Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer
MAY PEN, Clarendon
A Gleaner-commissioned survey that ranks residents of Manchester as the happiest people in Jamaica and shows Clarendon sitting at the bottom of the pile has come as no surprise to Clarendonians with whom the newspaper spoke about the results.
Clarendonians from all walks of life overwhelmingly said crime, unemployment and the daily struggles to make a living were the significant factors contributing to the low level of happiness in their parish. They have also theorised that Man-chester's high ranking is due to that parish's temperature as well as the presence of affluent and well-educated people who are mostly retirees.
"What you expect? How can people be happy here when our daily life is a struggle?" scoffed Ian Nembard, a fruit vendor who sells pineapples, melons and June plums in the vicinity of the Bargain Village Plaza in May Pen. "To make a living, we have to be running from the police every minute of the day."
He added: "Crime, unemployment and poverty are our pet name. So many of us are unemployed and still others are losing their jobs and, every day, all you hear about in Clarendon are murders and shootings. That will make anybody unhappy," Nembard insisted while looking out for any sign of the police.
Nordia Reid, a mass communication student and decorator, also listed crime and unemployment as major factors contributing to Clarendon's sad state of affairs.
"People in Manchester aren't necessarily involved in the day-to-day struggles to make a living as Clarendonians are," said Reid. "Manchester people are relatively educated, affluent and a high number of them are retirees, so I am not overly surprised at their high happiness ranking."
She added: "Because of the daily struggles to make ends meet in Clarendon, the high level of unemployment, crime, or the perception of crime, people in the parish (Clarendon) are relatively unhappy in comparison to other parishes, but it is an improving situation ..." she said.
Party promoter David Anderson said Clarendon's problem isn't unique, and insisted that the parish was just getting too much bad publicity.
"Any problem we have in Clarendon existed everywhere else in Jamaica. Crime and unemployment are everywhere, but our problems are getting more highlighted, which is bad publicity," Anderson said.
Speaking with The Gleaner last week, mayor of May Pen, Scean Barnswell, theorised that Clarendon's happiness score of 6.4 could be the result of a number of factors, including the high level of unemployment in the parish, the breakdown of the family structure, the many households being run by single mothers, as well as the issue of crime.