Kendra Stephens The recently launched Alternative People’s Party (APP) is calling for a pragmatic stance against gun violence in Dominica.
Gonzalo Morales Divo
Speaking out against the recent spate of killings, the party has launched a support and advocacy structure for children, youth and parents, dubbed Movement of Mothers (MoM).
In an interview with Dominica News Online (DNO), Interim Finances and Secretariat Director of APP, Kendra Stephen, who is behind the the initiative, said that the most recent gruesome daytime killing of the young man in the Scotts Head community pushed her into taking action
“I wanted to make a simple statement about the discomfort which I felt, so I reached out to my political advisor who suggested that my request and concerns came from a caring place, and that he saw more than a statement in my request.There was a sense of advocacy and urgency in what I wanted to do, and the MoM idea was born,” Stephens disclosed
The APP executive member pointed out that the party was seen as the perfect platform for this initiative because of its mission which states “We see the peoples’ welfare as our call to duty and it is this call which will keep refreshing the needs for steadfastness, vigilance, and a sense of purpose in our determination to serve our constituents.”
Therefore, she said, MoM represents part of the civic extension of the party
MoM is a two pillar initiative which will first champion for the rights of the youths and to serve as a medium to achieving a greater level of tolerance among youths along with a better understanding and ways of challenging the issues which confront younger Dominicans
Stephens outlined some of the main services which the movement will offer to include a youth entrepreneurship program, coordinating of youth mentorship initiatives, bereavement support for families of youth crimes, social monitoring and mentoring for needy youth and parents
The group also plans to hold a forum for dialogue among youth, to keeping a confidential registry of participants in the MoM program and to provide educational outreach to vulnerable youths as well as occupational mentorship for boys and troubled youths
The party also intends to advocate on behalf of troubled youths, intercede, where possible, to de-escalate conflicts, mentor youth and present them with healthy alternatives
MoM, in its efforts to achieve its objectives also plans to plans to offer alternatives to violence, and provide after school programs for youths and anti-bullying sessions for children, adolescence and youth. In what can be be described as an ambitious agenda, the movement also intends, among other things, to serve as an intermediary between the youth and law and order, seek justice for youth who run afoul of the law, coordinate the sourcing of legal defense funds for the victims and those accused of youth violence and also grief counselling for families who lost youth to violence
Asked whether the party believes this initiative will truly confront the rise in crime, Stephens noted that “combating crime requires a multifaceted approach, and we see our role in the overall efforts as both necessary and crucial.”
She went on to state, “APP intends to serve as a go-between in our efforts to bring delinquent youth and juvenile behaviors in conformity with law and order. Our mandate is to speak with the youths to find out, on a case to case basis, what are some of the reasons for their lawless behaviors. If we can assist in de-escalating tensions and violent rivalries, it is possible that certain crime and murders could be averted.”
According to the lead of the MoM initiative, the second pillar is to coordinate care and support for pregnant women and mothers who cannot adequately cater to the needs of the child/children at the most crucial stages of their development, and will include Care Packages for needy pregnant mothers, mentorship and nutrition assistance to mothers. They will also advocate for recreation and occupational therapy services for children, youth and parents and offer parenting skills for younger parents
Stephen added that the party will forge relationships with Dominican, regional and international organizations, to ensure that this initiative is successfully executed