AHF facilitates mentorship for male wards of the state
Twenty-two wards of the state, housed at the Sunbeam Home for Boys in St Catherine, were introduced to mentors from the Wolmer’s Men of Excellence mentorship group at a luncheon at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on the weekend.
The event was hosted by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) under their Girls’/Youth Act initiative, as part of International Men’s Day celebrations. International Men’s Day was observed on Friday, November 19, under the theme ‘Better relations between men and women’.
Caribbean Regional Director of the AHF, Dr Kevin Harvey, said the event was part of efforts to find ways to motivate boys and push them towards more activities that can impact their future in a positive way.
“We wanted to let them know that there are many opportunities out there outside of the norm, as well as people who they can always call upon for help whenever they need it. Men are becoming marginalised, and we need to find a way to bring them back into the fold and show them how they can make a positive contribution to their own development and that of the wider society,” Harvey explained.
The luncheon was aptly themed ‘Men of Excellence, leading by example’, as several mentors from various areas brought their expertise to bear and encouraged the boys to start planning for their future. They were also told to access all the help that is available to them, especially through mentorship.
Investment baker Andre Gooden implored the boys to do the right things and not succumb to any kind of peer pressure that may lead to negative behaviours. “When you do the right thing, everyday opportunities will present themselves,” he said. He added that they “do not have to do traditional jobs but can go into other areas in which there was a need in the country”. According to him, these include manufacturing, agriculture and more focus on entrepreneurship.
Engineer Xavier Pinnock reinforced this and urged the boys to believe in themselves and their abilities. “When you believe in yourself and believe in others, you can be whatever you want to be. Always encourage yourself and keep your head high,” he said.
The need to ensure that they have a foundation in education was a common theme among the mentors and was stressed further by Sheldon Pinnock, engineer, IT specialist and sales and product manager. “As you learn new things, you grow. I grew up poor, but I had a saying, ‘when you change the way you look at things, things start to change’.” He explained that “there is a blueprint for success” and it included accessing available resources, such as advice from those deemed successful in their area of interest.
The pillars under which International Men’s Day is celebrated include promoting positive role models for boys, improving gender relations, improving gender equality, highlighting discrimination against men, focusing on men’s health and well-being and celebrating men’s contribution.
In keeping with these, Major Jamie Walsh told the boys that it was important for them to treat others how they’d like to be treated. He also stressed the importance of planning to improve their chances of success. “My advice to you is anything you do, have a plan, and as you develop and grow, refine the plan. Then you should work towards your goal. If things don’t go as planned, at least you have a framework.”
Major Kaniel Smith agreed and pointed out that “good boys make better men and better men make for a better Jamaica”. “Crime does not pay. Education pays. Learn the attributes of discipline. Learn the fundamentals in school and you will be better off in the long run,” he told the boys.
During the event, a cheque valued at $775,000 was handed over by AHF to the Sunbeam Home for Boys. Harvey explained that the cheque was for the purchase of a new commercial washer and refrigerator for the facility.
Manager of Sunbeam Home for Boys, Desmond Whitely, accepted the cheque and thanked the AHF for its continuous support of the institution. “Our relationship with the AHF began years ago when we were preparing for back to school. The agency came through for us just in time. I’d like to thank the AHF for its support of our nearly 60 boys at the home and for always reaching out to us to offer assistance,” Whitely said.
International Men’s Day is an annual observance to celebrate positive male role models and to raise awareness of men’s issues.