August Town peace builders work towards restoration through competition
While concerned by the recent flare-up of violence in the community, the August Town Peace Builders continue to work relentlessly to restore calm to the community in collaboration with the security forces.
The community is looking forward to replicate what happened in 2016 when history was created as it reported no murder for that year.
Kenneth Wilson, chairman of the August Town Peace Builders, said that one such initiative that the organisation has implemented is the Safe Community Competition, which was designed by the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) and the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) and implemented in 2010 in August Town.
“The competition is based on the safe community ladder criteria which included: dispute resolution; reports of no violence; good community governance with establishment of corner committees, youth clubs and sports clubs; good police community relationship; education and health and community development,” he explained recently at the VPA Steering Committee where he made a presentation on the initiative.
Wilson said the competition, which was named in honour of the late Professor Barry Chevannes, has continued and over the last three years the African Gardens community has won the competition.
“The period was selected because crime tends to escalate during that period, and that it was a form of method to curb the violence,” he said, noting that the initiative contributed in the past to reduced crime and violence in the community, which started trending downwards until it hit the historic mark of no murder in 2016.
In the early years of the programme a police officer was assigned to each of the five communities (Hermitage, Goldsmith Villa, Bedward Gardens, African Gardens and August Town) that made up the Greater August Town area, so if there was an issue, they were able to inform the police who would intervene before it escalates.
“We were able to use the competition as a violence-prevention tool to mitigate against violence in our community. This competition has helped us,” he said.
In addition, Wilson noted that there is a Safe Corner competition, which involves restorative justice where every ‘corner’ is assigned a Restorative Justice Committee, which mediates when there is any conflict. He said the approach is to build a network that will address conflicts as they arise in the community.
The community also has an initiative called the August Town Children Development Programme, where children who have lost parents to violence are provided with emotional and financial support. Some 50 children are in the programme. Wilson said that the aim is to show these children love and discourage the reprisal culture in the community.