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JSIF supports ‘Break The Silence’ campaign to protect children

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Kingston, Jamaica, January 27, 2017 – The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has provided support to the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) ‘Break the Silence’ campaign in the sum of $11.9 million through the Basic Needs Trust Fund.

The Break the Silence campaign is an initiative with a multi-pronged approach to protect children against abuse.   It aims to reach victims and their families with a message to speak out and denounce child abuse and break the stigma of shame that surrounds the issue of child sexual abuse as a first step to help.  It was developed after an island wide survey showed that for every 10 adults who admitted that they knew about cases of child abuse, only one was willing to come forward to make a report.

Project Manager of the Basic Needs Trust Fund, Celia Dillon, tells JIS News that the JSIF is assisting the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, under which the campaign falls, to inform persons on the importance of reporting instances of child abuse.  She informs that the JSIF funded the extension of the campaign last year at a cost of $4.8 million, with an additional $7.1 million towards the production of a storybook, which is to come on stream. There is also a training segment to be undertaken. “We assisted the OCR directly in their school tours, focusing mainly on (six) of our schools targeted under the Basic Needs Trust Fund… teaching the students how to report, identify and respond to instances of abuse against children,” Ms. Dillon explains.  The extended ‘Break the Silence’ campaign ran from June to December 2016 and included radio and television advertisements, and information posted on social media platforms.

The six schools were: Mandeville Primary, Christiana Moravian Primary and Infant, Old Harbour Primary, Ocho Rios Primary, Discovery Bay All-Age, and Brown’s Hall Primary.  The school tours took the form of open day discussions with representatives from the OCR, Office of the Children’s Advocate and the Child Development Agency.  “Guidance Counsellors in those schools have informed that there has been an increase in cases reported to them. On one side that is sad to hear, but on the other side, the school tours worked and the kids felt comfortable in going to their guidance counsellors to let them know what has been happening to them,” Ms. Dillon says.

She notes that the local television and radio aspect of the campaign is finished and efforts are being made to get more funding.  “We are constantly trying to see if we can get additional partners to help us along this journey. We see how relevant it is…we are seeing too much of it in our papers now and our children absolutely need help,” the Project Manager adds.

Meanwhile, training workshops are to be held with Ministry of Education Regional Officers, principals, teachers, and Parent-Teacher Association Executives on how to conduct readings with students using the storybook.  Ms. Dillon tells JIS News it is hoped that the book will be released and launched by April this year. The book has received approval from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and will be added to the Family Life curriculum.

The Storybook package will include: a full colour illustrated storybook, accompanying DVD with illustrations, narration, sign language translation, music and an accompanying teacher’s guide. The message of identifying, responding and reporting abuse is appropriately packaged into a story to suit the target audience of children eight to 12 years old.  There will also be 60 Braille copies of the book, as requested by the Ministry’s Special Education Unit, for distribution in schools.  “This book is targeting vulnerable groups, so it is extremely important that when we are getting this message out there, it gets to all persons who may be affected by cases of child abuse,” Ms. Dillon says.  A mandatory parents’ forum is to be held in each school one to three months after principals and staff have been engaged.

The Break the Silence campaign was first launched during the period 2015-16 and it featured several prominent celebrities and business leaders encouraging persons to report physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children.  The programme, supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), was a direct response to the ‘Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices’ survey on child maltreatment in Jamaica, which the OCR commissioned with technical and financial support from UNICEF.  The OCR received more than 44,000 reports of child abuse for the period 2007-2014.

Persons can make a report of child abuse to the OCR by sending an email to: report@ocr.gov.jm; or by visiting the four OCR offices located in Kingston, Manchester, St. Mary and Westmoreland.  Persons can also call the OCR toll free at: 1-888- PROTECT (776-8328) (Flow) Tel: 908-2132, 908-2143 (Flow); 618-5888 (Digicel landline); 754-9133 (Flow); 631-8933 (Flow); 631-8908 (Flow); Cell: 822-7031 (Flow) 878-2882 (Digicel); and Fax: 908-2579.

 

Photo credit: Jamaica Gleaner

Bahamas News

Over 68,000 STAYED HOME in Bahamas Elections; We have BEST and WORST for Voter Participation

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – The just-concluded General Election in Bahamas has presented a new shift in governance.  The former ruling part, Free National Movement, lost nearly all the electoral seats it secured in the 2017 general elections.  However, this seems a swap of the Progressive Liberal party’s score in the 2017 general elections in which the former ruling party (FNM) won nearly all the parliamentary seats.

68,000 STAYED AWAY

While the FNM secured 35 out of 39 seats in the 2017 ballot, leaving only four slots for the Opposition, the 2021 elections presented “new day” with the Opposition clinching 32 parliamentary seats, leaving the former ruling party FNM with only seven slots.

However, the election results showed a significant drop in voter turnout compared to the 2017 election results. Out of 194,494 registered voters in The Bahamas, only 126,414 voted, translating to 65 per cent voter turnout.

PREVIOUS ELECTION HIGHER

This was different from the previous election in which 160,407 out of 181,543 registered voters cast their ballots, translating to a remarkable 88.36 per cent voter turnout.

Being the first election in the island nation since the Covid-19 struck the Caribbean; the dismal voter turnout could be attributed to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in The Bahamas and the current countermeasures taken by individuals to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

It could also be voter apathy.

BEST IN SHOW

Despite coronavirus prevalence in the country, North Andros & Berry Islands, Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and Mangrove Cay & South Andros constituencies recorded an impressive voter turnout of 77.99 per cent, 76.11 per cent and 73.06 per cent respectively.

North Andros & Berry Islands had 2,126 out of 2,569 registered voters cast their ballots, followed by 1,255 out of 1,622 in Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and 1,706 out of 2,164 registered voters in Mangrove Cay & South Andros.

VERY LOW SHOW

The bottom three constituencies in terms of voter turnout include Bamboo Town, which had 3,436 out of 5,838 (58.63 per cent) registered voters cast their ballot, followed by Garden Hills with 3,033 out of 5,287 (57.09 per cent), and   Central & South Abaco falling at the bottom of the list with 1,844 out of 3,271 (55.96 per cent).

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COVID Works programme launched by Ministry of Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development

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#TurksandCaicos, September 21, 2021 – The Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development, the Honourable Akierra Mary Deanne Missick and the Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development team are pleased to announce the launch of the COVID WORKS Programme, that went live on September 1, 2021.

The Programme seeks to support many who have lost jobs and livelihoods, while providing labour intensive work for economic exchange opportunities for persons to be engaged.

Works are set out in three (3) levels and comprise a variety of categories example, cleaning, road works, demolition and general construction to name a few.

Level 1 – value $1,500 – $9,999

Level 2 – value $10,000 – $39,999

Level 3 – value $40,000 – $70,000

Turks and Caicos Islanders with valid business licenses are also being encouraged to submit proposals to the Public Works Department for consideration for works throughout the islands. 

Commenting on the launch of the programme, Hon. Missick said, “We are very much mindful of the impact that restrictions introduced by Government in an effort to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, has had on the islands, many continue to experience financial hardship. Whilst, the hospitality and construction sectors in Providenciales have rebounded well, as an Administration, we cannot rest knowing that other industries are still limping along.

As a result, during the remainder of this financial year, the Turks & Caicos Islands Government has now launched the COVID Works Programme to provide an opportunity for Petty and Small Contractors to assist the Government in the enhancement of our communities, through programmed works, to the benefit of all of us as residents”.

The Minister went on to note, “This Programme is set to the tune of US$5,000,000.00, and works will be rolled out across the Islands in batches, as we have to ensure that we do not go beyond the allotted expenditure and that financial oversight and transparency are maintained.”

The initial batch of works for South Caicos, which comprised the following, was returned and evaluated on Monday, September 13, 2021 and included:

South Caicos 

Demolition- Queen’s Shed

Demolition- Distribution Concrete Tank

Demolition- Old Clinic Building

Demolition- DECR Building

Demolition- Library Building

Repair of Water Cistern

Works for Grand Turk included:

Grand Turk 

Demolition- Blood Bank Building

Demolition- Geriatric Ward Building

Demolition- Kitchen Building

Demolition- X-ray Building

All returning bids must be sent to the COVID Works email at tcigworks@gov.tc

Kindly note that as of Monday, September 20, 2021, the following works are planned to be released:

Grand Turk: 

Beach Cleaning (Eastern portion of Grand Turk)

Street Cleaning (All areas)

Providenciales:

Beach cleaning (Areas of Shore Club and Five Cays)

Street Cleaning (All areas)

A number of other works for Middle & North Caicos, as well as Salt Cay will be released shortly. This is a six month program that will spread throughout the TCI and we encourage persons to continue to register via tcigworks@gov.tc or the local Public Works Department and District Commissioners’ offices, to be eligible for this opportunity.

These works will continue on a monthly basis and the programme will come to an end in March 2022.

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Bahamas News

BAHAMAS: Nine new Cabinet ministers sworn-in

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis today introduced the first set of new Cabinet ministers with portfolios covering the Attorney General, Foreign Affairs, Education, Works and Public Utilities, Health and Wellness, Government Affairs, Agriculture, National Security and Legal Affairs.

The nine ministers were sworn-in on Monday 20 September 2021 by Governor-General the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith during ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Center.

“They are the initial members of a Cabinet which will reflect the breadth and depth of the competencies and characteristics of our team: experience combined with innovation; expertise combined with a willingness to see things anew; integrity and a strong sense of purpose,” said Prime Minister Davis.

“They are receiving these appointments because of their determination to get things done.”

Among the new Ministers sworn-in on Monday were:

  • Senator the Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, Attorney General;
  • Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service;
  • Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education, and Technical and Vocational Training;
  • Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities;
  • Dr. Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness;
  • Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Government Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate;
  • Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs;
  • Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; and
  • Hon. Jomo Campbell, Minister of State for Legal Affairs.

“I am confident that these first-appointed members of our Cabinet team are ready to deliver on the promise of a New Day for our Bahamas,” said the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Davis pledged to move with urgency to address the economic and health crises that are faced by The Bahamas.

Many thousands of Bahamians are out of work, people are losing too many loved ones to the COVID-19 virus and Bahamian schoolchildren are falling behind, said Prime Minister Davis.

“I want to be clear: we are not here to tinker at the edges of these problems,” said the Prime Minister.

“We are here to meet them head on.”

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