Friday, November 13, 2009

Doing What We Can

Portmore Youth Information Centre

Meet Kayden. I was very impressed with this young man and not just by his lofty views! I met Kayden at a Youth Information Centre in the municipality of Portmore, Jamaica.

He volunteers daily at the centre keeping the statistics around the use of the dozen or so computers contained in the converted ship container that serves as the Youth Centre. Due to the high crime rate overall in Jamaica the centre is surrounded by fencing and barbwire as are most homes and businesses.

Kayden has completed Part One of a computer technician's course and is a pro at keeping the centre's computers up and running. I asked him if he had a computer at home and embarassed he said yes but that he needed some parts to make it work. Unfortunately he isn't working and cannot afford to take the second part of the training he needs in order to gain employment in the field he loves. So everyday he comes to the centre and volunteers his time. He is obviously a very bright young man who in spite of high unemployment rates and a lack of resources has resisted the pull into a life of crime that gobbles up the majority of young men between the ages of 15 and 24.

But he is stuck.

Kayden is not alone. Opportunities are limited for young men in Jamaica. That is why only a very few remain in school past the age of 16. The rest drop out, join gangs, fight turf wars, deal in drugs and become victim to the 3rd highest murder rate in the world.

That is why my partner is heading up an initiative in Jamaica, bringing much needed leadership training to young men and women hoping to inspire them to make changes in their lives and to make a difference in their communities. I'll keep you posted on their progress.

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