SHIKARA Dockery, 32, is committed to defying the odds, empowering youth and remaining positive.
Born and raised in Tivoli Gardens, Dockery told All Woman that life was no bed of roses, but with the help of her mother she remained resolute that she would have to be the change she wanted to see.
She said her high school days at Jonathan Grant were testament to the struggles she faced, as she often relied on her friend Keisha Banton for lunch, as her mother could only afford to give her bus fare.
But she persevered under the guidance of a mother who encouraged her to edify her mind.
She was 12 when her household received its first television, and even then, the programmes she was allowed to watch were those that her mother deemed edifying.
“Back then I hardly went outside to play. I spent my time reading, being involved in spelling competitions and when we got the television the only programmes we would watch were Profile, Hill and Gully Ride and things we could learn from,” she said.
At that time, Dockery said she had dreams of becoming a police officer, but after leaving school and doing the entrance test at age 20 and waiting for two years, she forgot about the dream and was pregnant with her first child when she eventually got called.
After the birth of her eldest son, Dockery said she went back to school and again did the entrance test, but again had a long wait. When she was called, she was again pregnant, this time with her daughter. The third attempt saw the same fate and Dockery said she gave up on that dream.
But when the mother of four had to care for her ailing grandmother, now deceased, she said her focus shifted, and now she is pursuing science subjects to enter a career in nursing.
Dockery, however, pointed out that despite her setbacks, she has always remained positive.
“Whenever I hear anything bad from my community, it boosts my energy. If I go out and people ask where I am from and I say Tivoli, they ask me if I am sure. I have always faced the stigma of people saying if you’re from the inner city you’re expected to look and act in a particular way. Even while I aspired to be a police officer I was part of the youth council in West Kingston. A few of us did the test and felt like we were being given the cold shoulder. When it came around that police officers were needed, especially district constables, it was always people from the east side of Kingston or Central Kingston that were chosen. But I always said the change I want to see I have to be part of it. If I don’t live long enough I want those following in my footsteps to carry on,” she stated.
Today Dockery is the president of the Tivoli Gardens Police Youth Club, formerly known as the Presidential Clique Youth Club, and has conducted a number of community-based activities, with a noted one being a collaboration with Shaquille Henry of Faces of Tivoli to host a back-to-school treat for a family in a section of the community known as Rasta City after they lost their possessions in a fire.
Alongside that group, Dockery has also hosted a Ms Tivoli Gardens Competition and Community Festival and gender-based seminars, Sisters Speak and Brothers Speak, which saw panellists like Kamilah McDonald, Brown Shuga, Ayesha Allen and Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green.
She has also teamed up with Neville Charlton of the Positive Organisation which gave birth to a youth club summer camp where the teens from the community are taken outside of Kingston and exposed to seminars geared at equipping them with soft skills and ultimately effecting change. There is also a meeting each Thursday at 6:00 pm that sees different speakers coming into the community to talk about jobs, résumé preparation and to offer other forms of encouragement.
But Dockery said, despite these efforts, several challenges remain, one being teen pregnancy and disinterest from some youth.
“It’s no longer the village raising the child, so you have to contend with children who think they are adults. We have programmes and instances where HEART has come in and said we need at least 50 persons to offer this skill training and very few turn up, so getting children interested in many opportunities is definitely something we are always working on,” she said.
She added: “But I am not giving up on them. We need social intervention programmes, parenting workshops to deal with children with behavioural issues, and some of these have to be held outside of the community to let them see there’s a larger world other than the world they live in. Many don’t leave the community unless they are going to school. We also have to get the ones who are young.”
Outside of her duties, she enjoys spending time with family, but at the forefront of her thoughts is her personal philosophy, “Where I come from doesn’t determine who I am or where I go.”
By Kimberley Hibbert