Life changer - 24-y-o escapes rough bus-loader existence, turns JPS intern
For more than two years, the only employment Horace Bailey knew was to load buses on the streets of the Corporate Area.
The 24-year-old, who left high school with no subjects and lives in the volatile St Andrew community of Majesty Gardens, more popularly known as 'Back To', said the killing of several bus loaders made it a risky job, but underscored that it was better than the alternative.
"It was a matter of survival and I did not want to turn to the gun or get involved in a gang," he explained.
Yesterday, Bailey was among 20 at-risk young people from several inner-city communities who began working as interns at the Jamaica Public Service Company Company (JPS), through a partnership agreement with the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) through the Ministry of National Security.
The 19 males and one female, according to JPS director for the eastern region Omar Sweeney, will be exposed to high-level training over a six-month period. It is estimated that this will cost the light and power company more than $5 million.
"What we expect is that a successful implementation of this programme will see it being expanded to other areas islandwide," Sweeney revealed.
It is estimated that there are more than 270,000 unattached, at-risk young people across Jamaica and CSJP programme manager Simeon Robinson says there are more than 3,000 in its database, who are ready to be engaged either through permanent employment, internship or on-the-job training.
"The JPS should be lauded for its bold step towards nation building. It is our wish that other companies will follow suit," Robinson suggested.
However, it was Bailey's story that underscored the relevance of the internship programme.
"I always told my mother that I was going to make something of my life and that my future did not stop with loading buses," he recalled.
His journey from a bus loader to JPS intern began when his father suggested that he enroll at the HEART Trust/NTA.
"At first, I was unwilling. However, I decided that attending HEART was my way out of poverty, as I would be able to secure a better life through education," Bailey recalled.
The former Haile Selassie High School student said he completed level-one studies in electrical installation and quickly realised that "I had potential".
"As such, I decided that I was going all the way to level three," he declared.
The CSJP paid for his studies and Bailey was later selected to participate in what he called a "life-changing" internship with the Jamaica Defence Force.
"Today, my story has changed. I can proudly say I am an intern with the Jamaica Public Service Company," he boasted.
"Who would have known that a bus loader, yes me, would have been selected to attend Parliament as a guest of the minister of national security," he added, recalling his trip to Gordon House last year for National Security Minister Peter Bunting's Budget Debate presentation.
JPS President and CEO Kelly Tomblin declared that the light and power company was prepared to lead a revolution of growth in Jamaica, and urged other corporate entities to follow suit.
"Partnership is the soul of social and economic development," Tomblin said.