2017 is well under way now, and so far it is looking challenging. You could say, however, that each year presents us with new challenges (and many old ones, hung over from the previous year). I asked some women about their expectations and hopes for Jamaica this year. Here are their thoughts, and I would like to thank them all for responding…and for caring about Jamaica. P.S. There are moments when I share Tanya’s “abject and objective terror” – but, let’s see what the year brings.
Tanya Batson-Savage, Founder/Editor, Blue Banyan/Blouse & Skirt Books: I envision that Jamaica comes a few steps closer to making its capital city, a City of Literature – the literature found in books, in the spoken word and in music. Jamaica was once a place that celebrated thought and meaningful discourse at all levels. We’ve lost that in the hype and I think being a more literary city, a city of words and thought can help us reclaim that and rekindle our understanding of “word, sound, power” and help us uncover more of the half that’s never been told. I also want each Jamaican to remember the national pledge and that each Jamaican tries to make it a reality and play our part in “advancing the welfare of the whole human race.” In the face of my abject and objective terror of what tomorrow may bring, I hope this small rock remembers and embraces its power as an agent of change – the legacies of Garvey, Marley, Tosh, Mary Seacole, Una Marson, Bedward and so many others.
Shelly-Ann Dunkley, Environment Communication Officer, WISYNCO Group Limited: There are a lot of changes I would like to see for Jamaica – less crime, change in the treatment of women and children, reduction in poverty, growth of our economy and more. My deepest desires lie in the growth of our country through sustainable development. We have to find and create a sustainable balance between business and environment.
Indi McLymont-Lafayette, Media and Development Communication Specialist and Director of CHANGE Communications Limited: I would like to see meaningful and transformative communication between men and women in Jamaica – dialogue that results in increased respect, less physical and sexual violence and more teamwork for the sustainable development of Jamaica.
Angelique Morgan-Walker, Volunteer and Women’s Activist: What I envision for 2017 can be viewed as deeply spiritual and prophetic. I am a woman of God and a firm believer in the principles of Christianity, and when asked what I visioned for 2017 for myself, the story of Ruth and Naomi came to me. The year 2016 started for me as a year of planting, or the year of Winter. It was the year that everything I did, learned, endorsed, and participated in, equated to the planting of seedlings right before the Winter season; as the year progressed I felt further and further snowed in, almost immobile, slightly stagnant, where all your resources to survive came from what you had in your hands. And so for 2017, this year is a year of harvesting. The year when most of the seeds planted in previous years will bear fruit. It is the year where like Ruth, I will find favor with whatever I put my hands to.
Tina Renier, Youth Activist: My vision for Jamaica is one that is keen on social justice while creating an environment of equality for all citizens in order to break barriers of discrimination. I also would like to see a Jamaica in which we genuinely invest in the well being and welfare of all young people, not as a marketing strategy or a political tool, but as a serious step in garnering successful national development.
Sasha Rowe, Journalism Student, Northern Caribbean University: For 2017 I would love to see a reduction in crime. Also, I’d like for Jamaica to get back to the place where we look out for each other. Lastly, I would love to see changes made to the health care sector in Jamaica( better facilities and waiting time reduced. It can be done!)
Suzanne Stanley, Deputy Executive Director, Jamaica Environment Trust: As JET wraps up last year’s project activities and begins to embark on new opportunities and leadership in 2017, I look forward to navigating this period of transition within the organization with the amazing team of “Jetters” as we work together to achieve our collective vision for Jamaica, which is… As members of a regional and international community, Jamaicans are knowledgeable and concerned about the environment and this is reflected in their lifestyles and behavior, environmental issues are given high priority and are an integral part of national development objectives, and natural areas are valued, protected and properly managed.
Christine Staple-Ebanks, Founder and President, Nathan Ebanks Foundation: Each year my concern grows about how little we as a nation seem to value our children and youths. I weep during the graduation season, as I know that after the prompt and pageantry of the exercise, thousands of youths are “let loose” on the streets with no hope or prospects of furthering themselves or gaining meaningful employment. Then we are “shocked” when crime and violence spirals out of control. So, for 2017, I would like to see some things done differently… I would like to see a stem in the violence against, and murder of our children. As a nation, we made a promise before God and all mankind to stand up for justice, brotherhood and peace… I would like to see definitive steps being taken by all our citizens towards upholding this promise. I would also like to see more opportunities opening up to our youths to work diligently and creatively, to think generously and honestly. I would like to see a kinder, gentler and more loving Jamaica for 2017.