The National Library of Jamaica Fights Human Trafficking with Poetry and Self-Defence

What a fascinating headline that is! Quite a combination, all adding up to a week of empowerment for youngsters from stressed communities, along with teachers, caregivers, and youth workers. 

A young girl receives a certificate from the National Librarian of Jamaica on completion of a self-defence/poetry workshop.
Kristina Blake receives her All Flowers Are Roses certificate from Beverley Lashley, National Librarian. (Photo: National Library of Jamaica)

This week is Trafficking in Persons Week in Jamaica. I am not sure if many Jamaicans have fully grasped the meaning, depth, and significance of this issue, here on this island. It still needs to be translated, explained and clarified. Nicole Dennis-Benn’s novel Here Comes the Sun is a vivid portrayal of the corruption, the exploitation, the criminality. It is so often hidden, misunderstood, in the shadows. So I am happy that this was the focus of the National Library of Jamaica’s (NLJ) fourth All Flowers Are Roses session. Here is more, from the NLJ:

Participants in the 2019 Summer Program, “All Flowers Are Roses.” At left, in the pink T-shirt is National Librarian Beverley Lashley; at center in white is Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison, who conceptualized the idea. (Photo: National Library of Jamaica)

NLJ fights Human Trafficking with Poetry and Self-Defence Training

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

The National Library of Jamaica brought down the curtains on the 2019 staging of its All Flowers Are Roses: Poetry and Self-Defence Series on Friday, July 19, 2019. At the Open Day event, excited participants showcased the fruits of a week’s worth of sessions on Poetry, Martial Arts, Human Trafficking and Mental Health Awareness.

To lead sessions on raising awareness of Human Trafficking, the NLJ partnered with Pursued International, a woman-led initiative targeting the elimination of Human Trafficking in Jamaica through an emphasis on counseling, mentorship, and empowerment. Other partners were the Jamaica TaeKwonDo Association and the Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network.

Students performed original poems, demonstrated self-defense techniques, and shared their new knowledge of the rising challenge of Trafficking in Persons and the dangers of human trafficking in Jamaica.

All Flowers Are Roses participants perform their poem ‘Bondage’ at the Open Day on Friday, July 19. (Photo: National Library of Jamaica)

Davia Ellis, a health and family living teacher, reflected on her experience, “Before coming here I always thought [human trafficking] was something far from us in Jamaica…at times it was overwhelming to hear the realities… No longer will we wonder ‘What are the authorities doing?’ because we will be so busy helping vulnerable persons in our communities to run from Human Trafficking through our words…our poetry”.

This is the 4thstaging of the unique program conceptualized by Poet Laureate of Jamaica, the illustrious Lorna Goodison. Goodison expressed her delight at the positive impact the series has had since its inception in 2017. Plans are underway to publish the original poems written by participants in an anthology to be released in 2020.

Cutting the cake to celebrate the conclusion of a poetry/self-defense workshop for girls in Kingston, Jamaica.
L-R: Stacy-Ann Smith, Founder of Pursued International; Beverley Lashley, National Librarian; Abigail Henry, Director of Special Programmes, NLJ; Jo-anne Archibald, Principal Director for Culture, MCGES; Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica; All Flowers Are Roses participants Ramona Mortley, Collin Haynes, and Amra Miller cut the celebration cake at the Open Day Event, held on Friday, June 19, 2019. (Photo: National Library of Jamaica)

Classes for children (ages 10-17) and workshops for teachers, caregivers, and youth workers were held July 15-19, 2019 at the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions. Funding for the series was provided by JMMB, GraceKennedy, and JAMCOPY.

In Jamaica, Trafficking in Persons Week is being observed July 21-27, 2019, while the UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons will be on July 30. For more information, please contact the National Library of Jamaica at 876-967-2494 or

Participants in a self-defence workshop for girls, organised by the National Library of Jamaica.
Kayla Palmer and Colin Haynes demonstrate self-defence techniques. (Photo: National Library of Jamaica)

5 thoughts on “The National Library of Jamaica Fights Human Trafficking with Poetry and Self-Defence

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