Monday, 15 January 2018

Skylarking Principalship And Ineffective School Boards

"You can have great teachers, but if you don't have a good principal, you won’t have a good school"- Eli Broad
Are you satisfied with the level of leadership at your child’s school? This is the perennial question often asked by parents and other stakeholders in the education system.  There is usually a sense of arrogance associated with a significant number of our principals at all stages of the public education system.  It can be argued that this undesirable trait among some principals is not unique to our shores and is perhaps widespread in leadership in general. Our culture of arrogance in leadership is often rooted in a lack of an accountability framework which has also dogged our political system over the decades.  Disturbingly, many principals have found enablers in the same public education system which ought to hold both principals and teachers accountable. Regrettably, the playing field is not level in the public education system and as a result skylarking principals are allowed the luxury of remaining in their jobs despite of their weak and ineffective leadership, and to add insult to injury such principals are sometimes given extension of their tenure. It bares thought what is the purpose of the National Education Inspectorate (NEI)? The NEI was established as a result of the 2004 National Task Force Report on Educational Reform to ensure quality assurance as well as to effect changes complementary to the transformation of the public education system. Among the roles and responsibilities of the National Education Inspectorate (NEI) are to report on the quality of leadership and management of the learning environment in the school or learning institution, the quality of teaching, the quality of student response, the extent to which students have access to the curriculum and the quality of the provisions to support safety, health and well-being. I am sure you will agree that on least paper the mandate of the (NEI) sounds rather holistic and impressive; however, we know that theory and reality can be worlds apart. In some instances in spite of damning NEI reports surrounding the leadership of some school, nothing much is done to bring about change and progress. We have fostered an education system in which principals are allowed to transform and operate themselves as demigods in a comfort zone they have established for themselves.  Ironically, many principals themselves serve as a hindrance to the quality of teaching that transpires at their school.  Too many principals have lost their way and have made their schools chambers of mental torture instead of a place for teaching and learning. It is sad, that many competent teachers have been passed over for promotion due to the spiteful nature of weak principals. The respect that principals once held and demanded in both the education system and the wider society have been eroded over the years due to the divisive leadership which has come to characterize some of them. It is so distressing when the student population loses respect for a principal.  Too many principals have become vindictive and controlling and in the process ruin their schools to the extent to which such institutions have become holding areas due to a lack of transformational leadership. Sadly, gone are the days when a principal was a person of impeccable character and integrity. Why does the education system continues to extend a principal’s tenure after he/she has reached the retirement age especially when it is clear that the individual has not contributed much to the overall development of the school. I am still waiting for a plausible answer to my question. It would appear that some principals have more influence and connections that they have become untouchables over the years. One is left to conclude that the interference of politics in the appointment of principals have done more to tarnish the education system than perhaps any other factor since political independence in 1962.  In many instances the best candidate for the position of principalship is not selected due to the long reach of politics. Invariably, our students, as well as, their communities and the country suffer in the short and medium term. We need to rid the public education system of such principals. However, it’s easier said than done especially since the layers of accountability are often comprised.   
Ineffective School Boards
The Education Regulations of 1980 which outlines the framework under which all schools should operate makes it clear regarding the oversight of the Board of Management. However, is some instances manipulation and corrupt practices can and does undermine the intent of the Education Act regarding the appointment and operation of School Boards.  In some instances there is no line of separation between the office of the pincipalship and that of the School Board. As a result many schools suffer, many teachers do not receive a fair hearing, and inevitably the students pay a high price for the ineffectiveness of School Boards. Unfortunately, there are many school board members who have no expertise in the area of management and or supervision and are clueless regarding why they are on the Board of Governors or what their roles and duties are as members.  This is not only unacceptable it’s pathetic!
Transformation and Modernization   
Jamaica’s public education system has been undergoing a process of transformation and modernization over the years. In fact, the process of change is going at a fast pace and many supporting agencies of the Education Ministry have been established, such as, the Jamaica Teaching Council,  the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL) and the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC)   However, while this move is commendable it is obvious that more can and ought to be done in order to increase students’ performance and ensure equity, accountability and transparency. There needs to be a resolve in eradicating toxic principalship at all levels of the education system.
We need to change how School Boards members are appointed. We need a broad-based participatory approach from all stakeholders on the subject of such appointments. We need to work towards creating and maintaining a culture of transparency and in so doing we need to have term limits regarding those who serve on School Boards. Additionally, we need to have sanctions in place for those School Board members who prostitute their position. I strongly believe that the position of School Board chair person should be rotated every two years. We need to ensure that all gaps are legally closed so as to minimize any likely corrupt practices and collusion which might occur between the leadership of schools and School Boards. In order to strengthen the framework for transparency and accountability we must audit all schools receiving government funding. Furthermore, all School Boards should also be audited at least annually. The time to speak about fostering and facilitating a culture of accountability is now, we must act now. No one will argue against the fact that the hardworking taxpayers of Jamaica deserve better. Our students deserve better. We also need to revisit how and why the extension of tenure of principals should occur. This process currently seems to be too secretive and subjective resulting in many weak and ineffective principals being given additional time. Frankly speaking if you were a weak, vindictive and poor leader during the time of being a principal, what will be gained by extending the time of such a principal?
Over the years, many of our teachers, students and other workers have been marginalized, unfairly penalized, unfairly separated from their jobs, hurt, had their reputation tarnished by wicked principals and ineffective School Boards.
Yes, there are excellent principals and we salute them. We are forever indebted to our outstanding educators and nation builders who have given service beyond self to Jamaica, land we love. 
I leave with you the words of Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord”.            
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#education #schools #principals #leadership #schoolboards #teachers #transparency #integrity #character #accountability #justice #promotion #principalship #curriculum #Jamaica

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Disaster Management and Tsunamis

An earthquake unlike most other natural disasters gives no warning. As a result the potential for death; destruction and displacement are so much higher even with the best disaster management systems in place. The Caribbean based on its geographical position is very much prone to seismic conditions, and regrettably the region has had its fair share of same. Each January, Jamaica commemorates Earthquake Awareness Month; in fact the week of January 7-13 is designated as Earthquake Awareness Week. The theme this year is “Preparing for the quake helps reduce damage after a shake”. On Tuesday, January 9, 2018 a powerful 7.6 earthquake occurred off the Honduran coast. The U.S. Tsunami Warning System issued tsunami warning treats to the coast of Cuba, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Panama, Costa Rica and Jamaica and tsunami advisories for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Understandably, there was some amount of panic and concern among the population the following morning since many persons were asleep while all this seismic activity was going on.  It was a mere eight years ago that Haiti was devastated by a powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake which killed an estimated 200,000 individuals. In 1907, an earthquake rocked Jamaica resulting in the deaths of 1000 inhabitants. Thankfully since then Jamaica has been spared any significant earthquake, however, we should not take things for granted and should be now realize that disaster management and preparation is a coordinated and  ongoing process.. The word tsunami for many became more widely used and appreciated after the catastrophic 8.6 magnitude Indian Ocean earthquake in 2004 which occurred off the coast of Indonesia in which over 280, 000 people in fourteen (14) countries were killed.  A tsunami is a very large, high wave in the ocean which is usually caused by an earthquake under the sea and to some extent there is still much misconception about the occurrence of this.  
Responsibility of the State
All activities surrounding earthquake awareness month and week are synchronized by The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). However, the tsunami alerts which were triggered by the earthquake of January 9 are a clear indication that Jamaica is not where she should be in the event that a powerful earthquake was to strike the island.  It is noteworthy that the earthquake struck in the middle of the Caribbean Sea at a depth of 10 kilometres. The epi-center of the earthquake was 202 miles north-northeast Barra Patuca, Honduras and about 190 miles southwest of West Bay in the Cayman Islands.  At the time of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami alerts many Jamaicans were already in their beds and were unaware of what was taking place. Those of us who were awake at that time of night must thank the many social media platforms; especially Twitter for keeping us abreast of what was taking place. It is evident that as a country we urgently need a National Disaster Alert System to keep the citizenry informed and updated on any pending natural disasters. It is also clear that information must be readily dispatched and dissemination in a speedy manner in order for citizen to move to higher ground if they must. While the pilot tsunami multipurpose hazard siren installed in the Old Harbour Bay community is commendable, this is not enough. Jamaica is surrounding by water and has a plethora of coastal towns all of which are in need of such a system. The State must become more proactive in ensuring that common sense building practices are observed. We should discourage the explosion of unplanned settlements which have sprung up all across the country and can be argued encouraged for political purposes. While we are grateful that no injury was recorded from the earthquake and that the tsunami alerts were cancelled within 30 minutes of their activation we ought to be mindful that this should be viewed as a dress rehearsal to remind us that we should not become complacent and drop the ball regarding disaster management and preparation.  In preparing for an earthquake we need to engage the citizenry more in public education and town hall meetings, as well as utilizing social media in a more effective manner. It was only a tsunami scare this time, who knows what will happen the next time, we might not be so lucky.   
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#tsunami #socialmedia #earthquake #disastermanagement #Caribbean #ODPEM

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Who Are The New Pillars of Our Communities

Do you remember Jamaica of old? No, I am not referring to that period in our history of cooking on coal fire outside, or using the pit latrine because there was no inside bathroom. I speak of old Jamaica in terms of the positive values and attitudes of our foreparents which have made us who we are as a strong and proud people. Perhaps you are mature enough to recall; on the other hand maybe you don’t recollect a Jamaica of yesteryear due to your youthfulness. The human tendency is for us to reminisce at a bygone period when situations are not going in the direction in which we hope. Jamaica ended 2017 with more than 1600 murders. The population of Jamaica is approximately 2.7 million; the country’s murder rate makes us rank among the highest homicide rates in the world. A study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimates the direct cost of crime and violence in Latin America and the Caribbean at $261 billion or 3.55 per cent of Gross Development Product (GDP). Over the years there have been various estimates of the cost of crime to Jamaica, which range from 3.7 per cent of GDP taking only direct costs into account to 7.1 per cent of GDP once indirect costs are included. Those of us, who were born in the pre- Independence era, undoubtedly will recall with fondness and glee a Jamaica of peace, order and discipline. Yes times were economically challenging but this deficient regarding the economics were made up for in strong family and community engagement.  Jamaica then had a strong sense of community, and each child could be reprimanded by the elders of the community. The Jamaica of old had a set of community leaders which I referred to as the ‘pillars’ or guardians.
Pillars of Community Development
Among the ‘pillars’ of the community was the school teacher, the policeman, the postmistress, the pastor, all of whom were revered and well-respected.  These individuals were role models and although they were not rich by any definition they had something which money could not buy. Yes, character! It begs the question, what has happened to our ‘pillars’ of our communities? What has happened to Jamaica? It can be argued that there are still ‘pillars’ of communities; disturbingly, we now have the drug don, the political activist, the deportee and those who are actively engaged in criminal activities as the new wave of guardians of the community. We have replaced respect with fear of.  We now live in a state of panic, characterized by many law-abiding citizens turning a blind eye to wrong doings out of a genuine fear of being killed or having their family member/s be killed should they report. In addition, we have a police force which many Jamaicans view as corrupt; this has further fuel the crime wave and allowed the “informer fi dead” culture to grow and flourish.  Regrettably, many of our older communities are dying or have died. This death in and among communities did not occur suddenly, but instead has been facilitated by the State's inability to police, protect, reassure, enforce laws and regulations regarding governance. The State silence and indecisiveness on matters such as, zoning of residential areas, as well as entertainment zones have allowed “a money for all” sub-culture to emerge. This “money for all” sub-culture has taken away from the average Jamaican the choice to choose given their lack of disposable incomes and forced many to remain in dying communities. There are many examples of same; one only has to look at lower Maxfield Avenue, as well as the garrison communities and downtown Kingston.  I am reminded that Hagley Park Road was once a prime residential area, now due to commercialization the area has turned into an auto parts hub. The state of lawlessness is at the root at the New Year’s Day held #sandz party which blocked vehicular access to and from the Norman Manley International Airport resulting in scores of passengers missing their flights and creating a traffic nightmare for hours  along the #PalisadoesRoad.
The dons spread across many communities have benefitted tremendously and continue to do due to extortion money and now have more control over people’s lives in many inner-city areas.  The rich and well connected who live above Half Way Tree in suburban areas and gated communities do not have to encounter such social ills and stresses. Sadly, this vacuum of leadership in this regard has been evident across the political divide. In too many instances the State has stood by and has allowed the total destruction of communities. The housing crisis has been further acerbated by business people of ill-gotten wealth buying houses in older communities and using this medium as a means of money laundering. In many cases the criminals are known, however, corruption is rife and people can be paid off to look in the opposite direction.
The Way Forward
The crime monster for most if not all Jamaicans has become the number one priority. There is a sense of hopelessness as no one knows who next will fall victim to crime and violence.  One does not have to be ‘mixed up’ to fall prey to the gunman’s bullet. We need to return to an era of civility and law and order. We need to replace the pillars of our communities with people of integrity and character. We need to redouble and galvanize our collective efforts to fight crime, lawlessness and indiscipline. We need a zero tolerance against crudeness and vulgarity. We need a government- citizenry partnership involving all segments of the society to fight crime. As a society we need to recapture the bond of social cohesiveness which served us well in the past. Our social relations skills need to be sharpened as we relate to each in our families and in the wider community. We need to become our brother’s keeper once again. We need to rescue Jamaica.
In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, “this world of ours, ….must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect”.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#sustainabledevelopment #Jamaica #community #culture #entertainment #governance #law #crime #education #population #youth #values #attitudes #socialization #GDP

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Celebrating Kwanzaa: Reconnecting With Our Culture

“A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together”!-Author Unknown
The survival of any civilization is strongly connected to the adherence of traditions and mores, as well as how well that society adjusts to changes. The Caribbean, particularly Jamaica undoubtedly has a strong Judeo- Christian culture which has influenced and shaped how we chose to celebrate important culturally milestones. However, in spite of this, there is a growing trend among people of African descent to embrace our historically references as it relates to Africa; one such linkage to the Motherland is that of Kwanzaa.
The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means ‘first fruits’ in Swahili. Kwanzaa is a week long holiday honoring African culture and traditions.  Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor  and chair of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach introduced the festival in 1966 to the United States of America as a ritual to welcome the first harvest to the home. Since then the celebrations have gained acceptance and popularity among many African American communities and culturally space. Kwanzaa is a non-religious celebration which serves to celebrate cultural reaffirmation among people of African descent.  Kwanzaa falls between December 26 and January 1 each year. While many of us continue to seek the ‘truth; the celebration of “Africanness” is most welcomed given the tendency for people of colour to readily embrace foreign cultures.  The celebration of Kwanzaa is a family oriented festival in which candles are lit and libations are poured. A libation is the name given to a ritual pouring to a god. A wooden unity cup is often used to pour the libations. 
A Kwanzaa ceremony often includes performances of music and drumming, and draws inspiration from Pan-Africanism symbolized in the colours of red, green and black.
Red is the colour of Shango, the Yoruba god of fire, thunder and lightning. Green represents the earth which sustains life and black depicts the people representing hope and creativity and faith. It is customarily at a Kwanzaa festivity for women to be adorned in brightly coloured traditional clothing.  As a matter of course some cultural organization hold special exhibitions of African influenced art or performances during the celebrations of Kwanzaa.  
Historically, the observers of Kwanzaa were strict to their beliefs and did not mix any elements of other festivals into their celebrations. However, in recent years, it has become increasingly common for celebrants of Kwanzaa to infuse Christmas or New Year celebrations.  Interestingly, the main symbols of Kwanzaa are the ‘Mkeka’, or place mat is made from straw or cloth and is symbolic in laying the foundation for self-actualization on which to put the objects needed for the celebrations, the unity cup is used to pour libations to the ancestor, a candle holder reminds believers in the ancestral beginnings in one of the 55 African countries. The seven candles serves as a reminder of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, the corn signifies children and the hope associated with in the younger generation. Last but by no means least gifts represent commitments of the parents of the children.  It is routine to have a celebration of culinary delights on December 31.
Principles of Kwanzaa
The seven principles of Kwanzaa are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, co-operative economics, purpose, creativity ad earth.  The principles called the Nguzo Saba are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African- Americans.
It is noteworthy that the Kwanzaa flag consists of three colours.  Additionally, there are five common sets of values associated with Kwanzaa. These are ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment and celebration.  The candle- lighting ceremony each evening provides the opportunity to gather and discuss the meaning of the festivity.  On the first night the black candle in the center is lit and the principle of unity is discussed.
While Kwanzaa is not overwhelmingly observed in Jamaica at this time it can be argued that as more and more Jamaicans seek to reconnect to their African culture and traditions through productive work in order to better themselves, their families and the wider community it is likely that we will witness the growth of Kwanzaa throughout the region.  
In the powerful words of Herman Melville, “we cannot live only for ourselves. A thousands fibers connects us with our fellow men”
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#Kwanzaa #Christmas #culture #religion #Africa #Jamaica #Caribbean #AfricanaStudies #BlackHistory

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Sex Toys and Human Sexuality

The history surrounding the genesis of sex toys is rather vague and quite intriguing.  Sex toys and sex are still very much tabooed subjects in most parts of the world and this oftentimes clouds a honest and open discourse regarding such issues.  In fact there was an era not so long ago when the use of sex toys was seen as repulsive and abnormal requiring medical intervention for those who seek the pleasure of these gadgets.  However, human sexuality over the years has evolved and continues to do so at a rapid pace. The definition of human sexuality differs according to the context in which the term is used, however, in simple terms human sexuality is the way by which we express our maleness and femaleness; in other words how we experience the erotic and express ourselves as sexual beings. It is estimated that the sex toy industry is a multi-billion one in which many of the pleasure toys are designed after popular female porn stars and by extension cater to the whims and fancy of men more so than women.  Undoubtedly, sex and sex toys are still unmentionable subjects in some circles. Susan Colvin, founder and CEO OF CalExotics in a Forbes magazine interview said that the sex toy market is a  $15 billion industry with projections to surpass $50 billion by 2020 in which customers seeks sex paraphernalia to arouse, stimulate and enhance sexual pleasure of both sexes. The phenomenal success of the recently released movie, 50 Shades of Grey, as well as, other movies of the same erotic and sensual genre have fuelled the adult toy and entertainment industries to the point where the guilt and shame once associated with sex toys and their usage hardly exits. It is widely reported that the Kegel Balls ran out of stock once the book 50 Shades of Grey was published. One can assume that Amazon is and remains the largest purveyor of adult toys, offering a wide range of items. Online ordering and discreet shipping saves the prospective purchaser the embarrassment of exposing one’s secret sexual desires to strangers. Claudy, 54, certainly understands and appreciates the change in the ordering of adult toys. He mentioned”in dem days Mail Pac was the means to bring in stuff to Jamaica without much issue”. He added that these packages were always opened and explored with parts and things missing before they were delivered.  His sex toy of choice was the Fleshlight. He confided that he was first introduced to this sex toy by a friend and that the curiosity got a hold of him to experience this. He ended our brief chat with the simple but popular statement, “to each his own”.
It is amazing how our views on sexuality have changed overtime. A few years ago women wore ankle-length dresses, sexual intercourse was for procreation not pleasure and masturbation was shunned, however, today, these practices as well as many others are sexually acceptable and practiced.  
Sex Toys of Choice
In doing this blog, a number of colleagues shared their experiences about using sex toys. Orvin, 40, revealed that his sex toy of choice was the nipple clamp. “There is only one part of my body that get sexually aroused my nipple”. He added that he learned about the nipple clamp via magazines and asked a friend who was travelling at the time to buy him one.  In describing the clamp he said, the ends connecting to the nipples were made of plastic with grits, he added that there was also a chain which connected both clamps. He stated that the nipple clamp operated similarly to a clothes pin.  Orvin declared that he used the nipple clamps for about 2 years until the plastic section of the toy became crystallized. When asked if he knew of any local adult sex toy store, he stated that he knows of at least one sex toy store in a plaza along Old Harbour Road in St. Catherine. Trevin age 61 revealed that he first started using sex toys or gadgets as he prefers to call them in his 30’s. According to him, he first became aware of these devices from seeing them in shops and in porn movies. “I have used a few cock rings”. He added that ‘rings’ give a very rigid ‘hard on’. He disclosed that before buying the cock rings he used rubber bands.  Trevin added that “The fleshlight gives you awesome stimulation. You can combine both and be in ecstasy heaven”. He also shared that he has also used the prostate stimulator. “Oh yes, to the stimulator. The biology makes sense”. Trevin, who is married, when on to give a quick lesson in Biology “when the peri anal and the perineal muscles contract around the gadget that’s pressed against the prostate, Wow!” He commented further, “These are the muscles as well as the penile contraction that are responsible for the expulsion of semen”.  He ended by saying he would recommend these pleasure toys.
The use of sex toys is by no means the domain of men. Women are no longer shy to admit to the use of sex toys. Over the years the dildo has been a popular sex toys for a significant number of women, both married and single as they seek additional sexual pleasure or just pleasure in general. A female colleague while stating she understands why some women use sex toys said she prefers intimacy and human contact because sex toys are impersonal. She admits however that there is some form of communication using sex toys. She opines that women who turn to sex toys do so for many reasons, such as, being hurt by men in the past. Secondly, women seeking optimum pleasure which some men are unable to provide, she reiterates that women know their bodies and as a result they can use the sex toys to receive optimum please.  
It is interesting to note that the male ego is usually hurt if he is aware that his female partner is using sex toys to get pleasure. Most males will feel a sense of being inadequate to know this, as a result a significant number of women do not readily disclose this information to their male partner. One respondent David, age 55 revealed that he has been using sex toys for over 10 years. According to him, he uses these gadgets every two weeks. Interestingly, says his wife is aware that he uses the pleasure toys. David, who has a graduate degree, works in the Health Care sector. His sex toys of choice are the flesh light and the prostate stimulator. In response to the question, what do you think about sex toys he said, “They are better than having sex another individual”. 
Another respondent who I will refer to as Samuel, age 56, stated he has been using sex toys for over 5 years since a friend introduced it to him.  Intriguingly, Samuel is also married; however, his wife is unaware that he seeks pleasure from these mechanical devices.  When asked what his opinion about sex toys is, he said, “beneficial to keeping me away from sexual exploits”.  It is clear that for many men turning to sex toys for pleasure keeps them from entering extra-marital relationships. 
It is obvious that more and more Jamaicans are being exposed to and using sex toys. However, it bares thought whether the importation of these devices are legal? In a Jamaica Observer article dated August 29, 2012, the Customs Department at the time said, it would not interfere with the importation of sex toys into Jamaica until the Attorney General makes a ruling on their legality.  It is interesting to note that section 40 (XIII) of the Customs Act speaks to importation of indecent and obscene articles. It is interesting that a Google search of adult sex toys produced a number of business establishment where Jamaicans can go to purchase these items. Conversely, there is ongoing debate surrounding the legality surrounding the importation of sex toys. On the other hand, there are those who advocate that sex toys are health aids and as such should not be viewed as pornographic and or repugnant in an age of modernity.      
It is evident that the pleasure industry will continue to see extraordinary growth in years to come. Gone are the days when people were shy in ordering sex toys. There is now boldness and a desire to embrace one’s sexuality regardless of the consequences especially in an era of social media.  We can certainly expect to see the conversation of human sexuality widen and expand to include related forms such as the sexual health of both sexes.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#sexuality #sextoys #gender #adult #society #pleasure #eroticism #health #cockrings #kegelballs #prostatestimulator  #fleshlight #dildo
Sex toys word cloud concept

Friday, 1 December 2017

Jaye's Journey

"AIDS today is not a death sentence. It can be treated as a chronic illness, or a chronic disease"- Yusuf Hamied
I first met Jaye in 2002. She was always elegantly attired and went about her tasks in a professional manner. Jaye is approximately 5 feet 5 inches and was born in the parish of Clarendon, the last of five children. She mentioned that her childhood was difficult despite growing up in a nuclear family. “We were poor, but surprisingly, we did not realize it then”. “My mother made sure we had something to eat”.
Jaye, has been living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) since she was diagnosed in 1998 at age 29. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) at the end of 2016 there were 36.7 million people living with HIV, of which 20.9 million are on antiretroviral therapy. Regrettably, since the onset of the global HIV epidemic women have been disproportionately affected and infected by HIV. According to UNAIDS, HIV disproportionately affects women and girls because of vulnerabilities created by unequal cultural, social and economic status.
The Early Years
Jaye, revealed that at about age 9 or 10 she went to live with her grandmother in St. Mary because her mother returned to school. It was during this time that she went to live with her grandmother for approximately 2 years until her mother completed her studies. Life in the early days was a bit of challenge for Jaye and her family. She lived in a 3 bedroom house which was a combination of board and concrete. There was no inside bathroom, in fact their bathroom was a pit latrine surrounded by sheets of zinc. The family also had to cook outside. “It was very challenging because while we were preparing meals, water from the zinc would be leaking over the fire and we had to be blowing with our mouths and fanning’ (by using a pot cover) to keep the flames alive” Jaye continued, “ The house was mainly surrounded by Hibiscus plants which was cut and shaped by a machete. The Hibiscus plants was what was used for a ‘door’ or covering for the bathroom. Life for Jaye and her siblings was rather routine and simple and consisted of school, church and home. “We could not miss church or school unless it was really necessary”. “Sometimes, however, we had to be absent from school and travel many miles on foot through hills and valleys to my father’s farm to help reap the crops for sale”.
Just like childhood, adulthood proved to be quite distressing for Jaye. She got married at 21, having met her husband during college. “I was still residing with my parents; however, I became a pregnant unmarried woman and was thrown out of my parent’s house. I was told to leave because of the shame and disgrace on the family and community. This was because of my family social standing”.  Jaye, revealed that she was infected with HIV through her husband.  “He got ill at one point, started to lose weight and decided to visit the doctor. Tests were done for cancer and other conditions, but all results came back negative. It was then the doctor decided to do a HIV test. This came back positive. He was diagnosed then with full blown AIDS. I later did my test and it came back as HIV Positive. I was very angry and afraid. When he became aware of my status, he was very sympathetic. However until this year 2017, he still insists that he does not know how he contracted it .I was accused by his mother that I was the one who came from Jamaica and infected him because he was quite fine before he met me. Being a womanizer, promiscuous and dishonest, there is no question as to how he contracted it”.
Family Support            
It makes a huge difference to have the support of family and friends while facing any disease, more so HIV. “My family members are now aware of my status. I kept it from them for about a year. I suffered in silence. I did not disclose immediately because of the series of events that led to that point. I was guilt ridden (and still is) because I blamed myself for the pregnancy, so I was thinking that everything that led to that was my mistake. My older sister was the first person I told. Following that, the rest of my immediate family was made aware. They were extremely angry but very sympathetic .There was some relief knowing that they finally knew and that I could receive their support. I am still receiving their support.  Yes my mom knew about my status. She supported me through the years. I was grateful for that, as many persons are not that lucky or fortunate”.  
Living with HIV
“My life has changed dramatically since being diagnosed. I am no longer the person who I used to be, mentally, physically, socially, emotionally. I no longer have trust in anyone. Living with HIV is not easy. It can be, or seems to be for some people, as each one is affected in some similar or different way. I do experience lots of fatigue particularly because of my mental state. I became chronically depressed and was in a very dark place. I was diagnosed with Chronic Depression and PTSD. Even with medication that did not help. As a result my doctor decided to add another medication to boost the anti –depressant. I became more of a recluse and most often times still is. There is sadness, fear, anxiety anger and guilt. People often say that they understand, but what is it that they understand? How can they really understand? The moods come and go, there are days when I just feel like not going anywhere or seeing anyone or doing anything. For months I can remember I was just in my room not doing anything, not wanting anyone to bother me. There is the constant worry about, what if……? What if…..? Health care is great and I am on the best medications, but I still ponder these questions, what is happening in my body? What if the medications suddenly decide to fail? What then? I have become more aware of my body and its reactions. If I see something not looking right or there is an unusual feeling, then I begin to think. There is the feeling of rejection. I have not been in a relationship for many years, and that is because I was rejected twice for being honest. That is something I do not want to experience again. It is one of the worst feelings. You are made to feel dirty, scarred, unworthy, unwanted, unclean, a death sentence and a constant reminder of what you have. That is no way to live. There is the fear of never finding that person who will accept you and love you for who you are. There is constant fear and worry of HIV disclosure, when to disclose, how to disclose, should you disclose, and the partner’s reaction after disclosure, as well as the implications of disclosure. As a result, there is the constant feeling of loneliness and unworthiness. Seeing people falling in love, walking holding hands, marrying , having fun, spending time with each other makes me sad, make me feel unworthy discarded and unloved because I know what I have and the misconceptions and stigma surrounding HIV. And what makes it worse is that the negative experience you have with some of those who are against stigma and discrimination or those who are supposed to be ‘educated’ it doesn’t get any easier. Sometimes there is difficulty in concentration as the mind often wanders. I am here, but in fact I am not here. The lack of sleep, anxiety, irregular and sometimes unhealthy eating habits, loss of appetite are all some of what I experience. I constantly worry about the stigma and discrimination and that bothers me. Taking my medications daily is a constant reminder of what I have, and that contributes to my depression as well. I know there are many who are trying to help and many who will say, “you are not alone”, but you are indeed alone. When in your private ‘space’ and you look at yourself from the outside, that is when it really hits you, that you indeed are alone. I have not reached the point of acceptance after all these years”. “On a daily basis I take three tablets which include 2 for depression and PTSD. When I was first diagnosed I was taking four tablets per day, two in the mornings and the evenings”. However, with advancements in medicine, those persons infected by HIV/AIDS are able to live longer and more fulfilled lives.  Many HIV/AIDS persons no longer have to be taking three or four tablets per days. As with all medications, there are side effects. But the way in which they affect me, might not necessarily affect another person at all or in the same way. In addition not all HIV/AIDS meds have the same side effects. I am thankful that I have not been experiencing any severe side effects of my medication. I have only been nauseous a few times along with a lack of appetite. Other common side effects are diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, body fat redistribution and lactic acidosis which includes difficulty breathing, fast or irregular heartbeat, weakness, unusual muscle pain and dizziness.
Jaye provided some heartfelt and sound advice for those who are infected as well as for those who are sexually active but are unaware of their HIV status. “To those infected by HIV/AIDS I say, live in the now and not be too be caught up in fears about what the future holds. Try to find a balance to live with your medical status by not allowing HIV/AIDS to control your life. Try to be hopeful, take care of your health and most important, adhere to your medication regime. Always try to do the things that make you feel good. Try to avoid negative energies and do not let the opinions of others control who you are. Surround yourself with beautiful things, embrace today and live today for tomorrow. Try not to become a recluse but try to connect with others so as to establish a chain of support. HIV/AIDS does not define you. There is life after HIV”.
Living by Faith
Jaye shared a little about her faith and how her anchor in God was tested. “It has been a struggle for me regarding my faith, as I used to question why God allowed this in my life and all the ‘domino effects’ after. Is it my punishment from Him because I was an unmarried pregnant woman? Or is it something having a greater meaning or purpose? I do not know the answer. However what I can say is that if it weren’t for God, I would not be alive and healthy at this moment. I could have been like countless others, being homeless, abandoned, banished, sick and suffering and without support. I am grateful everyday for His blessings and mercies. I can see His blessings in my life. There are still many doubts at times and my faith wavers, but I do try my best, as I am thankful and grateful everyday for what I have  and how far I have come, and I know I have much more to contribute”.
The Cost of Medication
The cost of medication is expensive regardless of where one lives. According to Jaye who currently lives in Canada it cost $5,000 Canadian dollars for three months supply of antiretroviral drugs (ARV’s). However, she quickly adds that the State provides assistance with the cost of the medication.  The federal, provincial, and territorial governments of Canada are responsible for the administration of their own publicly-funded out-patient prescription drug benefit program. Each offers varying levels of coverage, with different eligibility criteria, enrolment processes, deductibles etc.
Some are income-based universal programmes. Most have specific programmes for population groups that may require more enhanced coverage for high drug costs. Some examples are Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) programme provide coverage for drugs listed on the ‘Drug Benefit List’. Interim Federal Health (IFH) programme provides limited temporary health insurance to protected persons, including resettles refugees, and refugee claimants in Canada through three basic types of coverage. There is also the Canada Forces Health Services (CFHS) which is the designated health care provider for Canada’s military personnel.    
Regardless of the jurisdiction which governs us, we all belong to one race, the human race and should therefore show compassion and empathy towards those who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The global World AIDS Day campaign with the theme: Right to Health fits perfectly with the WHO slogan of Everyone Counts. The WHO continues to advocate for access for safe, effective, quality, and affordable medicines in reaching the goal of universal health coverage.  It bares thought that meaningful and sustainable development cannot be achieved if the AIDS epidemic continues unabated and is allowed to drain our human resources. A concerted global campaign is required as we work towards better medicines and a world without AIDS. On this World AIDS Day, December 1, I wish to wholeheartedly thank my friend Jaye for sharing her story, a story of hardship, resilience and survival. In all the years I have known Jaye I have never seen her frown. She is always so very engaging and generous.  I truly hope Jaye’s story will provide some inspiration for someone who is going through a similar journey. As the interview came to a close Jaye made an appeal in a powerful statement “Get tested, at least once per year. There are many who have the virus but are not aware of this. It can be present in the body, but at the time of testing, does not have a positive indication. It is also necessary to remember that the virus is not only transmitted through sexual intercourse. Hence the importance of annual testing”.
Jaye, strongly believes in giving back and as such she is a volunteer with several support groups. These support groups assist with accommodation, medical referrals, child support, internet access and educational upgrading to name a few. The groups have been my tower of strength and support. I would not have made it this far without them, Jaye added.    
As a society we need to create and engage in more public education campaigns, especially those of a gender transformative nature which will appeal to men while at the same time reduce violence and serve as a tool of empowerment for women. Jamaica continues to lag behind in terms of passing legislation which will make it a criminal offense for a HIV positive person not to disclose their status before engaging in sexual behaviours and this needs urgent attention. In the closing words of Jaye, “Discrimination, stigma and banishment only adds salt to the wounds of the affected”.
The pseudonym Jaye was used so as to conceal the identity of the interviewee.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#EveryoneCounts #MyRighttoHealth #WorldAIDSDay #sustainabledevelopmentgoals #culture #gender #violence #stigma #discrimination #depression #UNAIDS #womenshealth #healthcare

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Male Sex Drive

The male sex drive is undoubtedly one of the most powerful urges which oftentimes seems unbridled to our female counterparts. However, if one subscribes to Darwinism, one might argue that this cannot be helped and that men are merely acting out their animal instincts.
Much of a man's masculinity is bottled up in his sexual capability. It can be argued that should man’s sexual capability be taken away then man and manhood would be viewed as a lion without teeth. This untamed sexual urge has held man captive from the beginning of time; however, this should not detract from having a good healthy sex drive.
Masculinity and Pornography
It bares thought that pornography has becomes more than just an attraction. If masculinity is caught up in sexuality and viewed solely via this lens; then pornography is undoubtedly an affirmation of masculinity for many. Pornography appeals to; the visual, stimulates the physical and temporarily satisfies the emotional, without a commitment.
It is often said that a man needs respect. Every man wants to feel like a king and been seen as being the man in charge. Pornography provides a vicariously experience.  The female in most cases serves the man who compliments and boosts his ego until he fulfils his desires to the tune of more compliments and affirmation.  Affirmation of young men via paternal unit would be an effective start to curbing this issue. Equally importantly is, having a positive male figure to mentor young men about manhood go beyond sex.
Sexual Desires
I once heard of a man who got aroused by being slapped in the face with pies. Whatever floats your boat is fine, as long as it's not illegal. Without an understanding partner a man finds comfort in those he watch openly carrying out acts he so passionately desires. However, it's been found that through proper communication, these desires can be expressed and often fulfilled by an understanding spouse.  So as personalities are different likewise are our desires.  However, limits must be drawn with sexual desires. These desires must be satisfied and freely served by both parties. For example, a man's desire for a threesome is generally him along with two others; however, the female partner idea about this is usually not taken into much consideration. For most the idea just became distasteful. A man must reach the point where he openly discloses his feelings and sexual desires to his spouse. In so doing he can express greater control over this part of his masculinity. It is always best to master one’s sexual urges than to be mastered by it. Sometimes our sexual desires deviate far beyond the boundaries of what is considered normal. This is a sensitive and sometimes a secret part of our lives. In many instances this secret becomes our second life. The porn industry has recognized this and as any smart business would the industry has capitalized on it. This industry has filled some of our darkest desires and in doing so has comforted many who has long to fulfill those desires. However, this desire at some point cannot be fulfilled only with the visual and once again the porn industry answers the call becoming match makers.  I for one will not say that a spouse should give in to the every desire of their mate, but a relationship should have open communication without the fear of being ridicule. Let's face it; some of these desires can be out right dangerous.
Reality versus Fantasy
We also run into the issue of unreal expectations. What is done on camera in many cases is finalized by editing.  The one hour sex session is subject to editing as well as the directors take on things. However, many watch thinking this is a true depiction of reality and develop unreal expectations. The reality is; many women in porn do not like what they do and some wish they could erase all footage of themselves from circulation. I was once told by a former porn star that in many of her filming she was under some kind of influence to make it easier. So porn not only obscures our view of manhood but predetermine our sexual interaction and expectations based on mere dramatization. Paying for a private strip show, lap dance or voyeur session is not the same as maintaining a relationship and surely cannot be compared with cohabitation. It is void of commitment; the pillow talk, hugs and cautious but selective language. Money answers all those things. It can be argued that such a person has detached himself from such responsibility and seems the better for it. However, the same person reaps its effects, for example, when he is ill or wanting to vent and how sorry that life must be when such an individual is penniless or without internet access.
Pornography truly brings pleasure and we must not deny this. However, we must see it for what it is. In most times pornography is the director’s view on reality to heighten sexual arousal and fulfill unrealized fantasies. The question we should then ask is; how does one separate oneself from the porn ideals and keep focus on what is reality in order to have a healthier sexual and overall relational life.

Andrew Nugent,
#pornography #sexdrive #masculinity #manhood #sexualfantasy #culture #society #Darwinism #communication #internet #relationship #voyeurism #intimacy #mentoring #rolemodel