Fri | Dec 1, 2023

Spring Village on path to healing after gruesome crime

Published:Tuesday | January 18, 2022 | 12:07 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer
Students at the first Values and Attitudes session held last Wednesday at the Spring Village Development Foundation auditorium.
Students at the first Values and Attitudes session held last Wednesday at the Spring Village Development Foundation auditorium.
Randy Finnikin, executive director, Spring Village Development Foundation
Randy Finnikin, executive director, Spring Village Development Foundation

It has been three months since the gruesome killing of the Lewis sisters – 69-year-old Christine, a retired teacher and justice of the peace and 72-year-old Lola. Still, the residual effects of the shock and horror remain with residents of the Spring Village community in Old Harbour, St Catherine.

Randy Finnikin, of the Spring Village Development Foundation, said he realised something had to be done to restore the ‘family feel’ in the area as he saw it as the only way to bring back the community to the place where persons actually cared and looked out for each other.

Last Wednesday, Finnikin started the first of a weekly initiative – a values and attitudes programme aimed at making a change from as early as possible – at the primary-school level.

The weekly session, targeting the Spring Gardens Primary School, is held at the Spring Village Development Foundation auditorium, and according to Finnikin, it will continue until it morphs into something impactful.

So far, the feedback from residents has been positive, he said. “More of the residents are showing intolerance to violence and antisocial behaviour. People are saying we want a better life, an improved standard of living, and crime and violence is not going to allow that to happen,” he told The Gleaner, adding the resolve that crime and violence is not the answer has resonated throughout the community.

He said that other initiatives being looked at to stem crime and to bring about positive change include the promotion of broader skills training for young people for which collaborations are being sought with stakeholders.

“We have gotten one so far with Jamaica Luminaries, which seeks to strengthen our work with farmers, and, importantly, to change the status quo of farming by providing training and looking towards building greenhouses and restart a castor oil production that was put on hold two years ago when COVID started,” he shared.

He said they are also now working with the police to begin a community and safety programme as well as a farmer’s watch group.

After 23 years, he said they are now going back to the drawing board to look at new initiatives that will improve the lives of residents in the community, things that might look simple but are important.

Once such plan, Finnikin shared, is implementing a solid waste management programme throughout the community, with the biggest project on the agenda being to work together with the Spring Village Heights residents to regularise the unplanned development that has happened in that community.

“Jamaica Broilers has since put in a new road leading to that community, and we are in the process of installing solar lights to show regard for the hundreds of families living there,” he said.

Looking ahead, Finnikin said he has dreams of seeing Spring Village being a place where persons can go about their business without fear, everyone living in a neighbourly fashion, and where there will not be a repetition of last November’s horror.