Rose Place youths feel forgotten by the gov’t
by Lyf Compton
Although living in the heart of Kingstown in an area earmarked for a US$145 million Port Modernization Project, many youths of Rose Place feel forgotten by the government.
From a huge, dirty, mosquito larvae infested gutter to the high unemployment rate among the youths in the area, hope seems non-existent among a wide cross-section of the young men “on the block”.
On Wednesday, SEARCHLIGHT spoke to several youths who were hanging out under a shed mourning the loss of their friend Devonnie “Coolie Man” Belgreaves who was killed on Sunday.
Belgreaves, killed by a masked gunman who “lick him down” with at least five gunshots, was just one of the many youths whose hope of a better life will never be realized. He left behind two baby girls, one three months old, the other one month old.
The mother of one of Belgreaves’s babies was among the boys on the block on Wednesday, holding her one-month-old in the crook of her right arm as she lit a marijuana cigarette with the other.
“You not supposed to do that, don’t smoke ‘round the youth like that,” one of the guys said to her, advice many persons would not expect to come from a young man on the block, dressed in cut off pants, sporting dreadlocks and himself holding a spliff.
“They have we like the worst down here, like we the rotten eggs,” one youngster told SEARCHLIGHT while adding that he had voted for the New Democratic Party (NDP) only because they promised “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
“All ah we here vote, well except for he and he, cause he too young and he feel nobody won’t do nothing for we still,” another of the teenagers said.
The boys, sitting next to the huge, dirty gutter used the drain as another example of why they think no one cares.
In 2017, SEARCHLIGHT spoke to residents of Rose Place, more popularly known as Bottom Town who were calling on the relevant authorities to look into cleaning the same gutter that the youths complained about on Wednesday.
While the gutter has been cleaned before, it runs through the area and creates a health hazard and is almost always blocked. The problem is that it is not able to routinely empty itself into the sea as it is below sea level and the mouth is often choked by beach sand.
Back in 2017, one concerned resident told SEARCHLIGHT that on a number of occasions, small children have fallen into the ditch and one incident saw a child having to be taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) for medical treatment.
“You won’t want to be here when that belch,” one youth offered, “the smell will knock yo out,” he offered, while revealing that the assassin who took out Devonnie came through the gutter, a metaphor for how “grimy” the drain is.
“We would clean it ah nah, but we don’t have the proper things, water boots and thing…if they can just give we like a $4,000 to share up and do it, it would be clean,” a youth who says he needs a job told SEARCHLIGHT.
Another youngster said he usually goes “bush”, meaning he plants marijuana, but he does not trust the talk about a medicinal marijuana industry as it is taking too long to materialize and many of his friends have weed stored, waiting for amnesty payments, but it is not coming.
“You know how much man have weed spoiling; turning white and curing down,” the bush man offered, “pure gimmicks, that ah lie.”
Other youths said they make a few dollars by going out to sea with the older fishermen in the area but they want something more than the few pennies that venture brings in.
An older man said he to also feels frustrated as he was living in Canada but was deported after someone “bad mind” him when he opened a business which was doing well. He said that nothing is available for the youths as work seems non-existent unless you know someone.
Another man asked for a dollar, while a young lady close by rushed to an elderly woman for a piece of the bread and chicken she was eating from a bowl.
The youths also seemed uncertain about the ongoing US$145 million Port Modernization Project. They think the jobs will not be given to them, as they are expected to be relocated by the government.
The new cargo and ferry port will include facilities for international, regional and intra-island travel throughout the Grenadines. The project also includes costs related to improving the road network and traffic flow in and out of western Kingstown.
As a necessary precursor to physical works, the Government will facilitate the relocation of the affected residents and fisherfolk of Rose Place who will be displaced by the new port. In all, $9.5 million will be spent in the relocation of residents and the further elaboration of the requisite designs and engineering studies.
Sitting under the shed, with photos of the NDP’s Daniel Cummings, the West Kingstown parliamentary representative, stapled on a VINLEC pole a few feet away, it is evident that many of the youths in the area feel unappreciated, marginalized and hopeless. The words of “Ratty” in the Jamaican movie “Third World Cop” come to mind: “can’t get no work because of me blood-cloth address.”
The words of dancehall artiste “Masicka” also ring true, “Yeah, we fall and we rise, fighting for all a we life, all ah we choices no right, cah we no perfect every flaws and we no Christ. You can call it sacrifice, man just wah see me mother nice, gwaan go ask the youths dem inna the ghetto if life is a (expletive) paradise.”
“They don’t care bout we, nobody duh study we,” one youngster offered, “we just here,” he said.