Yvonne McCalla-Sobers (right), convener for Families Against State Terrorism, speaks to members of the media while looking on (from left) are Howard Gough, manager of Patricia House; Joyce Hewett, advocacy and legal reform, Women Inc; Jaevion Nelson and Noelle Ingledew, chairpersons, Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, during a press conference on Tuesday. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer
THE BOARD of Patricia House must go. That is the demand from Jamaica's civil society.
On Tuesday, a joint coalition of Civil Society Forum of Jamaica on HIV/AIDS, Woman Inc, Families Against State Terrorism and Jamaica AIDS Support for Life called a press conference at the Council of Voluntary Social Services' St Andrew offices, to outline the gross negligence of the board of the rehab centre, which they claim was affecting clients and staff.
"The members of this board have consistently failed to protect the rights and welfare of persons who use drugs, persons living with HIV, and other minority groups. In fact, their callous actions have led to the further marginalisation of these already vulnerable populations," noted Carla Bingham-Ledgister, chair of the Civil Society Forum of Jamaica on HIV/AIDS.
The issue stemmed from an incident last year where the board of Richmond Fellowship Jamaica Drug Rehab Centre, which operates the St Andrew-based Patricia House, hired a manager who turned out to have fake qualifications and was abusive to staff and clients. They also alleged that he sexually harassed a female staff member. He was later dismissed and given a reported $500,000 severance package.
Five months of terror
The "five months of terror meted out to them by the new manager" has reportedly continued to traumatise the staff and client, Bingham-Ledgister stated.
The coalition demanded an explanation from the board, but they said, to date, there has been no response.
Based on the "neglectful manner in which they handled the matter", the coalition is claiming the board cannot be relied on to manage the welfare of the clients and staff members.
"We ask you to join us in calling on all the remaining members of the Richmond Fellowship Jamaica board to step down and allow the local representatives of the parent company to install a new board made of persons who have the interest of drug users, persons living with HIV," Bingham-Ledgister added.
Some questions come to mind to me and a few others upon seeing this article in the Gleaner though as to the hypocrisy and selectivity of issues here, so the Board of Patricia House erred and are being called to book but what about some of these same organizations represented here at this press conference, shouldn't they be called to answer to some pressing issues as well?
Where were they when the homeless msms were locked out and left to fend for themselves last August and the subsequent civil disobedience the men had to take to get attention or when the original shelter idea was closed?
Why did anyone from this so called co-coalitionists group as it were speak out publicly against this or call a press conference seeing that the matter was made public and exposed by the Jamaica Observer?
Is it that some of the same persons present here were the ones who gave the edict to have the men banned along with a canine team at the gates of the organizations, namely Jamaica AIDS Support for Life instead of trying to deal with the group of homeless males directly?
Why is it that till this day any serious attention has been given to the men to solve the issues of bad behaviour as the reasons given for taking the banning action in the first place by this coalition or its representatives?
Do you find it strange how selective these organizations and individuals spring into action on issues when LGBT matters that need urgent attention are left to supposedly die down hoping no one will pay attention?
Now that the main spin doctor of diversions does not reside here anymore what will be used as damage control to now divert us from this matter as it shows a clear professional hypocrisy? whenever questions are asked of groups to account to the population convenient ways are found to move us in another direction.
In regards to terror, what about the terror and homophobic violence the homeless men have had to endure while on the streets as organizations continue business as usual ignoring the men while dealing with more well to do msms instead in a grand data collection reporting exercise while our brothers who really need the frontline work are left to end up in criminal activity in some cases or commercial sex work to fend for themselves? MORE HERE from GJW
Only a few weeks ago a homeless young man (one of the many new comers to the population) was beaten in the Spanish Town area and left with a broken leg after being accused of being gay, if it weren't for concerned persons outside the community and a couple church sisters from a nearby church organization who fortunately looked passed the orientation issues and saw humanity he would have had to fend for himself. Thanks to their kind hearts.
Other incidents are still coming to hand across Kingston in particular and one in St. Ann in December 2011.
When is this hypocrisy and over looking of this section of our population going to end? Very few of the total population when last I checked numbered some fifty plus men have not been able to either find hosts to stay with or find alternative legal income earning activity while the others still are nomads in their own country. A couple have been able to leave Jamaica via asylum seeking with some financial help from community members but that is not enough to put a dent on this problem.
Think on these things people, the foolishness continues and then a false image is presented to the world as if work is being done overall.
Even the great super powers of the world see a need to deal with homelessness just recently the United States White House announced it is to hold a conference to discuss the matter by itself on March 9, 2012
The March 9 conference will provide advocates, community leaders, and members of the public an opportunity to engage with the Obama Administration on housing and homelessness issues that impact LGBT Americans, including the youth served by the Ruth Ellis Center. Participants will receive updates from Obama Administration officials, connect with federal government resources and opportunities through workshop sessions, and provide valuable feedback through the “Open Space” process.
“We are honored to join with the White House for this historic conference, taking place in one of the cities most impacted by LGBTQ homelessness,” said Laura Hughes, Executive Director of the Ruth Ellis Center. “Nationally, about 40 percent of the 1.7 million runaway and homeless youth self-identify as LGBTQ. In Detroit alone, up to an estimated 800 homeless LGBT youth are on the streets every day. The Ruth Ellis Center works daily with our city’s and state’s leadership to help improve outcomes for the homeless LGBTQ youth we serve. It sends a powerful message to now have the commitment from the Federal government to discuss these issues.” MORE HEREAlso see: INCREASE IN MALE HOOKERS - More men doing 'business' in New Kingston says the Star ............ but
Some considerations ..... would you assist someone who has been displaced ???
UPDATE: a petition has been launched by the former Chairman of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life with support from the rest of the clan yet no such action was done or entertained when they banned the homeless from their property.
Peace and tolerance