PORT MARIA, St Mary:BETHEL UNITED Church has embarked on a strategy to help members of the church and the wider society find meaningful employment and ultimately reduce crime and poverty in the parish.
Bethel Empowerment Agency No Limits A/V (BEA/AV), although in its initial stage, has already hit the international market, exporting locally made cables, which are in demand in the audio visual industry.
Two persons have been employed and have undergone training in the art of assembling the cables.
Oreth Miller, a certified electrician and former cable technician, said the programme has given him an opportunity to grow.
"Being a member of the church and having some knowledge of electronics, naturally, I was drafted into the programme. It's good, enlightening. There is room to grow," he told The Gleaner.
Dwighth Reid said he, too, was drafted into the programme, because of his affiliation with the church and the fact that he is a trained computer technician.
"It was an opportunity to advance myself in my skilled area. It's something I could put on my résumé, which would make me more employable in the future, and I've learnt a lot more about audio visual and socialising, because I'm not very social," Reid explained.
The programme is an outreach ministry of the Bethel United Church. It was established in May 2012 in partnership with the No Limits A/V out of Indiana, United States of America.
According to the Reverend Leo Hall, the ministry is specifically geared towards using modern innovations, namely electronics, multimedia, sound-systems, audio and video production, and cable assembling to create employment opportunities.
"Some years ago, we were reflecting as to how we could create an entity within the church that would facilitate young minds and create training and employment for them. You find that many people are unemployed, and it creates stress for the family. That's when we started working with Cable One Company. We took control of one of the channels that we named Glory TV," Hall explained.
He continued: "We were introduced to a couple in the US, in Indiana, who operates a company in the US called No Limits A/V, and in talking to them, we decided that Bethel Empowerment Agency could work with them as co-sponsors. Last year, we got the programme started with the employment of Dwighth and Oreth. We did try to get them to the US to get training because they are going to be the pioneers."
However, Hall said that didn't happen, as the two were denied US visas, but they opted to use the Internet as an alternative for training.
"The cables are just one aspect of what we do. We are basically in media in terms of sounds, video, and all the multimedia," Hall told The Gleaner.
He said they were augmenting the cable aspect of the programme in order to widen the scope for employment.
"We also do video editing and graphics as well as advertisement and short documentaries, and we also started building a studio. It will be the first state-of-the art studio in St Mary. We are confident in saying that because we already have quite a bit of the equipment here already," he explained.
Hall said his dream is that in the next five years, the ministry would provide employment for 25 persons, but he said he expected more support from the Government.
"BEA is a registered company, so what we are really doing is to support what the Government is asking. I heard the prime minister talking about if people try to initiate certain things, the Government will do something. So I'm asking my MP, when they are going to do that for me, that which the prime minister committed," he questioned.
"But here we have people who are fully employed and they are guaranteed a salary. Even if things get slow, we have to make sure they get a salary," he told The Gleaner.
The pastor said the organisation was faced with the challenge of tapping into the local market.
"I guess it is a cultural thing. They believe, oh it mek a Jamaica, so it no good, but the truth is it's made here in Jamaica and it is the best, and the Americans are enjoying it."