Wah a gwaan family? is a oft utilized greeting in the Jamaican local parlance. Of course this is sometimes accompanied by an intricate finger twining, chest and shoulder joining motion and fist bumping, especially among the males. This was the first thought that came to mind, followed by the most serious ones articulated below, on May 15, 2016 which marked the observation of the International Day of Families.
Anyway I am late with this post but I did not want to miss the opportunity to pay respect to this noble institution whilst also lauding my own family- the foundation and launchpad for the person I have become.
The observation of the day this year is aligned with SDG 3 which is to Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. The theme of ‘families, healthy lives and sustainable future‘ is a idiomatic synergy. My biological family’s story is similar to many in Jamaica. Both my parents were migrants to the city of Kingston from rural St.Andrew and Manchester respectively. Each came to the capital in pursuit of a better life and encountered each other while residing in a tenement yard in Kingston 11. My dad left school at the primary level and started life early. Mom went through All-Age to secretarial school. They both worked to make ends meet when their union was made. Following younger sister’s birth and the purchase of their own home Dad wanted Mom to stay at home. Money was short and they did several small businesses from home to supplement Dad’s income…such was my family.
Two important memories have influenced my approach to my own life…1) I was sickly as a child up through my early childhood years and my Mom attributed this to the sometimes insanitary conditions in the yard where we lived. Thus one of the driving forces behind their quest for better living arrangements led to their home-ownership. The take-away -when you desire the best for your children as well meaning parents you do what needs to be done. 2) Both my parents continuously stressed the importance of a ‘proper’ education. They ensured that us kids got that….I was the first in the family to have attained a graduate level education.
Both examples above encompasses the theme as my parents ensured our family could live healthy lives (with better living arrangements) and (with education) a sustainable future.
Though my father is no longer with us in the human form, as it was in his continued effort to provide and assist family that he lost his life on Labour Day, his values are well instilled in us.
As a community development practitioner I see firsthand the dissolution of the family structure and resultant dysfunction in the society brought to bear by the weakening of the family as an institution. Growing up we learnt civics and the different forms of family structures were taught as the smallest unit of a society.It is very important therefore that we use every opportunity to re-focus and place emphasis on its significance to civil order and social cohesion.