Today I had the bitter-sweet privilege to attend a funeral for a 14 year old boy struck with cancer. I say bitter sweet because it was a very sad day for many and yet we can be thankful he is out of pain. This young man touched the hearts of many, always with a bright smile on his face. Yet how many of these folks actually know how much trouble he caused his mom? How many knew the pain, hurt she went through trying to raise him? He had been in and out of trouble with assistance from “the system” to try to straighten him out.
You might be saying, “This is no one’s problem but hers”. That could be true; however, I beg to differ. As part of a non-profit organization aimed to bring skills to children (and adults) that can be used throughout life, I find it difficult to watch children “fall through the cracks”. Admittedly, many of my friends will say I am soft hearted, yet no one can deny I put children second only to God. I consistently will say “Children are innocent lives that didn’t ask to be brought into this world. We need to treat them as such.” Is this what we do? Our culture seems to promote young people being “old” before their time. Lost are the days of innocence.
I cannot help but wonder if non-profits, NGOs, and other agencies received funding from all sectors – private, corporate, government – how much different could the world and the next generation be? We see donations being made for many groups, but where are the funds going? What accountability is there? Recently, a large corporation made a donation in the area of $15,000 to sponsor an upcoming “party” event. However, a charitable trust approached this same group to support their efforts in providing sporting and developmental services to other government agencies – This request was denied. Government ministries are saying there are no funds available for developing youth programmes that will help provide viable means later in life. Yet, we hear investing more money in carnival.
Where have our priorities gone? Is it that big government and large corporations are only interested in the “Chicken and rum” attitude St Lucians are known so well for? Why do we make such a fuss that a young person is caught purse snatching if we aren’t willing to invest in means to keep them out of trouble?
I am challenging the government, the corporate world, and private individuals to take notice as to what is happening in our small nation. Take note we spend more money on enticing folks to enjoy fetes, shows, and drink rum than we do on trying to build up the next generation. Do we really need more tragedy? Or can we start developing skills for a better society?
If you are willing to step up to help make a change, then let’s work together to create a future for our children. I am willing to have my email provided by the VOICE editorial department to those interested in making a positive change.