Social intervention advocate Patricia Balls laid to rest
When the WhatsApp messages stopped coming in daily, Mikhail Lloyd was sure that something was wrong with his aunt, Patricia Leonie Balls. The family is tight-lipped over the circumstances which led to her death, but Balls, who was a social intervention expert, passed away on January 16, 2020.
Balls was laid to rest last Saturday at the Meadowrest Memorial Gardens in St Catherine.
“The thing I miss about her was that every morning she used to send me an [empowering] message on WhatsApp. Those messages were taken for granted, until they stopped coming in,” Lloyd told The Gleaner last Saturday.
His cousin, Tenaj Mayers, said she misses everything about her aunt, “especially her laughter, her phone calls, and texts”.
Dignitaries, including Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang, at whose ministry Balls last worked, turned out at the University Chapel to pay final respects to the woman who started her journey with social intervention roughly 30 years ago.
Balls started out at the Planning Institute of Jamaica as a programmes officer/senior project economist where she was responsible for the design, monitoring, implementation and evaluation of government projects supported by the United Nations Development Programme, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations, and the Organisation of American States.
She served, too, as project manager for the Kingston Restoration Committee/USAID Peace and Prosperity Programme from 2001 to 2004. Between 2004 and 2008, Balls served as social intervention coordinator for anti-crime initiatives at the Office of the Prime Minister.
Between 2005 and 2011, she was director of the community security initiative of the Ministry of National Security. This afforded inner-city renewal programmes in volatile communities, which include Matthews Lane in Kingston.
From 2011 to 2020, she served as special consultant to the Ministry of National Security and the Citizen Security and Justice Programme.
A highlight of her career was receiving the Prime Minister’s Commemorative Medal of Appreciation on April 25, 2018, for her contribution to public service.
Her stellar career achievements were described by Pastor Edward Jennings, the officiating pastor at the thanksgiving service, as ‘one worthy of merit and an example to follow’.
“Today we mourn the loss of a citizen of our beloved country, who contributed in a significant way throughout her career as a civil servant. She resisted the temptation to become consumed by materialism.
“Your pain is great and we stand with you in solidarity at this most difficult and challenging times in your life. God gave us a gift! We commit her into the hands of the Big Creator, as she enters the new Jerusalem where sorrow and pain are no more,” Jennings said.