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Working for the greater good of all

Jamaica Observer 2020-02-13 12:49:56

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The big challenge for the community group, Women of Manchester, is to get their members to consistently work together as one, for the greater good of all.

“It doesn't just happen…everybody want something for themselves. You have to really inspire people to want something for somebody else. That is our big challenge,” mused President Myrna Bailey.

“Very often we hear that Jamaicans are like crabs in a barrel [but] people generally want things for themselves and [as a society] we have to teach, starting with the basic schools, teaching people what it means to depend on each other and to want for each other what we want for ourselves,” Bailey, a retired social worker and community activist, said.

Her comments, in response to questions from the Jamaica Observer, were made at the annual general meeting of the Women of Manchester in Mandeville, attended by representatives of five community groups across the parish — Mizpah, Somerset, Richmond, Ellen Street, and Georges Valley.

Formed in 2017 by mostly retired social workers, teachers, and other professionals, the organisation targets women in rural Manchester communities and uses empowerment and education as basic tools to foster a culture of self-help and cooperation, aimed at developing higher standard of living for these women.

“If you empower, if you educate, things can get better,” explained Lise Boufford, a Canadian who has lived in Manchester, for many years.

Thus far, Bailey is satisfied that the organisation has been making progress.

As part of the process a shade house has been set up in Mizpah where seedlings, including peppers, onions, and Irish potatoes, are nurtured for distribution among the members.

“When they plant and reap money goes back to the family and a percentage goes to the organisation to buy additional seedlings for the next crop,” Bailey said.

The next big step is for the Women of Manchester to be formally recognised as a non-governmental, charitable organisation.

“If we become a charitable organisation, we will be able to attract funding internationally and from more local sources,” Bailey said.

— Garfield Myers