NEWARK, United States — US Senator Robert Menendez speaks in support of immigration activists protesting the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme in Newark, New Jersey. The decision represents a blow to young undocumented immigrants, also known as
The now celebrated Trench Town resident, Tremayne Brown, who risked his life in September of this year to rescue a 12-year-old boy who was being washed away in a canal in their lower St Andrew community, is the Loop Jamaica Personality of the Year for 2017.
By Bernard Headley
n Wednesday, March 8, the National Organisation of Deported Migrants (NODM) was fully engaged — alongside Jamaica government National Security agencies and other NGOs — in receiving another batch, 32 in all, of British charter-flight deported migrants: our involuntarily returned citizens, but their presumed offenders.
The local and international media were, too, at the police receiving depot. NODM President Oswald Dawkins was interviewed extensively, his responses brilliant, on RJR’s ‘Beyond the Headlines’.
I am, though, uncomfortable with one portrayal of NODM in the Jamaica Gleaner story on the day in question. The story, entitled, ‘More deportees – Jamaica braces for their arrival from UK today’, has a line that could inadvertently give a false impression. The writer describes NODM as “funded by the British High Commission”.
The average reader could walk away from the story thinking that NODM is an entity owned by and which functions at the behest of the United Kingdom and the British High Commission in Jamaica.
Not so! While there is some truth to NODM owing much of its existence to the support of the BHC, particularly in areas of capacity building, the organisation is an autonomous, independent, civil-society entity. It represents an aspirational movement that was founded close to 10 years ago by a group of deported migrants from the United States.
Welcoming home and receiving fellow ‘deportees’ from Britain, the US and Canada is simply one set of activities that NODM engages in. We are striving to become a self-sufficient umbrella social enterprise, consisting of several social businesses that will occupy, in multiple productive ways, hundreds of our involuntarily returned citizens. One board member has, for instance, successfully partnered with NODM in Irish potato and carrot farming ventures.
I invite interested individuals and agencies of civil society, as well as conscientious business entities, to partner in and/or contribute to this our project of redemption and building a safe and inclusive Jamaica. You may email, write or give me a call.
Prof. Bernard Headley, PhD
NODM Cofounder & Board Chair
Morning everyone. My name is Gary Brown. I’m the organization’s Support Service Coordinator/IT Manager. Before I go off boring you with what it is that I do. I would like to extend a word of encouragement. For some of us, waking up in Jamaica is the harsh reality we have to come to grip with. I know it is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it’s down right hard and trialing, especially when we’re lacking the crucial support we need to bounce back. However, I implore that we don’t look at it as a damning situation, but an opportunity to rewrite out stories. Beef up our stories and thicken the plot.
What am I getting at. I remember sitting in an Alternative To Violence class in Oneida, and the facilitator, one of my Muslim brother name Akil gave us an exercise. The exercise was to list of 10 things that we’re strong at, and 10 things we’re weak at, and then have us work on that list until our weakness became strong. My greatest weakness at that point, was that I barely new how to read and write. I would stumbled on the pronunciation…and we all know how that is, when you can’t pronounce a word it’s difficult for you to spell it. This was my situation. So now I’m faced with challenging my self, because I hated the fact that I could barely read and write, and I abhor that others knew about it. What I started doing was to take 10 words per day that I didn’t know from the dictionary, learn them and use them in sentences. Within months I noticed my vocabulary have improved and I started recognizing words before I’m actually there. I developed such an affinity with words that I started writing, songs, plays, books, and screenplay.
The reception I was hoping for when I got here weren’t there. However, the fire in me haven’t waned. I’m constantly beefing up my character, and rewriting the main plot in my story. Recently I was entrusted with maintaining the organization website, but because of the platform it was created on, it posed a challenge. I wasn’t getting the results that I wanted to see. So I was tasked to create a bolg page for the organization…and wah-lah. I did. Which now gives me the confident that yeah, I can rebuild the organization’s website if it deem the practical thing to do.
My point is this, never be afraid to recreate, rewrite, edit and rewrite again if it is what it takes to ensure our brighter tomorrow. Each one of us is unique in our own rights. So it’s up to us to tap into ourselves and bring out that fire in us and light a blazing trail for those to come after us follow. We can achieve this individually or we can come together collectively and be the force that change the way society look at us as involuntary return migrants (IRM).
In essence, be the author of your very own story. Bless!
Deportees (Things Change) is the product of the lyrical ingenuity and extraordinary talent of Mark Myrie, otherwise known as Buju Banton. It provides an interesting narrative of the bounded rational choices that some Jamaican migrants made which led to their involuntary removal from overseas jurisdictions and the challenges they face upon re-entering Jamaican society.
However, offenders who are wise enough to put into place plans to ensure their survival upon removal are also likely to be affected by deportee-related stigma. Stigmatization can be extremely disabling, sometimes even resulting in the exclusion of persons who are talented.
Opposition Senator Lambert Brown succeeded last Friday in putting the Government on the defensive. He questioned sharply fellow senator and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson Smith on what other, compromise plan(s) the Government had in place now that it has said no to the UK offer of £25 million to build for Jamaica a new maximum-security prison, which would house a substantial number of Jamaicans condemned for incarceration in the UK.
It so happens that, two or so weeks after the new Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government was installed, I wrote and sent an unsolicited, regular-citizen ‘memorandum’ to Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Minister of National Security Robert Montague, suggesting alternative ways of utilizing the UK funds. Here is a lightly edited version of the memorandum. My sense, and my hope, is that it’s not too late for the administration to incorporate, at least in principle, items I proposed back then.
1. The two maximum-security prisons Jamaica has are inhumane, national embarrassments, which we should hastily put under wrecking balls. One of these prisons is on Tower Street, in Kingston; the other is in Spanish Town, St Catherine. But will hoped-for relief from our terrible crime situation come from building a larger and more expensive version of these two monstrosities? The weight of the criminological evidence suggests not!
2. That which we expect from prisons ought logically to determine the kind of prison we build, or use UK funds to help build. Reflexive talk of building a new facility for mass incarceration would be going in the wrong direction, regardless of how ‘modern’ the facility would be. We’d be going in reverse to worldwide progressive trend of ‘de-prisoning’. Besides, mass prisons are known breeding grounds for reproducing more crime, especially organized gang crimes. Just wait, Professor and Gleaner columnist Carolyn Cooper has whimsically, but correctly, warned, ’till deported yardies from Britain meet up’ in our new mass prison with the ‘yardies from yard’, should the prison be built.
3. Receiving for additional imprisonment in Jamaica Jamaicans who offended in the UK or in any other foreign countries simply not on. Rather, we should continue to receive these offenders (on condition that they are indeed bona fide Jamaican citizens) as convicted deported migrants (‘deportees’) who, with stepped-up support from major deporting countries, and intensive treatment and prudent monitoring, can be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society.
On Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 I was asked my Mr. Dawkins to accompany Ms. Green and Mr. Jones to Open Heart in Montego Bay to get a Mr. Rochane Ives and transport him to Mandeville. I was briefed about a call that had came in from Open Heart about Mr. Ives “acting out,” ranting gibberish and smashing things, saying that he wanted to go Mandeville. It was indicated that he might be unstable and warranted psychological assistance. Thus my purpose on the trip was to observe, stay on the alert and be ready to offer assistance in case he acted out during the operation of vehicle.
With great concern and brave hearts, we set out at 1:30pm. We arrived in Montego Bay after five. As we approached Open Heart Emergency Shelter, I immediately noticed a well put together young man, sitting off to him-self, patiently waiting for something or on someone. He was decked in pin stripe slacks, designer shirt and pointy toe dress shoes.
“Ah him dat?” Asked.
“I’m not sure? Ms. Green replied. She was not the Care giver on the trip the day before when Mr. Ives came in at the Donald Sangster Internation Air Port. “Dwight, is that Rochane?”
Mr. Jones looked. “Him same one.” He said with a slight smirk.
We alighted the Van. A man in his late fifties opened the gate for us.
“Him a gi trouble all day.” The man said to Ms. Green.
Mr. Jones. “Come we come fe him”
A female staff called Ms. Green inside, saying they need to talk. Mr. Jones went inside the Dorm to see one of the female resident. My eyes were on Mr. Ives the whole time. He was looking at the van real hard. I saw his eyes flickered as if he just remembered something. He got up and walked briskly, not wasting a step, over to the chain-linked and stared hard at the front of the van. He pulled away from the fence and went inside the dorm. He came back out shortly with his coat folded over his forearm, real proper like. He came over to the gate where I was and just stand there looking at the van.
Ms. Green came of out and gave hugs to two of the female staffs. Mr. Jones emerged from the dorm.
Mr. Jones. “Anjuline, you ago look fe Sarah?”
“Aint she working?
“No. She in deh. Me just go look fe her.”
“Oh. I didn’t know she was here.” Ms. Green started for the dorm. Sarah came out and greeted her. They spoke briefly.
Mr. Ives started pacing back and forth from the gate to the dorm where Ms. Green was speaking with Sarah. “Theresa May said it’s over. Then Mr Ives said you better talk you better talk before they say am mad you better talk. Ms. Green looked at me again, then we both looked at Mr. Ives bewildered.. “Don’t say anything, before they think I’m crazy.” He said, and stared off into the star spangled sky.
At that point, I was like , ‘shit, we in fe a long nite!’
As Ms. Green finished and turned away from Sarah, Mr. Ives said “You are one of them. Teaming up with the British to kill me on my own soil?”
Ms. Green, stunned “Pardon?!”
“Nothing. It’s fine, it’s fine” He looked back up at the sky and pointed. “See that drone?”
We all looked up.
Mr. Jones obliged him. “Yeah.”
“It’s mine.” He said matter of fact.
Ms. Green turned to me with concern. “It’s gonna be a long night.”
“I know.” I said.
As we got outside the gate, he turn back and said to the staffs. “Thank you. And don’t worry. I’m going to buy you a new shelter.”
We got in the van to leave. Mr. Ives buckled his seat belt. His posture struck me as one who was brought up in a well mannered home…where everyone ate dinner at the dinner table with knife and fork.
Ms. Green looked back at him. “You alright?”
“Yes.” He opened the window. “You see that drone? It’s mine. It’s going to be following us. Its mine don’t worry about it. Its mine.”
“Okay.” Said Mr. Jones.
“Just thought I let you know.”
Mr. Jones reversed the vehicle and pulled out into traffic. It was now six something…
“I’m a third degree Mason. Blow your horn.” He command.
Mr. Jones was preoccupied with Ms. Green, keying in the direction on the cell phone via the SATNAV software, so his command went unheard.
“See those stars. See that moon. See that drone. They all mine. They will be following us. Don’t worry, they’re mine. They’re mine. I’m a third rank Mason. Blow your horn” The horn still didn’t blare. “You not going to blow your horn… He refuses. He refuses.”
We were heading in the wrong direction. The voice on the SATNAV came on, instructing us to turn right. A car horn blew and Mr. Ives quipped, “Thank you. He wasn’t listening. “
“I’m a Mason. Are you a Mason” He said to Mr. Jones.
“I’m a Mason. I gave you an order and you refuse…”
The van fell into silent.
“It’s fine, it’s fine.” We drove for a while before he spoke again. “Someone just became the richest guy in Jamaica?
“Who?” Asked Mr. Jones.
Mr. Jones chuckled. “That’s weh me a try do from me get deport. Ah mean, me woulda love fe be rich like Michael Lee Chin and dem man deh. You just come, wah…not even two day…”
“Never mind. It’s fine, it’s fine.”
“Me try find David Ives inna de book and him not in it.”
“It’s fine, it’s find. I can find my way.”
Mr. Jones navigated the van through Long Hill. We stop at a shop and Mr. Jones and I got out to buy inhaler. I noticed Ms. Green had a pensive look on her face when I got out, so I went back to the van.
“I’m not comfortable alone.” She said.
“You want a soda or something?” I said to Mr. Ives.
“Yes, please.” He said very politely.
“I’d like a Pepsi. A Pepsi would be fine”
“You can come inu.”
He unbuckled his seat belt and followed me into the shop.
Night had fallen on us. The narrow roads were over grown with pine grass and shrubs and dark. In Junction, St. Elizabeth, Mr. Jones negotiated a turn around a deep corner. A herd of cattle came out into the road way.
“Dj watch dem cow yah.” I said.
“Cow, cow, cow.” Ms. Green said like a mantra.
Mr. Jones slammed on the brake and swung the vehicle to avoid collision. The van hit the rear of one of the cow. Fecal matter splattered the wind screen. Mr. Jones brought the van to a stop and got out and assessed the damage. The cow kept moving like nothing had happen.
Mr. Jones got back in the van. “Nutt’n nuh damage.”
We continue on.
It was already after ten when we go to Mandeville.
“Rochane, we inna your place now. Sure you know weh you a go?”
“Me already know how dis ago turn out inu.” He turned to Ms. Green. “You, you jus’ love de adventure.
“What do you mean?”
“A mean. It’s a simple solution to it inu. Where you going, Rochane?”
“Anjuline type it in pon de satnav.”
Ms. Green tapped at her phone. “It’s not coming up.”
“Try Mandeville to havendale.”
“It still not coming up.”
“Rochane, weh we ago?”
“Take me to the college. I’ll find my way from there.”
“A lot of tings change in sixteen years inu, Rochane.”
“Did the college change?!” He said sarcastically.
Everyone burst out laughing.
Mr. Jones. “You, you got dat. I guess I walked into dat one. Ah bwoy!
When we got to NCU we turned left instead of making the right onto the campus. I noticed Mr. Ives peering astutely out the window to his right. So I joint in. Just Yards away from college there’s a signed that reads, “WELCOME TO AVONDALES HEIGHTS” I informed Mr. Jones that we just passed the turn. He reversed and we entered into the affluent, gated community of Avondales Heights. Mr. Ives was uncertain of which road to take to get to the house which raised some concern. However, after we got the first gate, he decided to try the other gate which is located on a hill on another street. He explained that the house belongs to his grandmother and father, and the latter entrance led to his grandmother house. We called and hunk the horn. No one came. After spell we decided to go back down and try at the first gate. The lower gate had a Hawkeyed security sign on it along with an intercom system. Ms. Green and Mr. Ives tried the intercom. No one answered. Mr. Jones blared the horn, still no answer. Ms. Green and I decided to go and knock on couple of the neighbors door and inquired if they know of a Dave Ives living at the house. One neighbor, a man said he doesn’t know anyone living in the community and the other didn’t bother to come out. I saw a couple returning from going out to grab a late night snack. I alerted Ms. Green to their approaching. Just then my phone ringed. It was Mr. Dawkins inquiring how we was doing. The couple informed us that people don’t come out of their house at night, and we were lucky to see them. They suggest we go up to the Guest House and asked. Mr. Ives and the young man head off to Guest House. By the time we get in the van to follow behind them, a car pulled up baring the Hawkeyed. Both occupants had their hand on their weapon. Ms. Green introduced herself and the organization to them. She told them the reason we are there and that relaxed them. They told us to follow them to the Mandeville police station for further assistant. We did. However, it was a waste of time. We ended up journeying back to Kingston were Mr. Ives was dropped off at the Open Arms Drop in Center. I got home ten minutes after one that morning.
While talking to the Hawkeye Security Officers, I noticed the damage to the right hand side of the van bonnet. I brought it to Mr. Jones attention and took a picture of it.
I was still asleep when Ms. Green called at 10:39am and informed me that we might be going back on a trip later that day, because she had made contact with Mr. Ives relatives. She had went on facebook and Looked up Mr. Ives. When his profile popped up, she then proceeded to prob through his friends list for a last name that reoccur frequent. When she came upon the reoccurring name, she instinctively in-boxed a male and a female, inquiring and expressing the nature of her communication, and then eagerly waited their reply. The respond was immediate, and it was from his uncle, who expressed grave concern and gratitude for Ms. Green adeptness and aptitude. She was also able to spoke with Mr. Ives mother and learned the circumstances surround his un-timed return to Jamaica.
At 10:44am, Mr. Dawkins called me to confirm the trip. I put myself together and went and met Ms. Green at her home and took her to Open Arms where we met up with Mr. Jones. We then started off on my second day journey with Mr. Ives.
“You ate?” Ms. Green asked Mr. Ives.
“You want a beef pattie?”
Mr. Jones interjected. “Juicy Beef or Tasty?”
“Juicy Beef… not tasty.” He replied undecided. “No, I take a Juicy Beef.”
I couldn’t resist letting a small smile creep over my face. Marveling at the fact that Mr. Ives had been away from the soil of his birth from he was 12 and are very much aware of the Juicy Beef Patti enterprise.
When we reached the Tasty in Cross Road, Ms. Green asked. “What kind of patti you want?”
“Chicken and beef.”
“Chicken and beef, please.”
We was traveling on the Manchester thorough way when he said to Mr. Jones. “You took the worst road in Jamaica to drive. Why you didn’t take the coast road?”
Ms. Green craned her head back at him. “Why? You wanted to see some scenery?”
“He should have drive Montego Bay way.”
“Dat too far.” I quipped.
“How. I see. Was hoping you’d go around the whole island.”
We all laughed out.
“Tell you what. One day we’ll come get you and take you on a tour.” Said Ms. Green. “ How ‘bout that?”
“Fine.” He started stare out the window. “Should’ve drive Helshire way though.”
“But we just did.” Mr. Jones chipped in. “Dat is where we was coming from. See dat high way we were on?”
“Really.” Mr. Ives cutted in. “I didn’t saw any sea on it.”
Again I laugh to myself.
We pulled up in the total gas station in Luana, Black River, about a mile and a half from where the van hit the cow the night before. Ms. Green called Mr. Ives aunt for direction. The aunt told her to come to the Luana Housing Scheme. I got out and approached and group of older folks and asked where was Luana Housing Scheme. I was told that it was three of them and the first one started directly behind the gas station. I got back in the van, and we drove three entrances down to Luana Housing Scheme III, where we met with Mr. Ives aunt who was on her way to meet us.
“Is this her.” Ms. Green asked.
Rochane stuck his head out the window. His aunt walked right up to him and smile that sincere smile of a caring mother. “Hey, Rochane. I’m so happy to see you.”
This is where I actually saw Mr. Ives smile for the first time, and I mean really smile.
“Come. Get in. We’ll drop you at the house.” Ms. Green said to the aunt.
I opened the door for her and she got in and hugged her nephew with warmth. She gave us direction to the house. The house was stately identical grill work to the house in Avondales Heights.
We got out and Mr. Ives hugged his aunt again. “I love you.” He then turn to us and said. “Thank yous for everything.” He stretched out his arm and gave me a pound.
Ms. Green said to the aunt. “So you’re good with clothes and stuff for him?”
“Yes, His mom send over some money earlier, and his room his all set.” Her eyes got a little misty. “I’m so happy to see him.” they both walked towards the house, while the aunt took out her phone and started taking pictures of him.
She resonated the sentiment in us. While each and everyone will not be as fortunate as Mr. Ives, it does brought a certain feeling of fulfillment when you know one is being embraced by their love ones and you know it’s genuine. Starting out, it seems like reuniting Mr. Ives with his family was a hopeless cause, because it was understood that he had been away for sixteen years and have not kept communication with anyone here in Jamaica and no one in the United Kingdom knew that he had been involuntarily removed from the country. When asked if he know anyone number he could call be it here or over there, to call and let them know where he was, he said no. Hence, we were left grappling with what to do. However, we have come along way from postmarked letters and rotary phones. Modern technology and social media, combined with our commitment to the cause kept us on the road into the wee hours of night, and the sweltering heat of the day to ensure that this young man reunited with his family.
His family’s happy, he’s happy and we are happy. Overall, it was a job well done.