by Dr Neals J Chitan
What better day to focus on bringing real mental emancipation to your country than Emancipation Day? That was the sacrifice made by noble St Lucians that turned the 1 August holiday into a day of meaningful time investment as they searched for social transformation through crime reduction in the HELEN OF THE WEST.
With their homicide count at 36 just past the halfway mark of the year, social partners and stakeholders were challenged to rise to the occasion and put their shoulders to the crime-fighting wheel to save their nation from the scourge of this social epidemic. The Honorable Joachim Henry, Minister of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment had previously challenged the 400-plus churches of St Lucia to stand up, get off the pews and bring to the table a plan to help avert the pending social doom facing their nation. And so, in their quest to respond with relevant and sustainable strategies, the St Lucia Mission of Seventh-day Adventists began their search for evidence and success-based answers to the Minister’s challenge.
It was then our satellite regional office in St George’s Grenada was contacted to help them mount a sustainable response to the rising crime and violence. However, leading the way was Keith Smith, director of Back On Track Inc, a powerful rehabilitative and transitional agency for incarcerated men, inviting me as an International Social Skill and Crime Reduction Consultant to team up with him for an event on 30 July 2022. Simultaneously, the Director of Family Life for the Seventh-day Adventist Church Dr Caius Alfred, in his search for an impactful social change agent, also made the connection with our office and a plan for a week of intense consultation was forged for St Lucia, 27 July – 3 August 2022.
I arrived on British Airways on 3 July and was hurried into a press conference at the VIP lounge of the Hewanorra International Airport, thus setting the stage for what would turn out to be one month’s worth of in-depth crime reduction consultations achieved in just 7 days. Boy, did they ever have an itinerary ready for me and I was as ready to engage. Highlights of the week included:
- Consultation with Prime Minister Philip J Pierre and Minister Joachim Henry along with Community Social Activist and renowned Pathologist Dr Stephen King.
- Community walk-throughs in the crime hotspots of Vieux Fort
- Consultation with social partners and government stakeholders in Vieux Fort
- Meeting with the pastoral staff of the SDA Church
- Professional Development Session for Prison Officers Bordelais Correctional Facility
- Motivational/Rehabilitative Session for inmates of Bordelais Correctional Facility
- Meeting with the Faux-A-Chaux community
- Anti-violence March through the streets of Vieux Fort
- Daily TV and Radio programmes and interviews
However, it was 1 August, Emancipation Day, that I saw and heard the commitment and desire of NGOs, Government Ministries, Social Change Agencies, Teachers/Educators, Prison Administrators, Social Workers, the public and the clergy to sacrifice their holiday for nation building and crime reduction. Chaired by the astute Cabinet Secretary Benjamin Emmanuel, it was an evening of impact, exhilaration and answers at the conference room of the Bay Gardens Resort.
Being the main presenter, my task was to showcase my copyrighted EDER© Four-Dimensional Crime Reduction Framework as a sustainable antidote to reduce crime and violence at a national level. As I engaged, I saw the nods and exclamations of “this is it” as participants truly recognized the potency and power of this approach, one which was recently introduced to St Kitts-Nevis as their 2017 National Crime Reduction Strategy which played a major role in significantly coordinating programmes to reduce the incidences of homicides in the Federation.
Through a barrage of media coverage of every engagement, we were able to capture the hearts of the nation and plant the seeds of our internationally renowned crime reduction campaign “Project STOP ‘n’ THINK” Community Empowerment Programme, and communities are ready for its launching on their streets.
And so, let me say “HATS OFF” to the Mission of Seventh-day Adventists and its President Roger Stephen for the courage to get off the rostrum, roll up their sleeves and team up with social partners, thus investing in nation-building through crime reduction, something your Master demonstrated while on earth in human form.
Trust me St Lucia….I will be back sooner than you think!!
Dr Neals Chitan is an International Social Skill Consultant and Crime Reduction Specialist who holds a PhD in Social and Behavioural Sciences and currently works in Grenada. He is the President/Founder of Motiv-8 For Change International a Toronto-based Social Skill Agency and can be reached from North America at 647-692-6330 and locally 473-416-8377 or at [email protected]