Project STAR to commence work in Sav-la-Mar
Starting next month, residents of Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, areto begin their purging through a series of programmes designed to bring about social transformation and renewal.
Saffrey Brown, project director for Project STAR, says Savanna-la-Mar was selected because of its historical nature in terms of the trajectory of crime and violence over the past three years.
“In January next year, Project STAR will begin work throughout the community as we commence a process of community engagement, inclusion and community life planning,” Brown told stakeholders of the parish during a function hosted by the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Project STAR, Social Transformation And Renewal, is a social and economic development initiative created by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) in partnership with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and driven by communities to bring about societal transformation, through targetted interventions in about 20 under-resourced residential areas of Jamaica.
Project STAR when implemented will last for five years in each community intervention. It will be funded by a mixed financing model consisting of profits from listing on the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange, corporate donations, diaspora crowdfunding and multilateral funding.
Brown said the first phase of the community intervention of project STAR has been completed which looked at mapping the community.
“We are happy to report that we’ve actually completed this process and are currently going through a period of review and real analysis of what we have found,” she said of the many decades-old scarred town of Savanna-la-Mar.
Community meetings, consultations and town hall meetings to engage residents on the desired goals of the project will be the main focus when the projects hit the ground in another three weeks’ time.
“This will start in early January, the goal is to have the community start communicating and sharing what the issues are, and potentially even start providing solutions to what are the challenges,” Brown informed while noting that this method forms part of the process of the engagement to get the community becoming owners of the programme.
As for the economic transformation strategy pillars embedded into Project STAR, Brown said, “we will focus on individual economic outcomes, which are employment and entrepreneurship and community-wide economic outcomes, really looking at financial inclusion and strategic investments.”
The parish capital has a very young population where 46 per cent are young people under the age of 24, but the unemployment data are mind-boggling.
“In Savanna-la-Mar young people under 24 make up 46 per cent of the population. Alarmingly over 21 per cent of the working age are unemployed, while 26 per cent of the working-age population is engaged in unskilled jobs,” Brown shared.
Amid those alarming statistics, the director of the PSOJ-led Project STAR is confident the new social intervention can reverse that.
“We know we can change this, our hope is that together we can all work together towards ensuring that our young people of the wider communities are prepared to be able to access all available opportunities,” Brown said.