Mentoring in the ghettos
07 April, 2012
by AusAID Caribbean
Lascelles Page (left) talking to young people about the merits of the YUTE program. Photo: Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica
Lascelles Page was half-way through a university degree in information technology when he had to drop out because he could no longer pay his tuition fees.
The 24 year-old ended up returning to the tough concrete jungle of Trench Town, one of the poorer suburbs in the
Jamaican capital Kingston. Trench Town is best-known as the community where the legendary Reggae artist Bob Marley
lived and which inspired some of his most famous songs. It’s also one of the more volatile places to live in Jamaica.
Crime and violence is a problem. “Sometimes if there is a feud in the community and I need something in one section, I can’t go there until there is some peace in the area,” said Lascelles.
The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica set up the Youth Upliftment Through Employment program, YUTE, as a way of steering young people away from crime and from the economic support many of them receive from criminals, towards jobs and a greater sense of purpose. YUTE is funded by AusAID, other donors and private sector organisations.
The program works by asking trades people and professionals to mentor youth living in ghettos and help them find work.
Lascelles was initially wary of the program because he found similar schemes in his neighbourhood had not been particularly useful. However, he decided to try it and a stint as a volunteer in data processing soon led to paid employment as an administrative assistant with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica itself.
Since then, many inner-city youths have been employed in jobs ranging from landscapers, factory workers, inventory
clerks, carpenters, painters, waiters to customer service representatives. Some are given help with basic numeracy and
literacy to better prepare themselves for work, be it as an employee or to start their own businesses.
Lascelles has since re-enrolled in university and is a firm advocate for YUTE. “Every time I see the letters Y-U-T-E I just feel passionate,” he said. “It has touched many lives. Most of the people that I know are not doing certain things again because of the program. It has prevented a lot of them from going into criminal activities. They have been identified, given mentors and are involved in a positive way.”
Last Reviewed: 30 March, 2012