Career & Education

Rodain Richardson: youth motivator and aspiring politician

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 14, 2018

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Have you ever heard about Chhaupad?

Well, if not, it is a social tradition associated with the menstrual taboo most evident on the western part of Nepal in South Asia.

Jamaican Rodain Richardson says he first encountered the tradition during his recent visit to the Nepalese capital Katmandu for the Glocal International Teen Conference, between August 31 and September 4.

Richardson recently returned home and has since begon his first year as a student at The University of West Indies (The UWI), where he studies law. But he is concerned that women are still being sent to a cattle shed each month during their menses.

“I was surprised to see that the women were forced to live in an outside shed during menstruation, and if they touch anyone during that period they would have to drink cow's urine and accept other means of cleansing themselves,” he pointed out.

According to Wikipedia, this period of time lasts between 10 and 11 days when an adolescent girl has her first period; thereafter, the duration is between four and seven days each month. Childbirth also results in a 10-to-11-day confinement. During this time, women are forbidden to touch men, or even to enter the courtyard of their own homes.

They are barred from consuming milk, yogurt, butter, meat, and other nutritious foods, for fear they will forever mar those goods.

The women must survive on a diet of dry foods, salt, and rice. They cannot use warm blankets and are allowed only a small rug; most commonly, this is made of jute (also known as burlap). They are also restricted from going to school or performing daily functions like taking a bath.

But that was not the sum of Richardson's visit to Nepal as the youth parliamentarian for Kingston Central. The trip came about after he saw an advertisement about the conference on the Internet and sent in an application to represent Jamaica.

As the only Jamaican attending the conference, he shared the country's youth policy with young people from across the world attending the meeting, and was involved in discussions on various issues, including sexual reproductive rights.

“My focus was on youth empowerment,upliftment and cooperation. I dealt with issues affecting youths and their inability to make use of the available resources, the methods of achieving success and the importance of cooperation among youths, including the youth parliament in Jamaica... and they appreciated what I had to say,” Richardson stated.

Studying takes up most of his time, currently. But he continues his service to his age group not only as a youth parliamentarian, but also as executive director of the Jamaica Rural Youth Foundation and as the founder of the Jamaica Youth Motivators Man Transformational, both of which are vehicles to motivate high school students to reach for their dreams.

Incidentally, he has been operating these motivational organisations without any financial assistance, outside of his own meagre schooling resources and a part-time four-month job he had held as a reference clerk at the Jamaica Public Service (JPS).

He said that he got the JPS job after walking all over New Kingston seeking work, just when he was about to give up.

“I just went into JPS and I explained to them my financial position and the security guard said he would call somebody for me. I got to speak to Gina Thompson at the JPS and, after explaining my situation to her, she took me upsatairs and spoke with me. She was so impressed with the way I delivered myself and she helped me to get the job,” he explained.

He also recalled Robert Nicely, his mentor, who assisted him through the four months at JPS. Eventually, he was employed by the BPO company Sutherland Global, where he is still working, part-time, while attending The UWI.

He started the Jamaica Youth Motivators in April 2017, following the stabbing of a high school student on a Jamaica Urban Transit Company bus.

“”We do school visits and go to the schools twice or once per month and hold mentoring sessions, and we train other students to become able to mentor the students when we are gone,” he noted.

A former student of Ardenne High School, he started his formal education at Mavisville Preparatory School in Vineyard Town, where he lives with his mother, Garcia Brown. His father, Radcliffe Richardson, lives in Manchester.

Not surprisingly, he was head boy at Mavisville and senior prefect at Ardenne.

Richardson's primary aim is to serve people and, according to him, the organisations he has founded has given him that opportunity. But he says, he aims to go higher.

“I see myself having a deeper interest in politics later on. Right now I am exploring my career path, which is dependent on being able to find the resources, financially,” he said.

“But I do hope to venture into representational politics, because I believe in serving people and building Jamaica, and helping to erect a more realistic sustainable foundation for Jamaica,” he added.

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