Crying for our children and thinking about the future…

One of the item on the nightly news just now was the fatal road death of a 7 year old boy from a corporate area school in Kingston, Jamaica. Coincidentally, I also read the article in the Jamaica Gleaner 24/04/2016 entitled, ‘Secret Gardens’ all cried out-Monument to remember children killed across the island running out of space. The terrible feeling of sadness that engulfed me on both instances was so profound that I felt myself thinking what would I do if I lost my child. It is not an easy task being a parent, the kind that is involved and well-meaning. We are consumed with worry every day from the moment of their conception and gestation, birth and indeed throughout every spectrum of our children’s lives. We do everything humanly and legally possible to take care of them- to provide for them. Some parents have even selflessly participated in dubious life threatening activities to ensure that their children are fed, clothed and sheltered. It is therefore a most hurtful and hard to fathom / incomprehensible pain such parents feel when they lose their child/children in un-natural ways. (Natural ways are just as devastating but its perhaps a little more bearable…and for this I may even debate otherwise…but the point is made). My father, who himself died as a result of a ‘hit and run’ road fatality, always said he wanted long life so that he would be able to see his children ‘pass the worse.’ Then there is the old adage about, a parent should never have to bury a child. You love your child for life, if you are a vested parent.You love to death. To love and have sorrow for the same thing and at the same time is the hardest undertaking.

Photo credit:http://evenifministries.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/memorial-for-unborn-children.jpg

I remember the gut-wrenching pain I felt when I heard that my father had passed. That is incomparable. However I noted how I was a bumbling, snot nosed tearful mess when I had some scary pains in the early part of my pregnancy when I thought I was going to lose my child possibly by a miscarriage. Most poignant was also in June 2015 when my ever stoic child called me to inform me that a JUTC bus ran into the side of another JUTC in the Half Way Tree bus terminal – at the exact vicinity of the window where he was seated. He was asleep and woke to the shattered window and jolt produced by the impact….I was a crumbling mess after the confusing moments and the state of affairs was sorted out including sending prayers of thanksgiving. I bawled…just at the prospects …again….this time that I could have lost my teenager. I recount all these personal moments to indicate, while not over-simplifying, that losing a child is heart breaking and life shattering! It is not surprising that my heart weeps when I hear news of a child’s life being pre-maturely and senselessly taken. When you are a parent you can empathize with other parents. Their child did not get to have a future. We as adults have to protect them when we can and work as a collective to protect them overall. Look out for them on the streets, inquire of them when they look sad or forlorn….it [still] takes a village.

Reflecting on the future….Unfortunately, I was not able to leave the island for a thematic meeting on Habitat III in Toluca, Mexico. I blogged about that meeting in an earlier post…. Please read the article in Citiscope  https://shar.es/1e0rSA that offers an insight on the level of participation. As a point I made was mentioned in the article,this led me to consciously ponder on an ever-present thought- the FUTURE I WANT and the future I want for my child. Presently, some systems seem to be on a collision course… for example there is water scarcity, marine life overkill, ‘homelessness,’ erratic weather due to changing climate and the list goes on. In addition our children may not have a secure world to exist in as monopolistic and capitalistic ideologies continue to create situations  resulting in the displacement, destabilization and disenfranchised of peoples and states.To this end I remain resolute to participate in the development and environment sectors so that we will have a world with the same common pool of resources for them as we partook of when we were children….

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

 

 

 

Habitat III …Refining and Redefining of agendas and goals.

Hellloooo my friends. It is a momentous time! So much is evolving nationally and internationally. There is a series of undertakings  including national governments reorganizing, regional and meetings and global development goals being detailed into actionable plans. One such is the Habitat III Regional Meeting on Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) currently underway in Toluca, Mexico. I was schedule to attend  but was however detained here by a pressing work matter. Notwithstanding I have engaged in an online platform for urban dialogue. Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development to take place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October 2016. According to Dr, Joan Clos the Secretary General -UN Habitat, ‘the Conference is a unique opportunity for rethinking the Urban Agenda in which governments can respond by promoting a new model of urban development able to integrate all facets of sustainable development to promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity.’

Great opportunities for practical action and ‘realistic ‘ dialogue abound! However forged partnerships is a crucial and decisive factor for successful implementation.

Question 1: What are the most pressing challenges and opportunities in achieving sustainable urban development in Latin America and the Caribbean? What are some good practices?

The views I succinctly outline is an extension of a previous blog post I wrote about the Caribbean and Latin America being an odd couple. Https://hilaryfsmithblog.wordpress.com/?p=19&preview=true.

Subsequently my urban dialogue input read.

The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region is an odd couple, if ever there was one. This non-contiguous region (in particular the Caribbean small island developing states) consist of 33 countries. Languages differences across the region is a notable distinction. The official language of the citizens of most of the countries in the Caribbean is British English whilst Spanish is the primary language in the Latin American countries of the region. Within the education systems second languages are offrerd in the curriculum however for many English speaking Caribbean nationals proficiency in a second language is limited. However, it is significant that there is free movement across the countries in the region with the removal of visa restrictions which minimize other impediments. As urbanization is fuelled by migration the impediment and / or access across the region and within cities in individual countires is a critical factor. This is critical to the sustainable urban development in the LAC. Subsequently, I posit that in the LAC the most pressing opportunities in achieving sustainable urban development would be in the forging of partnerships, the involvement of the youth and the utilization of technology. Conversely, some of the most pressing challenges in achieving sustainable urban development would include gender equity, informality of human settlements, environmental vulnerability and continued efforts for poverty alleviation.

The Citiscope magazine utilized words and thoughts forthcoming from the overall urban dialogue to prepare and present a great extension to the threads in the Urban Dialogue entitled- ‘Habitat III host region takes stock of its urbanization process — warts and all.’

http://citiscope.org/habitatIII/news/2016/04/habitat-iii-host-region-takes-stock-its-urbanization-process-warts-and-all