A community activist’s plea for help to restore August Town
ALTHOUGH DOROTHY Blaine Price-Maitland was not born in August Town in Kingston, after relocating there in the late 1990s her affinity for improving the quality of life for others, especially younger generations, kicked in. When Price-Maitland,...
ALTHOUGH DOROTHY Blaine Price-Maitland was not born in August Town in Kingston, after relocating there in the late 1990s her affinity for improving the quality of life for others, especially younger generations, kicked in.
When Price-Maitland, affectionately referred to as ‘Momma D’, first moved into the neighbourhood, there were little to no uplifting and positive programmes under way.
As a result, she had set out on a mission of transformation – recognising the need for community enrichment initiatives in the area.
Momma D was born in the east Kingston community of Rockfort where throughout her upbringing she would witness her mother engaged in various entrepreneurial ventures, such as making natural fruit juices, pastries and cakes.
“Out of the 15 of us that my mother had, it is only four of us hold the mantle. I am the one who hold it fully,” she said in an interview with The Gleaner on Tuesday.
She discussed how she would eventually follow in her mother’s footsteps and get involved in baking traditional Jamaican treats, including peanut cakes, (coconut) grater cakes, gizzadas, and plantain tarts, along with making natural fruit juices and sorrel beer for sale.
She said that she started participating in community service at the age of 14 in her hometown and that after relocating to August Town she would use her earnings and reinvest into the community, and on occasion take out loans from the bank to ensure that the community was looked after.
Price-Maitland, who also serves as minister at the Sunrise St Michael Healing Temple, collaborated with a group of about 30 local farmers to establish the African Gardens Farming Project that is linked to an agro-processing facility that makes natural juices and pastries for sale in the community.
She also commended the youngsters involved in the farming project who had pig pens and banana and plantain crops.
Price-Maitland told The Gleaner that the community needed the revitalisation of the parenting group that mentored young mothers and fathers to not only care for their children, but served as a means of getting them off the streets and steering the young men away from violence.
“Those days were good days ... we would like [it] to come back,” she said.
Price-Maitland stated that experiencing such an initiative, which had been provided in partnership with the Ministry of Justice and the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), was “like heaven”, as it brought together residents of August Town from different neighbourhoods, including Bedward Gardens, African Gardens, Hermitage, and Goldsmith Villa.
She lamented that currently, the parents lacked sufficient knowledge of how to care for their offspring and expressed worry for them and their environment.
“For the whole day or the whole night, them have gambling and so forth and the likkle baby dem is there with them,” she explained, adding that community leaders would like assistance in guiding the youth while encouraging them to take pride in themselves and conduct themselves properly, especially for their children.
She is also appealing to motivational speakers who are not attached to the community to assist in this regard and to offer counselling sessions.
“You know some children grow and them never get a motherly love or a fatherly love, those are the people I’m talking [about],” she said.
Momma D received a Phenomenal Woman plaque from the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) in recognition of her efforts in the community’s agricultural development and for her exceptional contribution to the agricultural industry.
She came in second place in the JAS branch display for the Kingston and St Andrew Agrofest in 2017 and received a trophy for the most outstanding contribution to the community of August Town.
Price-Maitland, who is also a justice of the peace (JP) for St Andrew and is the acting president of the African Gardens Citizens’ Association, has motivated a number of young people to get on board in the business of farming.
“I am a self-reliant person, I don’t love when people sit and sit on the corner and say ‘nothing nah gwaan fi me, me a beg you a ting’, cause I have to work hard to meet my demands,” the mother of two adult children said.