I started working at JET in September 2010. Eighteen months later, and I am moving on. I am going to be working at another environmental agency, where hopefully, I will be able to use what I’ve learnt at JET.
JET Info Centre
In 2010 and 2011, I worked at JET as the project coordinator for its annual Beach Cleanup (BCU) event. After last year’s event, I was given the opportunity to stay on as JET’s new Development Consultant with the task of raising funds to support the organization’s day to day and future needs.
On Wednesday August 31st, 2011. Christine and I journeyed to Portland to conduct a workshop in Fairy Hill on Sea Turtles. The workshop was scheduled to start at 11 am so we left Kingston at about 7:30 am to avoid any delays as we did not want to be late.
It reminded me of a Geology field trip from my days as a UWI undergraduate, trekking through the bush, no apparent destination, with a knowledgeable tour guide in search of some elusive ‘thing’ or the other. This time that ‘thing’ was an iguana, or maybe even a crocodile, and the knowledgeable tour guide – Dr Byron Wilson. Having awarded the Jamaican Iguana Recovery Group the Jamaica Environmental Action Award for Wildlife Conservation earlier this year, the JET staff was invited by the group’s leader, Dr Byron Wilson, to see the group in action. This meant a trip to South Camp in the Hellshire Hills, a research station used by UWI’s department of Life Sciences to study the ecology of the area and a base for the conservation group.
I must say that when Carlette described the RISE Kidz Club project proposal for the EFJ in March when I first arrived at JET, I was apprehensive. Building appreciation for nature in children at risk? Teaching 120 8 – 14 year olds about the environment? How could I possibly relate? Then it was May 24th and Downtown Kingston erupted into a war zone. I watched the local coverage and thought to myself – this is where they want me to go to teach kids about the environment? These kids have enough to worry about without me coming and telling them to stop catching birds.
After five years of working at JET I was finally able to get out of the office and visit schools participating in the Schools Environment Programme. For those of you who don’t know what a school visit involves, basically we visit the school and go through their action plan for the term and for some the year. We review the progress made since they were last visited and assist them with ideas for projects or activities.
My experience with JET began on September 1st, when I nervously drove into the parking lot about half an hour early for my interview. Under the advice of my mother, I was looking very professional, fully decked out in heels and jacket. Imagine my surprise when I walked in to see everyone wearing jeans! So now I’m nervous AND overdressed. Great. Ah well. My interview began promptly at 10, and though I have no idea what I said to Tamoy and Suzanne, I must have made some form of sense, because around 2 that afternoon, Tamoy called me to say that I got the job.
I don’t think there’s any place hotter in this world than Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth and if there is, I don’t want to go there. Even at night when Jan and I would walk along Old Wharf Beach to look for turtles we would always come back from each patrol drenched in sweat and dying for water.
The situation in Kingston is now outwardly returning to normal - offices are reopening, there is traffic on the roads and there are no sounds of gunfire. Tragically, however, the number of people who died during the combined Army/Police operation now stands at 73. The press was allowed a limited tour of some parts of the area earlier today, but their reports have not revealed anything new. Mr. Coke remains at large. The Red Cross is leading a humanitarian response to the situation in Tivoli Gardens and the residents who have been able to speak to the press, continue to tell of atrocities and loss of family members. Their stories have so far not been corroborated.
Many friends and supporters of JET have called or e-mailed us asking for an update on the situation in Kingston, so I thought I'd post updates on our blog.
A basic background is: Over decades, there are parts of Kingston which have become "garrison-ized" to deliver homogenous voting blocs to both political parties. These communities are enclaves, led by area leaders often called dons, they have links to both major political parties, deliver political support at elections and receive access to lucrative government contracts. Also, over many years, the garrison communities have become armed and also have their own sources of income via drugs and legitimate businesses and it is felt that the past political control of these areas has been lost.