Barbadians must take greater responsibility for the behaviour of those, particularly young people, living around them.
This was the stern message from Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde as the Government tries to get a handle on the country’s spiralling crime situation through various community initiatives.
He was delivering an address as over 60 people from the Silver Hill, Christ Church area graduated from the ministry’s Community Impact Programme with new skills in nail technology, soap and lotion making, balloon artistry, hair braiding, and weaving. Women made up the majority of the participants.
While Forde stressed such programmes would strengthen efforts to reduce unemployment in communities across the island, he suggested that voices of reason in the society also need to play a role in the stabilization and strengthening of the areas where they live.
“Too often, we can make a difference in the lives of our young people and we sit back and do nothing. There is always the thought… that if the child isn’t mine and is no family to me, it doesn’t concern me. But when he goes to the hospital after an incident, the taxpayers pay the bill. When he goes to prison, taxpayers pay the bill. So, who does it affect?
“When the community is living in a state of fear, when you don’t feel that sense of comfort, it affects each and every one of us,” said Forde.
“The communities must understand their relevance in society. If we don’t have good, strong, working and viable communities, it results in the failure of Barbados.
Forde also expressed concern at the disparity between young men and young women taking an active role in the ministry’s community initiatives.
“I am happy to see a lot of women in the programme… but we want to encourage our young men too, because our young men right now are facing a serious challenge of disengagement and we want you ladies to encourage the husbands and boy children in your lives to come on board and do something positive, because I am sure if they are titillated by the fairer sex, they would acquiesce,” he suggested while promising to widen the scope of the programmes being offered.
Concern about increasing unrest within local communities was also expressed by General Manager of the Trust Loan Fund, Gerald Amos as he delivered the feature address. He called for more “adaptive and flexible” strategies to combat the problem.
“Communities do not all face the same challenges, but because we are a small island, what happens in Bridgetown, what happens in the Pine, what happens in St Philip and indeed, in St Andrew, affects us as a nation.
“We must have an equal sense of responsibility as to how we are going to address the problems that confront us and what we must never do is to play catch up. But we must recognize that we now can identify where our problems are and to work on them, bringing solutions to everyone involved,” he suggested.
“We must look at some of our Caribbean nations. We are now battling a surge in crime, but our neighbors were battling such surges long before us and we must see what they have been doing with their solutions,” he suggested.
To the graduates, Amos pledged the unwavering support of the Trust Loan Fund in their quest to develop and expand upon the skills gained in the programme for the survival and success of their businesses.