By Paul Dobbyn
SISTER Teresia Tinanisolo visited Brisbane to alert people to a dark side to Jamaica’s beautiful beaches and rollicking reggae music.
The Fijian-born 76-year-old Marist Missionary Sister wanted to do more than just report on the situation.
She came to raise awareness of her mission to help youth living in Jamaica’s dangerous ghettos and to publicly thank Australians for their financial support through Catholic Mission.
She did so at the launch of Catholic Mission’s World Mission Month dinner launch, held at the Stamford Plaza in Brisbane on September 24.
Despite attempts on her own life, Sr Tinanisolo has spent the past 14 years helping run the Holy Family Self Centre in Montego Bay’s Sacred Heart parish.
Her mission, shared with three other Sisters, is in the heart of Mount Salem’s shantytown where many youth will not make it past their 30th birthday.
Jamaica has the second highest rate of gun killings in the world.
“It gets very noisy some nights at the centre,” she said.
“Gunshots often ring out … then there is the constant blast of music: the reggae music isn’t so bad, but the rap music is terrible.
“The social ills are many with HIV/AIDS and of course poverty major problems.
“Throughout the day we have a constant stream of people seeking support of various kinds.
“The centre’s gates open at 8.30am and don’t close until about 7 at night.”
Sr Tinanisolo was pleased to report on the success of vocational skills training held at the Holy Family Self Centre.
“These programs include cooking, hospitality, sewing, literacy and computer skills for people seeking a better future for themselves and their families,” she said.
“Learning these skills helps many disadvantaged people find work in areas such as hospitality which is becoming a major employer in the growing Jamaican tourism industry.”
Brisbane archdiocese’s Catholic Mission director David McGovern said Sr Tinanisolo had visited Brisbane as part of a national tour.
“This courageous Sister’s visit helped draw attention to our Socktober campaign – ‘socking it to poverty’ – and the campaign theme of ‘When I grow up, I want to be alive’,” he said.
“To just be alive might seem like a simple dream to us.
“But for many of the Jamaican youth born into the ghettos, they know the chances are high that they will never achieve their dreams or that their life will be cut short as a result of the violence.”
Mr McGovern said the Socktober campaign has become a regular part of World Mission Month, which is celebrated each year throughout October, and includes World Mission Day and Children’s Mission Day.
For more information about Socktober, or World Mission Month, contact the Brisbane office of Catholic Mission on (07) 3336 9239 or email David McGovern at firstname.lastname@example.org.