Tue | Nov 30, 2021

Peace in a pandemic: East Kingston residents benefit from interventions

Published:Tuesday | March 16, 2021 | 12:20 AM
Jonelle Llewellyn (left), research associate at the Violence Prevention Alliance, presents Milton Tomlinson, Peace Management Initiative’s intervention manager, with care packages for distribution to East Kingston communities in observation of Internatio
Jonelle Llewellyn (left), research associate at the Violence Prevention Alliance, presents Milton Tomlinson, Peace Management Initiative’s intervention manager, with care packages for distribution to East Kingston communities in observation of International Women’s Day on March 8. The presentations were made at the Council of Voluntary Social Services office in Kingston.

Women in the communities of East Kingston benefitted from a series of peace initiatives that were organised by the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) and other partners in observation of International Women’s Day, which was celebrated last Monday..

The interventions included community outreach, which was focused on addressing issues of gun violence and its effects on women and children. The outreach was in observation of Peace Month, which is being celebrated under the theme: ‘Peace in the Pandemic’.

“We reached out to women along the Mountain View and Rockfort areas,while observing all COVID-19 protocols and implemented initiatives to address gun control and how we reduce the use of guns and the destruction it cause in our society and how we can work together to shape peace,” said Professor Elizabeth Ward, chair of the VPA.

Ward said the initiative involved working with the women to develop positive messages through video skits and artwork and different forms of expression, which will be used as messages to reach the wider community.

She also noted that the outreach included the distribution of care packages to some 75 households. The care packages were supplied to the vulnerable members of the communities such as children, women and the elderly who live in Dunkirk, Rockfort and Mountain View.

The packages included toiletries; basic food items such as rice, flour, sugar, mackerel, sardines and crackers; masks and hand sanitisers. The packages were delivered to the communities in collaboration with the Peace Management Initiative (PMI).

Milton Tomlinson, PMI’s intervention manager, stated that the communities were grateful for the packages.

“The community members were thrilled to receive the packages. It has been extremely rough on many families during the pandemic as many are under restrictions, such as the elderly who have responsibilities for their household,” he pointed out.

The initiative was implemented in collaboration with partners such as: American Friends of Jamaica; Nursing Association of Jamaica; the International Network on Small Arms, Canadian Women’s Club of Jamaica and the Council of Voluntary Social Services.

Ward informed that reports from UNICEF and other grassroots organisations such as the PMI have indicated that the pandemic has had a debilitating effect on the evolving nature of gang violence, and the increasing numbers of domestic-related conflicts in marginalised communities.

“This year’s theme seeks to target vulnerable groups deeply affected by community based violence and the excesses of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the virus has restricted movement of persons, the government has established gathering limits; communities continue to grapple with the fractious nature of community relations,” she said.