We talked about hunger for a little bit. He said that life is hard sometimes because people can’t find money to buy food to eat. I asked him if he could bear hunger? He said yes! I asked him how he did it. He said you just hold on until you get something to eat.
I thought why should he have to develop this “skill”. He is 14 yrs old. How early do we have to practice baring hunger?
I didn’t know what to say after that. After a while he called me and asked me for $100 to buy something to eat. I paused to think. Should I give him money? I don’t want him to be hungry. Maybe he is hungry. But I don’t like the idea of giving money like this it looks like I have money to give. But I have given so much money here and there already. Giving money like this doesn’t fix anything.
I decided to give him $50 instead. As I reached for the $50 I had a second thought. I have $3000 in here should I give him $1000 and ask him to take $100 and bring back the change? I decided to stick with the original decision. Give him the change I had. I was uncomfortable. I needed some space to work out why I felt like this.
There is a line in the song “who knows ” by Protoje and Chronnix where Protoje says “Food Deh Pon di tree while the youths Nuh have don’t have nuttin to eat” .
I thought about how many times this hasbeen my reality. Except I can just go to the supermarket. It wasn’t until recently that I really understood self-reliance. I should be able to feed myself. I should be able to provide myself with basic nourishment. I live in Jamaica the land of wood and water with a lot of sun so anything can grow.
I have started to learn how to grow things. My greatest success has been learning to grow escallion and add flavour to my food based on the seasoning that I can grow in a garden like ginger, pepper, escallion and thyme. To be self-reliant I need to grow more food so that I am not dependent on cash to eat.
A few months ago my father asked me what my plans were for the rest of the year. I told him I wanted to reduce my dependency to where I didn’t really need a supermarket. To my surprise he replied with a story about how much food he had around him growing up in Portland and that all they needed at the shop was salt.
“Begging” for money to buy food is not a good thing. Needing a job to get money to buy food to eat is not a good thing either.
Youths are looking at life and seeing hunger. People can’t find food to eat because they have no jobs or no way of earning money or they eat very little because they earn very little or they eat poorly because they live on cheap foods. I used to think that a “cup a noodles” and some tin foods was a cheap good way to have something to eat when times were tuff. It was all I thought I could afford so I eat it knowing it had very little nutrition.
We have all been sold something which has taken us so far away from ourselves it has made us dependent and turned the population into markets for cheap food items distributed widely through Chinese wholesales shops in the capital city of Jamaica.
I was talking to a group of sistren in St. Thomas one time and they said to me “food deh Pon the tree yes but suppose you feel like you want something else to eat today? You must get tired of eating the same thing”. I completely understood what they mean and this is another thing to look at.
In Bahia Brazil I was excited and surprised to see a how many different things you could make with coconut and banana and similar to Jamaica just how rich the land was. We can create variety. Our great grandmothers and their grandmothers also wanted variety and they made many of the things we still enjoy today.
All the spaces that we occupy should be growing food. It is an essential practice. It won’t be easy in 2017 because as Ras Takura points out is a “Food war we a fight”. But we need to consider the youth and the future. We have to provide a example for being independent and self-reliant. We have always needed to.
This post is based on a conversation with two boys who came to visit the ISL on Thursday February 5 2015. The conversation started when I tried to stop the two boys from calling another boy a “batty boy” (homosexual). They were shouting at him in a threatening manner. I stopped them and also asked them why they were calling the boy names. The conversation raised the following issues;
Who knows the heart of a 17 yr old boy?
A boy that is not your son. your brother. a family member.
Who knows his fears. His desires. His dreams. His distractions?
Who sees the soul of a 17 yr old boy who wants to be seen.
Who asks the 17 yr old boy what he wants to be…
Who makes a world for a 17yr old boy who wants to change the world?
Reflection after a day of teaching. Kingston. Jamaica. October 1, 2014
This week we are doing registrations for learners for a CXC Mathematics, English and Reading Programme at the Institute for Social Leadership. CXC or the Caribbean Examination Council is the certifying body for Regional examinations. It is the most basic requirement for acquiring a a job and gaining admission into colleges or Universities locally.
Many students graduate from High School without any CXCs and often struggle to get some after or end up having much more limited options for employment because of this lack.
At Di Institute we thought that if we were able to provide them with an opportunity to do CXC subjects, at a minimum Maths and English we would be helping them to open opportunities for employment and further studies.
As we began registration I became more puzzled by the situation and began to question our decision to offer Maths and English or even my view that CXC provided a solution.
We have been talking to youth 14-22yrs and this is what we have been understanding;
Are we trapping youths like these in a cycle of poverty with CXC preparation and qualification for these jobs?
So as early as 16yrs old youth are prepared to go and find a job.
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We have a really big problem with children reading. Last week i observed a few children 6-13 yrs.
This is what we found.
This is a problem we have written many things about and the Government has gotten lots of money to do studies to understand what the problem is an how to address it. Digicel and USAID has supported Enrichment centres across different schools in the island. The Ministry of Education has made improving literacy a priority. Still we have a growing problem.
In another exercise with the children, we did jigsaw puzzles. i noticed that older children 12+ struggled to fit together a 63 piece jigsaw puzzle meant for 6 yr olds.
We have identified some of the following as pieces of the literacy problem in Jamaican children
So where do we start addressing literacy in Jamaica? Or how can we create a programme which we can share to quickly intervene in cases where children need help?