasp greater success.

Working on a construction site in Olympic Gardens under the Government’s Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, the 21-year-old mother of two says she is gaining valuable experience, which she hopes will pave the way for a better future for her children.

Through the Government’s HOPE programme, McKenzie, along with hundreds of unattached young people from across Jamaica, have received a new lease on life as they obtain on-the-job training and receive guidance on work ethics.

McKenzie, a past student of St Andrew Technical High, has commended the benefits of the programme, explaining that it has helped her pay for a few Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects she intends to sit next month.

“For the four months I have been here, I can say I paid for some subjects I will be sitting next month. I feel good and proud of myself. I would love to say to unattached youth to latch on to the HOPE programme to uplift yourself,” she told The Gleaner yesterday in Olympic Gardens at the site where a three-storey police station is being constructed.

‘I want to improve’

McKenzie was elated at the level of experience she has gained so far.

“I went to St Andrew Technical and got some subjects, but I want to improve. On the site, I do stock checking, mark register, and a little of everything. But really, my major is in carpentry. At the end, I will receive an international and local HEART certificate.”

The HOPE programme, mainly for unattached youth, has also elevated 24-year-old Kenniel Wilson from being a mere labourer to becoming a certified mason to add to his other talent as a local artiste.

“Yes, I am an artiste, but mi still de yah suh a do something. Mi deh yah with some a mi friend dem who I usually smoke and party with, but we a do a thing otherwise, just to have a better life, and be a better person.”

Along with the police station construction site, the prime minister took the media on a tour of the National Housing Trust head office in New Kingston, the Island Traffic Authority in Swallowfield, St Andrew, the Supreme Court, the Port Authority, and the HEART GARMEX Training Institute in Kingston.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com