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Jamaican Gov’t to expand HOPE Programme



#KINGSTON, February 13, 2020 (JIS):    Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government is to expand the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme, in partnership with the private sector.

            “I will be meeting with members of the private sector on February 14 to see how they can come on board, to create opportunities for employment and engagement for young people, where the Government will provide the training and the supervision,” Mr. Holness said.

JIS Photo

 “If the private sector could help us with the stipend and the opportunities and the areas of work, they get the benefit of the labour, while the persons who are under the programme, they [would] get the benefit of the training. So, we are going to engage the private sector to expand the programme,” he added.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a HOPE Volunteer Project event, held at Jamaica House on February 13.

Launched in May 2017, the HOPE Programme provides educational and job opportunities for young people. The initiative is targeted at persons aged 18 to 24 who are not employed or enrolled in a school or programme of training.

So far, more than 20,000 persons have been trained through the HOPE Programme.

“If the private sector truly comes on board… who knows, maybe in the first year we could add 2,000 to 3,000 more [young people] and as it goes along, between private sector and government, we could possibly be engaging, on a yearly basis, 50,000 youngsters. That would truly put a dent on this whole business of being an unattached youngster,” the Prime Minister said.

Meanwhile, he informed that the Government is now moving to build out the volunteer aspect of the programme.

Some five recipients of the Jamaica Labour Party National Scholarship will be completing 200 hours of volunteer work per year for the duration of their studies. The volunteer work will be facilitated through the HOPE Volunteer Project.

The five scholarship recipients are Daniel Meggo; Sebastian Lawrence; Nile Anderson; Raimona Gowie-Roberts; and Demar Brown.

“There is always potential for volunteering, and volunteering is such a powerful way of not just giving back or paying it forward, but it is a powerful way of learning yourself, of developing your own character and personality by giving service,” the Prime Minister said.

JIS Photo

For his part, National Coordinator of the HOPE Programme, Lt. Col. Martin Rickman, said the objective of the HOPE Volunteer Project is to build out a cadre of young persons across the country who are more engaged in nation-building activities through their involvement in volunteerism.

He informed that the scholarship recipients will be working in various agencies across government.

“This volunteerism also provides the participants with real work experiences that can aid in their own professional development whilst you are learning the basic of skills and learning what you are doing at your various institutions of learning,” Lt. Col. Rickman said.


“The goal is to engage youth in nation-building through their participation in voluntary services, which will foster a lot more positive attitude and values towards the nation’s development and the creation of an educated population of youth across Jamaica. This particular programme is for approximately four months’ duration to achieve 200 hours of voluntary service,” he added.

Meanwhile, participant in the volunteer programme and scholarship recipient, Sebastian Lawrence, said that through volunteerism, he hopes to aid in poverty alleviation and help in the propagation of environmental consciousness.


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Caribbean News

Guyana to build regional food hub



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer


#Guyana, September 29, 2023 – Guyana is making moves to become the primary food production center for the Caribbean, going ahead with plans to develop a USD$14 million regional food hub.

In fact, as reported by the Observer, the facility has already been identified on the country’s Soesdyke /Linden Highway.

Guyana seems to really want this to become a reality and Zulfikar Mustapha, Agriculture Minister, expressed this, highlighting what Guyana has over its Caribbean sister Islands.

“We want Guyana to be the food hub, the primary production hub of the Caribbean so that we could supply the Caribbean.  What we have, our colleagues in the Caribbean don’t have.  We have arable flat land and abundant fresh water,” he said, adding that with the multi-million dollar US investment, the country can, “modernise the infrastructure, and start ramping up the productions.”

Also, the Agriculture Minister pointed out that the project is geared to make for a more competitive local Agriculture industry as well as developing high-yielding varieties, pest-resistant and climate-resilient varieties.

Additionally, in the facility’s development, Guyana, Mustapha said, will work with Belize.

In fact, with more on Belize’s involvement, Dr. Ashni Singh,  Finance Minister, informed that the Government is in talks with the Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley about sourcing inputs from northern Brazil and transporting them through Guyana to Barbados and vice versa.

Singh also reportedly revealed that the project will help develop the growing logistics industry in Guyana.

Considering regional food import cost, with this development, Guyana is the leading Caribbean Community country pushing ahead with plans to reduce the multi-billion dollar regional food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025, the Observer says.

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Caribbean News

Cayman makes striking policy change to include more blood donors



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer


#CaymanIslands, September 29, 2023 – The Cayman Islands overturned a policy that banned blood donation from people who visited the island from or resided in countries where “mad cow disease” existed. This was revealed by Sabrina Turner, Health Minister in Parliament, as reported by CNW Network.

People who resided in Britain from 1980 to 2001 and those who had blood transfusions in the UK after 1980, can now donate blood.

Due to recent risk evaluation, and the current protocol for blood donors, many nations, CNW reports, have re-evaluated and adjusted similar guidelines regarding blood donation, as Cayman Islands has now done.

The now initial restrictions on blood donations for the country was called for and was important as at the time of implementation, “mad cow disease” or as it’s scientifically called, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), was at-large affecting not just cows, but also people, who are able to contract “a version of BSE called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD),” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says.

The likely reason for the Cayman Islands’ targeted population of those affiliated with living in the UK or getting blood transfusion in the UK, was because most of the people with vCJD lived in the UK, as highlighted by the FDA.

Also, as BBC says in a 2018 report, 1 in 2000 people in the UK is thought to be a carrier of the disease, even though some who are carriers don’t go on to develop symptoms.

However, the change in Cayman Islands’ policy does not mean the disease is no longer out there.

In fact the FDA said, “as of 2019, 232 people worldwide are known to have become sick with vCJD, and unfortunately, they all have died.  It is thought that they got the disease from eating food made from cows sick with BSE. Most of the people who have become sick with vCJD lived in the United Kingdom at some point in their lives. Only four lived in the U.S., and most likely, these four people became infected when they were living or traveling overseas.”

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Caribbean News

Bwa Kalé movement striking back against gangs, nearly 3,000 murdered



Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 


#Haiti, September 29, 2023 – In eight months, nearly 3,000 Haitian people have been slaughtered in their home country due to the upsurge and uprising of gangs in the republic which is struggling to hold its democracy in check.

‘Bwa Kalé’, it’s a vigilante movement that has sprung up in Haiti, and the UN says it is driving up murders.

Born out of fear and distrust in the state according to the UN, the movement is a violent strike back against the gangs that are terrorizing residents.

A recent report following an expert visit detailed it.

“Certain groups have formed allegedly to protect their neighbourhoods from gangs.  In some instances, these groups have summarily executed people suspected of being gang members.  The Bwa Kalé movement demonstrates the population’s lack of trust in the State, especially in the police and the courts.  The expert has learned that some members of the police and the judiciary have been complicit with gangs.”

Despite the obvious fear among residents, the UN is warning them not to take justice into their own hands.  However, that is easier said than done as Haitians have demonstrated their feelings of abandonment by fleeing the island in mass numbers on illegal voyages and standing up to the gangs themselves.

In the same report, one said: “The State is absent, there are no police or other officials operating there.”

According to AP, a new report to the U.N. Security Council indicated that 2,728 intentional killings were recorded between October 2022 and June 2023, including 247 women, 58 boys, and 20 girls.  Bwa Kalé is blamed partially for the increase, as life in the country is described as unbearable.

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