(JIS) – Malahoo Forte: Attorney General, the Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, says careful consideration was given to selecting the special services offered to residents of Mount Salem during the fair held in the community on the weekend.
She noted that emphasis was placed on assisting persons to obtain proper identification cards, which is required for residents living within the boundaries of the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO).
“The services… have been carefully selected to begin the assistance to the residents in the area to ensure, first, that persons without identification cards are brought into the system,” she noted.
She was speaking to JIS News at the community fair held on September 9 and 10 in the St. James community, where the first ZOSO is in effect.
Mrs. Malahoo Forte, who is the Member of Parliament for West Central St. James, where Mount Salem is located, hailed plans by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to ensure that youth who have dropped out of the formal system are reintegrated as soon as possible.
She said parents will have to take greater responsibility in ensuring that their children stay in school, noting that dropouts are vulnerable to gang recruitment.
“We want to identify all students who have dropped out of school. Those who are still of school age, we are putting them back in the school system, (and) those who are no longer of school age are going into some skills training programme,” she pointed out.
Mrs. Mahaloo Forte expressed optimism that the ZOSOs will be successful.
“It is my hope that we will make major progress in what we are doing. The Government alone cannot do it, and I think that slowly but surely, persons are beginning to realise that not only is it going to be all of government, but all of the community. I am hopeful, very hopeful,” she said.
Scores of residents benefited from the two-day fair held at the Mount Salem Primary School.
They received free medical and dental services, with recreational activities for the children, such as a bounce-about and mechanical bull.
Among the entities providing services were the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), HEART/NTA, National Youth Service (NYS), Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), and the Ministry of National Security and its agencies.
The event formed part of the social-intervention programme for the Mount Salem community, which, on September 1, was declared the first ZOSO under the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act. The ZOSO will be in place for 60 days.