From small beginnings...Jamaica Environment Trust

From small beginnings…Jamaica Environment Trust

so on the palette a turd strip used to come here as a child run up and down on the beach it was a beautiful natural area and I came back in the late nineteen eighties with a house guest to discover this that it had become a garbage dump there was garbage everywhere and I was really ashamed and it was one of the things that really propelled me into the environmental movement you know there were a group of us who started talking about the environment I didn't know anything about the environment we just had concerns and we decided to form a group but our formal registration was in 91 each day I've had young people come back you know after they've come to beach clean up when they're 10 years old they've gone away to college they come back and they show up here and they say how that really open their eyes to certain things have gone on to study marine biology they've gone on to study environmental engineering and so those are the things that I feel you know you're planting these seeds these small seeds that you hope are going to one day be large trees that hopefully no one can ever cut down again I literally grew up at Jack's it has made me into what I am today if it tried to put some soil in there for you right my first recollection would be when Donna came to talk to us access and rahaile was a sixth normal it definitely triggered something inside of me and then I went to university and it so happened that I studied botany and zoology okay Jack was my first real job he's just like my dream job and I was to learn all about the environment and to make a difference and you know i was very very emitted to actually start working at you and notice i look at it it's all just prepared before where i know which is that university of technology so i like to know environmental studies as you take i've always wanted to teach i've always had that feeling inside of me that I could be a teacher and I really wanted to I like to being able to share knowledge with people just under what are they doing with environment education is critical to what Jamaica needs we're a small island state everything that we do is relates to the environment whether everybody recognizes it or not and the key to that is teaching everybody in Jamaica starting with the kids the importance of the environment and a huge objective was to educate educate educate because it was felt very strongly then that once we educate the younger generation it will take a generation to get the change in behavior that we're looking for so that Jamaicans can see how important it is to protect the environment so we started out with an emphasis on education the school's Environment Program was a program that was implemented in primer and high schools across the island and the schools had to conduct activities in managing garbage greening of your school grounds established an environmental Club and doing an amateur research projects our club we are doing quite a number of things we have an awareness program within the club where we celebrate all the important environmental days like worldwide one day we have also done a study on the wetland I have Moon Bay with the girls particularly grade 11 and they do that as well for the environmental section of the biology for the CSEC exam well we clean up school and you know make everything better to the Gardens plants you know props and in well you know that plants the taking carbon dioxide and oxygen so we did all that we find ourselves with students who do our environmental programs and I'm beginning to recognize that those who have been through the high school systems through the school Environment Program who have been exposed to planning projects to be in a part of an environmental club within their school they come with a far greater desire means they're far more valuable in terms of the environmental output from the University when they leave here they always stay within the environment they do a lot more to try and get the environment where they want it to be jet is an environmental watchdog JIT is the environmental conscience of Jamaica in the 21st century under Jets law an advocacy program we provide legal assistance to communities and individuals who are affected by environmental problems so on any given day we'll be contacted by a community a citizen that has some advanced of issue whether it's pollution from sewage or from some development or an ill planned development that's affecting their property or livelihood or health and the contact us for assistance I try to get as much information about the problem trying to ascertain whether or not the activity that's affecting them is legal meaning that is permitted I've never seen jet as adversarial I think jet has been constructively critical over the years jet has a refreshing approach to environmental issues and environmental sustainability and as a past regulator I think we look forward to the comments of jet on huge developments on GIS and things like that to help to guide us to ask the right questions people tend to believe that jet is only interested in in her ass in Devon things like that but I believe that jet tries to keep people on the straight and narrow and if we do things correctly in the first place then we would probably need not need to have just intervene before jet there was nobody to call no jet is at the top of the conversation when it comes to environment and as a huge achievement it is very very daunting to stand up to I will say government they stand up to strong public opinion that differs from yours jet is one of the few organizations out there that stand up and say they hold the government accountable and say no this is a standard that we expect you know we want you to adhere to this kind of a standard a jet is efficient and effective I think jet is the best organized NGO I've seen in Jamaica jet was always able to provide detailed financial statements which is very important for a donor agency a level of transparency in all they do and that's that's a great plus one of the things we don't like to see in media is that we are very stretched in terms of human and technical resources are concerned to really cover these stories so an organization like jet becomes a very very important resource tool if you will I find jet very well-informed very knowledgeable easily accessible and they make for good radio and television because of their style up in your face when I first started doing this my idea was that I was going to save the environment and within a few years I realized that that wasn't going to happen and so my emphasis became to build an institution wash yourself beaches and how many animals died from it with what I'm studying now what I'm interested in it's just really important to me that we work on environmental protection and sustain it Jamaica needs institutions like jet this is what having a good democracy means this is what good governance requires and so for the last ten years I'd say I've had a very strong focus on trying to build an institution trying to have young people working here who can carry on if I was not around to build an endowment fund to give us some kind of cushion against project funding going up and down which it knows we will work as a team motto you know what rank we had here in the organization everybody they help each other if you follow your protocols winning don't you jump on board to help somebody else was on a pressure that was a coach objects once you're here you're family I just have to work together hand in hand here's an organization that is an advocate for the environment especially in areas where it cannot speak for itself here's an organization that stimulates young minds to start thinking about the environment so it becomes a bottom up rather than a top-down response I think they're doing an awesome job in Jamaica that was I think one of the best things that we have done over the years we have been just doing basic our life skill and education you know teaching about anger self-esteem conflict resolution but it was Irene spin this time to actually partner with someone that teaches them about the environment yes well talk to them about I mean know how to properly dispose of their garbage but it wasn't as intense as what jet has done one of the main things that our live project is that they will give them a theoretical aspect and right after they give them the practical so that they can actually feel what they learn this partnership with jet has really catapulted our program to different level our attendance has increased as a result and we have seen our attendance that which has done for example increased by at least 50% you know the kids keep coming over and over because there's something new there's something exciting there's something hands-on that they can relate to and that is the high point for me that's something I see a home as I write programs as I speak the funders and so on from this initiative one word I would say about jets probably tireless jet never stop we're on that issue until the very end and there's always another issue every day there's always another problem and that is right on top of it so this is the Harborview sewage treatment plan it was completely overgrown there was sewage everywhere there was garbage sanitary napkins human waste and indescribable stench and right there the see it all flow down into the water and I was absolutely appalled that right on the doorstep of Houston right next to a community a church a school there was sewage raw sewage pooling on the land and flowing into the sea it was seeing this being hair that really impaired me into action it was after this that we decided to form the Jamaica Maryland trust so for 20 years we've been working on this sewage treatment plant working with the community doing workshops talking to them about their rights writing to the decision-makers trying to get this sewage plant fixed so having finally filed a lawsuit against the National Water Commission for this non functioning sewage plant the court ordered a two-phase solution and this is the interim phase which are basically sewage ponds and then there'll be a final solution that would take longer it's our 20-year anniversary and since in a very real way this is where it started for me it's very satisfying to see this plant being fixed finally we just didn't give up I would want that Jack would continue encouraging people and educating them and fighting for Jamaica's environment for this natural beauty that we have and encourage us to act in a sustainable fashion as Jamaicans towards our environment for my children I would want them to see a Jamaica we we have trees and we have green spaces and where are people that understand why is it that we do what we would be do you know walking us on a streets in Jamaica where it's not filled with garbage where gullies are not overflowing with bottles and clogged up to drive and not see people throwing things to the bus window or a car window I hope for Jamaica in the future is that more persons become environmentally conscious and focus mainly on preserving our natural environment they need to remember that we not only need to preserve it and beautify this place because of our visitors but it's necessary for our survival as Jamaicans and we need to put more emphasis on the natural habitats for most of our endemic creatures because most of them are becoming endangered and soon to be extinct so we need to realize that this is imperative it is urgent that we start focusing no more than ever on preserving our natural environment

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2 thoughts on “From small beginnings…Jamaica Environment Trust

  1. Congratulations on 20 amazing years, JET! The video is a beautiful celebration of all you have accomplished together!

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