JFJ, South African High Commission Highlight Crises Faced by Children at Public Forum
Friday, July 20, 2012, Kingston, Jamaica – On Wednesday 18th July 2012, Jamaican for Justice’s (JFJ) Child Rights Working Group in collaboration with the South African High Commission successfully hosted a call to action public forum that highlighted the crises faced by the Jamaican children in today’s society, at St. Margaret’s Church Hall.
Commemorating 67 years of humanitarian service by Nelson Mandela, the South African High Commissioner, Her Excellency Mathu Joyini, spoke about the valuable relationships between Jamaica and South Africa as well as between Nelson Mandela’s passion for children and Jamaican society.
Opening with welcoming remarks from Lisa Lakhan-Chen, JFJ Director, the call to action forum traced the state of children in the past, present and what should be worked for in the future. Dr. Claudette Crawford-Brown, Lecturer in the Faculty of Social Science (FSS) at the University of West Indies gave her historical overview of children’s rights over the past 30 years. Randy McLaren, the Executive Director for International Kreative Aktivism Network, (IKAN) described his work with some of the survivors of the Armadale incident of 2009, which struck an emotional chord for many in the audience. Director of Jamaicans for Justice, Alexis Goffe spoke about the common humanity that Nelson Mandela fought for in South Africa, and its relevance in Jamaica by using the word ‘Ubuntu’, which means “I am because you are”. Goffe said “we have a duty to provide each child with a safe, positive and supportive environment to allow the child to achieve their full potential” and cited the atrociously high number of children in juvenile correctional facilities and in lockups, especially as Jamaica approaches its 50th year of independence.
This first campaign is a call to action for the release of all children in police lock ups, the removal of the girls currently being held at the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre and an improvement of all juvenile correctional institutions. This event voiced the problems associated with keeping children in police lockups and adult prisons.
A video of the 67 photographs compiled by the JFJ photography crew was highly effective in displaying the variety of ways in which children are being harmed. Through quotes by Mandela, famous personalities, and facts, the pictures literally spoke a thousand words on this 18th July as many people were forced to think twice about the dire situation for the children in Jamaica. While some were left in tears, other audience members were encouraged to join the movement of advocating for the future of Jamaica.
The forum was successful in holding the audience’s attention for exactly 67 minutes with many audience members reacting in guilt, shock and awe. By showcasing the power of Mandela’s work through his quotes in each photograph and then contextualizing his passion for children in the public discussion on children, the JFJ Child Rights Working Group has set the ball rolling for changes in the way that children are treated and viewed by Jamaican society. The photo collection can be found on JFJ’s Facebook page @ http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/pages/Jamaicans-For-Justice-JFJ/152355694800337