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Tackling violence through faith and community outreach

In an effort to address increasing violence and crime in districts labeled as “hot spots” across the island, the Mount Zion Ministries kicked off their Impacting Our Communities Programme with a children’s rally at the Emmerton Community Centre.

Approximately 100 children from the Chapman Lane St Michael environs received books and gifts from charitable donors, namely Samaritans First and 24-hour FMH/Sandy Lane Charitable Trust Helpline.

Apostle Dr Lucille Baird, the facilitator of the Impacting Our Communities project, said the church sought to promote positive change in the vulnerable communities with an island-wide book drive. There will be volunteers on the ground going through the communities distributing the reading materials to children and adults.

“These are good morale-building books that we are going to be giving out to help to build a foundation. Books on fathering parenting and all kinds of life,” Baird said.

She said today’s function was the first phase of the programme which sought to “rehabilitate, restore and rebuild the society”.

On Thursday, April 11 and Friday, April 12, the Mount Zion Ministries held crusades in the district attracting up to 150 residents.

“We are not here to say that we will be the ones to change Barbados but I believe that this will bring some change. Already we are seeing positive results from just being here . . . No place is safe unless you are covered by God and his blood,” the prominent pastor said.

She also disclosed that the residents were worried about the “dangerous” and “unsafe” “image of the district.

“The guys are really concerned about the stigma [and] they don’t know what to do to stop the stigma. They believe a lot of the times it is other persons from other neighbourhoods who are coming into their neighbourhoods and causing it to have a bad name. They are feeling very victimized and they can’t seem to be able to help themselves,” she explained.

Also present at the proceedings was children’s advocate Faith Marshall-Harris representing the 24-hour FMH/Sandy Lane Charitable Trust Helpline. Marshall-Harris identified that the Impacting Our Communities programme fulfilled the calls for faith intervention and value education amongst the youth.

“Our first need for our children is raising them up, not only bringing up but raising them up with morale . . . is to get involved in faith-based and values education. We keep complaining that they are not in church and they are not in Sunday school but I don’t think they can get there unless we adults get them there,” she said.

“Regardless of what religion or what denomination you follow, there are certain basic golden rules that you can share with children and therefore there are very small steps introducing them at this level and then getting them as regular persons within the faith-based communities,” she added. (KK)

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