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Volunteers wanted to help PALS bring peace

Published:Tuesday | August 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The Peace and Love in Society (PALS) lobby is marking its 20th anniversary this year with a call for more volunteers to help do what it simply wants to do: Nurture a peaceful Jamaican society.

PALS General Manager Janilee Abrikian knows this is a hard, complex task in a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world, with more vicious acts of violence every day and increasing hopelessness.

However, she is insisting that Jamaica does not have to sink into such an abyss as she justified PALS's efforts in schools, violence-ridden communities, and in the lives of hardened criminals.

Create non-violent culture

According to Abrikian, "We can create a culture that is not violent, but the various stakeholders have to play their part."

Throughout the existence of the peace initiative, the PALS general manager notes that satisfaction comes through a multitude of interventions all geared at transforming lives.

"It's particularly satisfying when we see especially young people adopting a mindset that if they make unwise choices, there will be negative consequences. For example, a young person who chooses not to join a gang or a young person who chooses not to retaliate or to seek revenge," said Abrikian.

PALS, a not-for-profit organisation, develops materials and course content to suit varying populations, e.g., for the training of police school resource officers and working with the security forces in community policing in areas such as west Kingston.

Attempting to rebuild

However, according to Abrikian, doing all that is necessary obviously requires resources, a need that will see the organisation attempting to rebuild its volunteer corps.

"We intend to work really hard at doing this between September and December this year," said Abrikian.

She added, "Retired persons who could serve as trainers, guidance counsellors, social workers, persons with office skills are some of the categories of persons who would be useful to PALS."

Part proceeds from the Gleaner 180 5K Run, scheduled for September 13 in downtown Kingston, will assist PALS in achieving its goals.