We are marginalised – St Thomas youth
‘UNDETACHED’ HAS been used to describe the youth of St Thomas many a times.
Cries of being left out of major decisions concerning the parish have been on the tongues of the young people for years.
But with the rise of the ‘be the change you want to see’ mentality, people have been stepping up to the plate in an attempt to improve the parish’s state of affairs.
One such person is 30-yearold Fatima MuwwakkiI.
A resident of Bull Bay, St Thomas, the young woman is on a mission to empower the youth.
“If you are to ask a youth from St Thomas today how they would describe it, many would say it’s the ‘forgotten parish’, one of the poorest on the island perceived by many Jamaicans as underdeveloped.
The parish has certainly endured its share of trials.Youth living here have expressed that they are yet to feel the representation required. The high level of hopelessness throughout the youth cohort within St Thomas is a cause for concern,” she said.
MuwwakkiI, who is the president of the St Thomas Parish Youth Council, told Rural Xpress that she has hosted many youth-empowerment sessions across St Thomas and has represented the parish at many forums, locally and regionally.
But she hardly wanted to talk about herself. At the forefront of her conversation was the parish’s needs.
“This parish, more than many others, needs urgent assistance with our education system, cultural retention and suitable location to host youth sessions. Unemployment is of great concern. Many of the youth are unable to assess, for various reasons, the necessary education and training to make them employable. Where youths are afforded the opportunities that make them employable, they still experience challenges as there are limited job prospects, hence our youth end up turning to migration (local, regional and international), and more so to illegal activities in their quest to ‘eat a food’,” she told Rural Xpress.
She added: “Attention needs to be given to access to grants for young entrepreneurs, the availability of more tertiary institutions and more so the means to access such learning, the restructuring of bathroom facilities in many primary schools which suffer from the usage of pit latrine, the increase in human-relations advocates, specifically those that deal with child-care matters,” she said.
MuwwakkiI also pointed out a need for greater collaboration on policy within the parish.
According to her, the youth feel like a third wheel as she believe that their involvement in parish affairs is insignificant.
“St Thomas youth lack leadership, so I position myself with the aid of my youth empowerment officer to offer the leadership that is in dire need. My ultimate aim is to ensure youth development and involvement in policy and decision-making within the parish,” she said, adding that there are a lot more things that she would like to be doing in the parish to impact youth, but is constrained by financial burdens.
When asked about the inspiration behind her interest, MuwwakkiI revealed that she is a Muslim.
“In Islam, there are five pillars one of which is charity/voluntarism. It is important that I look out for the less fortunate. Mentors are few within the parish,” she said.
MuwwakkiI, she says, means ‘The Trusted One.’