Edi­tor’s Let­ter

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Kayra Wil­liams

I was struck by a young man’s eyes too sad to be­hold. His fa­ther had re­cently gone miss­ing at sea. I’d been walk­ing to a Gros Islet bak­ery close to where I re­side when the friend I was with called out to the teen, en­quir­ing about news of his dad. The young man shook his head. There had been no good word in the two weeks since his fa­ther had dis­ap­peared. My friend later told me that two other peo­ple who had been with the miss­ing man on his boat were also un­ac­counted for. One of them was also a teenager, like the man’s son.

As we walked near the Gros Islet play­ing field it was dif­fi­cult putting him out of my mind. I then started think­ing about an­other young man, just 21, also from my com­mu­nity, who had been shot mul­ti­ple times in the wee hours of Fri­day, Jan­uary 6. He was trans­ported to hospi­tal where he was pro­nounced dead. Fam­ily mem­bers re­ported that he had been shot while asleep on a chair at his home; a case of mis­taken iden­tity, they be­lieved. I glanced over at the play­ing field where other young men were en­gaged in a lively game of foot­ball, and re­called some­one say­ing that Jeremie, the 21-year-old who had pos­si­bly died be­cause a gun­man had misiden­ti­fied him, was also an avid foot­ball fan who played reg­u­larly at the com­mu­nity play­ing field. Life would go on as usual with­out him.

As we walked I thought about a 16-year-old stu­dent of Choiseul Sec­ondary School who nearly lost his life ear­lier this month af­ter in­gest­ing a poi­sonous sub­stance. He was re­leased from hospi­tal days later but not be­fore his fam­ily had given a de­tailed ac­count of what had tran­spired. They said he had writ­ten a note that read in part “there is noth­ing to life when you lose some­one . . . no one knows the pain you go through . . .”

An­other teen was killed last week­end in a shoot­ing in­ci­dent that also claimed the lives of two other men. He went by the name of De­quan and was re­port­edly at­tend­ing a bar­beque at a garage in Jacmel when he was shot. De­quan was one of five peo­ple killed that day.

The above-men­tioned in­ci­dents are only the tip of the ice­berg of crime and de­spair. The ca­su­al­ties are not al­ways teenagers but more and more of them they are fall­ing vic­tim to a sit­u­a­tion that long ago had spi­ralled out of con­trol. There is a cloud of hope­less­ness hang­ing over the heads of our most vul­ner­a­ble, and that was ev­i­dent to me as I looked into the eyes of that first-men­tioned young man from Gros Islet who had no idea where his fa­ther was, or whether he’d ever see him again. In that brief mo­ment I read in his eyes the present and fu­ture of far too many young Saint Lu­cians.

What do the rest of us do? What can we do per­chance to save them from fu­ture hor­rors like those ear­lier cited? What do we do at this point to con­vince young peo­ple ours is not an un­sym­pa­thetic so­ci­ety, con­cerned only with self?

As Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet ob­served at his first press con­fer­ence of the year, only when we all de­cide to no longer turn a blind eye to crime, when we do what­ever we can to as­sist the vul­ner­a­ble in our so­ci­ety, will we see a change in our cir­cum­stances.

We’re caught in a do-or­die sit­u­a­tion. But es­cape is pos­si­ble, if we truly want to!

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