Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde’s one wish for Christmas is that Barbadians put down their weapons.
“As Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment, my wish is for the young people of this country to put all the weapons of destruction in a bag, a box – I don’t care what container they put all these weapons in – and put them away, bury them. That is my one Christmas wish,” he said.
The Minister’s passionate plea for young people to choose peace came hours after the police released the names of two shooting victims involved in two separate incidents in Christ Church last evening.
Brandon Allamby, 19, was shot in Evelyn Terrace, Golf Club Road, and 52-year-old Colin Wooding was wounded in Silver Hill Drive, police said.
On Tuesday, Jaquan Stoute, 21, of Marl Hole, St Michael was reportedly stabbed while at Briar Hall in the same parish.
Minister Forde said he wanted nothing more than to see the nation’s young people follow a more wholesome path, stressing there was no benefit in doing wrong.
“There is another path and that path is the path of success, of productivity of realizing your dream by doing the right things. And I often say that when you stop doing the wrong things the young people of this country will have a Usain Bolt moment as it relates to the right things.”
Most of the 27 murders so far this year have come as a result of gun violence, and Forde, MP for Christ Church West Central, said he hopes the young people will give the nation the gift of peace this Christmas season.
Last month, acting Police Commissioner Erwin Boyce noted a decrease in crime involving guns while delivering an update on crime in the island.
He said then: “We are registering 166 firearms-enabled crime as compared with 245 for the same period last year.
Boyce also said that the force had been able to recover 69 firearms this year alone compared to the 73 taken up in 2017.
Just last week, the police supervised the destruction of dozens of firearms in the force’s possession.
Today, Minister Forde pleaded: “I hope the young people will give me this gift for not only me but for all of Barbados. In return we are going to give them the tools of empowerment,” Forde said, adding that it is a painful situation with which the country must grapple.
“I am making a special appeal to young people because it hurts my heart when I see the level of crime and violence in this country. It is not a happy Christmas time for us in Barbados if we recognize that almost daily there is an incident where a young person’s life is being threatened,” Forde said in his message to the youth.
“At this special Yuletide time we are hearing about shooting incidents and I am making a special appeal to young people on behalf of Barbados to put down the weapons of destruction and take up the tools of empowerment,” he said.
“I am begging you, there is an alternative and we will do everything in our power to ensure that young people in this country become positive young people and that they can do like Kofi Annan said ‘punch above our weight’,” Forde stressed.
“We need the right things to put out the wrong things in this country… The right things could outrun the wrong things,” he said.
Forde’s comments came this evening at the Youth Mainstreaming Program – Digital Media Film Showcase held at the Ministry of Youth and Community Empowerment’s Sky Mall offices.
The minister said a programme like the digital media programme is one of the avenues that can help young people to shun violence.
“This digital media program is only one of the programs that we will use to make sure that the young people here use the vehicle to chart their own destiny,” he said.
The Youth Mainstreaming Programme is one of four programming channels in the Division of Youth.
Launched in June 2008, the programme seeks among other things, to empower Barbadian young men and women to realize their fullest potential while promoting the building of social capital.