At 21 years-old, Rasheed Morris is a Violence Interrupter for UNICEF’s partner the Peace Management Initiative, serving the Kingston community of Hannah Town. He is one of 130 VIs in Jamaica, volunteering in violence-prone communities to intervene with at-risk youth, prevent violent conflicts and mediate flare ups. The work is highly risky.
What inspired my path in life me was my father being murdered when I was in sixth grade, when I was 12. I saw that type of life and if I went down that road – to go and kill who killed my father – then I realised that it would become a cycle.
His son would grow up and hear that I killed his father and then he’d come back and kill me. There was a lot of temptation because a lot of my father’s friends would see me and say ‘yu see dat man dere, a him kill yu fadda an yu kno yu fi go buss out him head.’
Many youths experience similar loss
A lot of youths go through these things: to lose a family member and to be tempted to take a life in revenge. But I was able to sit down and think it over and I decided to go my way.
At that time I already had a lot of life experience growing up in Hannah Town. However, I had my aunties who backed me, who supported me, who told me to leave it to God. And I went to church.
I’ve been in the streets. The youths that are involved in the gangs, these are the youths I grew up with. And I’ve always like being around older people so most of the youths and most of the badmen we can rap and listen to what they have to say.
Life put me in this position to help
So I reason with them and I can relate back to them and we can get along.
It’s not about age because you have a 40-year-old and they are reacting to a situation like a five-year-old. Life just put me in a position to think differently, to think on a higher level.
So instead, I feel like I can be an inspiration for other persons out there who have lost a father that way, to not go down that road.