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SANITATION SHOULD BE AN URGENT DEVELOPMENT CONCERN IN JAMAICA

This is one of the most important pieces of research that I have done,on behalf of the USAID/OFDA & Habitat for Humanity implemented urban disaster risk reduction project BRACED (Building Resilience And Capacities against emerging Disasters). It is part of the project that never came to fruition partly because of the shame associated with admitting that you do not have a toilet so that you can access the assistance and then the persons contracted to handle this aspect messed up. So, it all fell on ME. I had to do the community education around sanitation with all prospective beneficiaries. The process led me to lay hold of the training from international experts in sanitation, SARAR Transformacion. The training was SUPER INTENSE and brought together development practitioners, working around water and sanitation from Trinidad, Jamaica and Guyana. Little did I know that it would be a training that would change my life and work forever (but that is for another blog).

When we think s…
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Why I Do Not Look Like The Picture At The Back Cover Of My Book

So, I wrote a book!

It feels weird but absolutely exhilarating to finally say that "I AM AN AUTHOR!"

I say this with absolute humility but with a profound sense of pride and accomplishment. This has been long in waiting and those who are closest to me know that this has been a labour of love and a journey of fear.

Though this book is just being published, it has been LONG completed. So what prevented me from publishing?

FEAR!!!!

My fear was not about my competence. I have been blogging for almost a decade now and had even won a Jamaica Blog Award in the category of Best Lifestyle Blog. So, what was this fear that completely paralyzed me and kept me sitting on this dream that I had to turn my lemons into something that is sweet and adds value to others? The truth is I feared telling my truth. Truth can be daunting. And, sometimes offensive. Truth makes you vulnerable. I feared baring the not so glamorous side of my life - being naked and vulnerable. I feared that people may u…

Development Work Takes HEART: My Reflection on Transforming a Community

BACKGROUND

When I just went into Naggo Head to work, I was the community’s 4th mobilisation officer. I was being offered a salary of JMD$60,000.00 BEFORE TAX. This could not even meet my monthly expenses. However, I saw an opportunity to not only make a difference but to learn and grow. The less than competitive salary package and the perception that Naggo Head was a difficult community were perhaps determining factors in the high attrition rate of mobilisers.

Naggo Head, St. Catherine (See figure 1 above)is a flat peri-urban, coastal community vulnerable to flooding; storm surges, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes and droughts etc. It is located in the municipality of Portmore, in the parish of St. Catherine. The data collected by MGI also cited poor drainage, poorly constructed dwellings, use of sub-standard materials, limited (and in some instances no) sanitary conveniences and improper solid waste disposal. These conditions make Naggo Head among the most vulnerable districts with…

NIDS - A Community Development Perspective.

In August this year, I completed an enumeration of the entire Naggo Head, in Portmore, St. Catherine, Jamaica. I had been working in the community for about two years, implementing an urban disaster risk reduction project on behalf of Habitat for Humanity and funded by USAID. The Building Resilience And Capacities against Emerging Disasters(BRACED) project focused on behaviour changes at the community and policy level. We embraced a participatory methodology of learning and teaching and involvement. 470+ of the 500 households participated in the recently concluded enumeration. Some were unable to participate because work schedule didn't allow. Few refused to participate. We collected biographic, demographic data on the household, and data on medical history, health seeking behaviours, sources of income; income brackets; sanitation etc. There was very personal information that people were prepared to give because they understood the WHY!!!!
Two Community Enumerators Collecting Data …

In the Meantime: The Power of the WAIT

Jamaicans have a saying "wat a fi yu, cyaan be un fi yu." It is a suggestion and affirmation that the script is already written. This isn't fatalism but a call for us to be patient while we wait on "IT". Some things come easy. But others take time and all we can do is simply WAIT it out. However, this WAIT is not a passive sitting, wishing that your desires will soon drop into your lap.

Many of us are preoccupied with being successful - landing our dream job and earning the kind of salary that will afford us the quality of life that we have been conditioned to associate with success; that is, the car, the trips to the spa, being able to visit exotic places etc. However, if you, like me, were not born with the proverbial gold spoon in your mouth, you would have by now realised that the journey there is not as smooth as we would like. DREAMING is fine but getting there takes WORK. You have to be able to take the steps necessary to get THERE.


Between DREAM and A…

The Wicked Woman We Love to Hate!

Choose a Caribbean island - any one. There's a mother who's just beat her child with the first thing that her hands fall on. The Caribbean is inundated with narratives of mothers who dare not spare the rod and spoil the child - mothers who dig up ants nest and put their child to kneel in it, on a grater with their hands tied behind their back; mothers who use a hot iron to burn the hand of their thieving child; mothers who go into schools to box up the disrespectful child for answering back teacher and bringing shame to her name.
These are the things that Caribbean mothers do. They do this, not necessarily because they are wicked, but in the name of discipline.

We are a people who have learned violence. It's become part of our social DNA. Our parents learned that violence was how transgressors are taught to do better and behave better. They learned such violence from their parents, and their parents from theirs and their parents from the plantation. The whip is what we le…

Sanitation and Natural Hazards - A Disaster Management Response

The Caribbean has been recently hit by two massive hurricanes, Irma and Maria, causing devastation to property and loss of lives across Barbuda and Dominica. Graphic scenes of the devastation they left in their paths were all over social media and image of a broken Dominican Prime Minister was etched in our minds as he spoke of the devastation of the Nature Isle of the Caribbean. Media houses reporting about the ravages of these "Natural Disasters".

My Blood boiled every time the term "Natural Disaster" was mentioned. It is a natural hazard! A disaster happens when we are unable to cope with the impact of the hazard!! Disaster Management or disaster risk reduction (DRR) helps to reduce people's vulnerability and therefore risk of a Disaster. Example the hurricane is the hazard, flooding is a disaster risk. If people are are relocated from flood prone areas if the flooding occurs (risk) there is nobody affected, hence no disaster. Disaster rests largely on huma…

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