Community Drivers: Some residents becoming changemakers in ‘Sav’ Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

In recent times, the once peaceful farming parish of Westmoreland has been experiencing an uptick in crime and violence, and some concerned residents there want to see a transformation, and the parish return to a being peaceful one.

One such resident is Santane Little Foster, a teacher and entrepreneur in New Market in Savanna-la-Mar, who wants a community that is free from crime and violence, and where the children can play and learn in peace and safety.

Foster made her wishes known following a community consultation facilitated by Project STAR to develop a community transformation plan for the communities of Cooke Street, Seaton Crescent, Harmony Town and New Market Oval.

“What I am hoping for are better communities where the crime rate will go down, and where the children will be stress-free, trauma-free and comfortable going outside and playing and going to school,” she said, noting that the current environment is not conducive to that.

Little Foster, who operates the Little Star Achiever Basic School in the parish, said she is not happy with the situation in the parish, as there does not seem to be a value placed on education, and poor parenting skills are also a problem.

“I am here (at the consultation) because I want to be part of that change. I want to be someone who helps to create that change where the children are concerned. I want to see our children grow up and become better people in society. I want to be someone who contributes to the development of our children,” she said.

Beanchor Crigland, a customer service representative from Queen Street, also wants to be involved in making a change in her community. She would like to see some community centres established so that young people can be engaged in homework programmes, which she said will assist in the educational outcomes of children in the parish.

“We are lacking some of these centres. So, I am looking towards these being established,” she said.

Crighland said she is passionate about being a changemaker in her community.

“I want the community to excel, and by doing good, you also help others to do good as well,” she said, noting that she helped to mobilise people to attend the consultation.

Saffrey Brown, project director of Project STAR, said the planning sessions provide an outline of the community transformation plan for Savanna-la-Mar.

“Once the plan is fully prepared, the community members and stakeholders involved in its development will present the action plan to the community to get consensus and sign-off. The aim is to start implementing the community transformation plan within the next 60 days,” she said.

The session was a continuation of a series of planning consultations held with the community members to develop the draft action plan. The sessions were informed by data, such as the profile and make-up of the communities, including the crime data, the recurring violence-related incidents, infrastructural development needs, and the challenges faced by the communities.

Project STAR is a five-year social and economic transformation project that targets under-resourced, underserved communities experiencing high levels of crime or violence. Through a comprehensive consultation process, communities assist in determining their own needs, which are further supported by extensive data and analysis.