Disentangling the Complicated

Wherever you visit, children are the same. Given love and a protected environment, kids bloom wherever they are planted. Their natural curiosity and zeal for life is contageous.

Education opens the door to opportunity. In a land where the majority of children are poor, what we consider as insignificant can be the spark that becomes a burning fire.

For children who have never owned a photograph, having their picture made is always a thrill. “Take my picture” is not as offensive when you realize that small things are sometimes huge!

Whether the ministry is a parochial school or a school for children left behind to fend for themselves, these kids have an opportunity to conquer the future.

Hero Day provides an opportunity to celebrate your uniqueness and bask in the beauty of a national celebration.

copyright 2011 Jim LockmanClick!

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It’s complicated. Part 3

My trip to the grand island of Jamaica was to document the work being accomplished there by the Sisters of Mercy. For a number of years I have worked on projects for the Sisters, beginning with photography at Mercy Hospital in 1978.

A dedicated group of women, the Sisters of Mercy provide  ministry to the sick, poor, and uneducated of this world.

For over one hundred thirty years, the Sisters have provided ministry in Jamaica, beginning with the boys school at Alpha. With forty acres purchased by Sister Ripoll with her own money, the ministry has grown to include infant and primary schools, a high school, Trade Training Centers, and two residential institutions for homeless and delinquent boys.

 

Much of the ministry in Kingston, the capital, takes place in what I would call compounds, separated from the crime and desperation that is so prevalent in this complicated city.

copyright 2011 Jim Lockman/Click!

It’s complicated!

When I arrived for a photo shoot recently in Jamaica, I asked about the economic conditions on this beautiful Caribbean oasis. My client responded, “It’s complicated!”

Travelling to a foreign land is an opportunity many people never experience. It never loses its awe, whether visiting on assignment or for personal enjoyment. My curiosity is peaked as I leave the comfort of homeland and venture to the unknowns of a foreign location. Even the act of flying alone has the symbolic manifestation of leaving the known and traversing to the unknown. Beam me up, Scottie!

Jamaica is a beautiful land! The roads are terrible. They make Monroe Road seem smooth as silk. If they named the potholes as they do in New York, they would have to buy baby name books from all over the world. At one point, I actually thought my teeth were falling out.

I was told I would see poverty worst than I had ever experienced before. “See” is right because I was not allowed to get out of the car unless we were in a secured area. Crime in Jamaica is unimaginable. Except for some of the homes in the countryside, every business or house I saw, whether in the poorest areas or the dwellings  and shopping venues of the wealthy, was behind a fence or wall and was gated. These people have made “gated communities” a national heritage; gated communities of “one.”

I tried to get my head around the socio-economic plight of these paradisiacal islanders. There is no middle class. Jamaicans are either rich or they are extremely poor. Unemployment is high and has been as much as 25% during the last twenty years. Jobs are not being created and many who have employment cannot survive on what they take home. Their largest industry is from “remittances.”  Sending money home to Jamaica accounts for over 20% of GDP. No wonder crime is high. There is a sense of desperation wherever you go in Kingston, the capital city. Known for their exclusive resort experiences, Jamaica has a dark side most never experience during their visit.

Visiting Jamaica was a thrilling experience for me. Words aren’t adequate to express the dichotomy that exists wherever you go.

It’s complicated!

 

copyright 2011 Jim Lockman/Click!