Saturday, July 14, 2018

BPW Woman of Excellence - Dr Jennifer Mamby-Alexander

Mrs Gloria Langrin, Founding Member of BPW St Andrew presents the Mavis Watts Award
 to the phenomenal Dr Jennifer Mamby-Alexander.

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Observer column published for MON 2 July 2018

When the youthful Dr Jennifer Mamby-Alexander stood up to accept the 2018 Mavis Watts Award from the Business & Professional Women’s Club (BPW) of St. Andrew a week ago, no one would guess that she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer 32 years ago.  Dr Mamby-Alexander has used her experience and triumph to encourage others in their fight against the disease. 

One story she shared in her acceptance speech, shows you the resolve and grit of this woman.  Accepting an invitation to be guest speaker at a function in Nigeria, she packed three suitcases with copies her book, “A Practical Guide to Coping with Cancer” to donate to ladies who had invited her.  When she arrived at the British Airways check-out counter she was told that her bags were too heavy and would not be accepted.  She proceeded to show the representative the book and to explain why she wanted to share them with the Nigerian women she had been invited to address.

“When I was finished explaining,” she told us, “They checked in the three bags and upgraded me to first class without charging me one cent extra!”

Dr Mamby-Alexander, a graduate of St. Hugh’s High and the UWI, has used her cancer experience to help others to fight the disease. The BPW citation notes: “She is owner and founder of Surgipath & Cytology Lab Service, the first non-hospital-based cytopathology laboratory in Jamaica, where fine-needle aspiration biopsies (FNABs) are performed.”  She has even gone even further, qualifying herself in trichology, and establishing The Hair Loss Clinic of Jamaica, “” the first clinic of its kind in the country where patients receive hair transplants and other non-surgical methods of treating hair loss.”

The relentless Dr Mamby-Anderson reminded us that “with challenges come responsibilities”, and dedicated her Award to her Mother, healthy centenarian Isola Mamby and family who supported her “through my darkest days”. BPW St. Andrew could not have chosen a more deserving recipient, aligned with their own mission to work for “equal opportunity and status for women in economic, civil and political life.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

So much to gain from CARICOM unity

New CARICOM Chairman - Most Hon Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica

By Jean Lowrie-Chin

Observer column published MON 9 July 2018

It was really hard on CARICOM to be holding its 39th Heads of Government Conference during the World Cup.  There they were, discussing and signing off on life-changing issues, and there we were, glued to 'the greatest show on earth'. Lucky for them, but to the sorrow of many, the great Brazil lost to a powerful Belgium on Friday, and so folks could drown their sorrows in some positive news out of the conference which ended the same day.

Were it not for 'the big dance' in Russia, we would have been all over the arrival of newly elected Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, especially as Jherane Patmore of WE-Change pointed out on Twitter, she was the lone woman among her colleague prime ministers.  No shrinking violet is this landslide winner, and so she stood up for the many brothers and sisters of CARICOM who have felt unwelcome in certain countries.

There would have been a buzz also around Prime Minister Andrew Holness' assuming the Chairmanship of CARICOM.  He stepped up well-prepared, as our brilliant former Prime Minister Bruce Golding had chaired the Commission to review Jamaica's CARICOM relationship, which produced a substantial report including 33 recommendations for strengthening CARICOM. JIS notes:

 "Among them is that member states should facilitate the full, free movement of people within CARICOM, except in cases of security and public-health risks. They should also push for the harmonization of customs laws, regulations and procedures, among other things.
"Another key recommendation is for Jamaica to seek a clear, definite commitment from all member states to a specific, time-bound, measurable and verifiable programme of action to fulfil all their obligations and complete other requirements for the CSME to be fully established and operational within the next five years."
For too long we have overlooked the many opportunities and underestimated the value of synergizing our efforts for the greater good of the region. Thankfully, our PM signed three Instruments relating to education and security on the last day of the Conference as follows:

1.     Protocol Amending the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to incorporate the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement as an organ of the community and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security as an institution of the Community.

2. Revised Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Examinations Council.

3. CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty.
We cannot begin to measure the gains of families, communities and countries created by our coming together to establish the University of the West Indies.  Imagine if we were to take this to the grassroots level, how much more we could be learning from each other.  I am happy to hear that the citizens of Haiti, a member of CARICOM, will now have the right to stay in member countries for up to six months.  In Jamaica's case, I believe we should welcome them to stay as long as they wish so we could pattern their gentility and have them instruct us in creating exquisite craftwork.


Comments published on Observer website:
    Avatar
    John DePass2 days ago

    So very true. There is far more to gain from being united rather than this unproductive "my island is better than yours" competitive nonsense. It is way pass time to grow up and focus on the important issues like having a true single market, a complete freedom of movement within each island and economic cooperation rather than needless fighting and import protectionism. It makes no economic sense to continue like this and unable to move on from past generational disputes. The Caribbean people, especially the younger generation have moved on and can see the benefits of integration but for these old fogies currently controlling things and hindering all progress. Gentlemen the game is over you have done your time, the gig is up, please move over and allow the next generation to run things. Thank God for Motley and Holness the new generation of Caribbean leaders.

      • Avatar
        Chad Chen2 days ago

        It is increasingly hard to understand why West Indians keep clinging to the unworkable idea of "regional unity".
        The economies of the individual islands are NOT COMPATIBLE. Listen and learn, folks! Jamaica needs a cheap currency. Barbados would be ruined by a cheap currency. Jamaica's manufacturing sector suffers at the hands of Trinidadian manufacturers. 
        Even worse, Jamaica and Trinidad are crime-infested hell-holes that have abandoned the pursuit of decency and high ethics in government. But Barbados and the Windward Islands are frantically trying to avoid the slide into pervasive corruption.
        Guyana and Trinidad have aggressive emerging Hindu majorities that despise the Negro. The remainder of the region would be wise to limit the influx of Hindus into their territories, unless they want to be trampled underfoot and returned to the serfdom they once suffered at the hands of Europeans.
        CARICOM is bad news.

      Monday, June 25, 2018

      ATL’S Golden Gifts to Jamaica

      Hon Gordon 'Butch' Stewart is congratulated by admirers at the ATL 50th Anniversary celebrations.

      by Jean Lowrie-Chin

      (Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column published 18 June 2018)

      We were part of the happy buzz at Hope Gardens last Tuesday, when hundreds converged on Hope Gardens to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Appliance Traders Group.  The Gordon 'Butch' Stewart organisation's ascent from a fledging supplier of air conditioning units in 1968 to the creation of the world-renowned Sandals brand reminds their fellow Jamaicans of our unlimited possibilities. 

      Little did Butch Stewart dream that his early talent at salesmanship would have sky-rocketed him to the pinnacle of the tourism world. Long before branding became a buzz word, Mr. Stewart understood its power. When he was finally able to afford a Mercedes Benz, gained from his success with the sale of Fedders air conditioners in Jamaica, he emblazoned the Fedders logo on the doors of his Benz!  He told his critics that Fedders enabled him to buy his Benz, and so he was proud to promote it. ATL branding was big and bold on his ubiquitous fleet – making unfamiliar names like Hoshizaki a part of our lexicon.

      In 2008, on the 40th Anniversary of ATL, this column celebrated Mr. Stewart's achievements.  We noted that in his book "All That's Good", we could see the synergy of the three basic Christian principles, faith, hope and love:   Only a person of faith would have invested in the run-down Bay Roc Hotel in 1981, rapidly rolling out a gold-standard hotel chain that would cop the most coveted international tourism awards.

      Hope: The classy, meticulous Betty Jo Desnoes remembers the devastating blow dealt by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 to the three Sandals properties in Montego Bay as well as two others being built in Ocho Rios and Negril. She said on hearing the news, "Mr Stewart…began galvanizing. He dispatched every truck he had and bought up every piece of lumber and nails." 
      Hailed by travel writers as "a miracle", the resorts were rebuilt and reopened three months after Gilbert in time for the beginning of the 88/89 winter tourist season.

      Love: Butch Stewart's fatherly, love for his team was reflected in the many tributes featured in the 50thAnniversary video from his long serving employees. He is probably the only boss that calls man and woman alike "darling' – and it sounds perfectly natural! They spoke of his concern for their family members and his keen interest in their professional development.

      The ATL/Sandals/Jamaica Observer/ATL Motors teams reflect our National Motto, "Out of Many One People", and so it was disturbing to hear the unjust accusations levelled at the hotel chain regarding their choice of entertainment, when the only artistes I have ever enjoyed in my many years visiting Sandals are local or Caribbean. 

      Some criticisms descended into downright racist remarks. We have to be very careful that we do not develop a one-sided view of racism. Racism is the act of pre-judging people based on their ethnic origin, whether African, Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern or European. While everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, it is never alright to be racist. We see hurtful comments flying about on social media, and a friend of European roots who was subject to this said she dared not respond as she risked being torn to bits. This is unacceptable and we in Jamaica who are miles ahead of other countries in respect of racial harmony, should protect and nurture this important aspect of our country.

      Indeed the Stewart family has been exemplary: the children who were not allowed to rest on their parents' laurels but had to forge their own paths to success. The eldest, Brian Jardim has made giant steps with his Caribbean-wide business, Rainforest Seafoods, a company which contributes extensively to education and housing for the poor. Adam Stewart has earned his place as CEO of the Sandals Group and ATL Motors, introducing their award-winning eco-friendly practices to their properties and launching the philanthropic Sandals Foundation. Daughter, Jaime Stewart-McConnell is driving the "Orijins" line of natural juices as well as other innovative endeavours.

      The fireworks finale was a fitting metaphor for the star-powered ATL Group, the largest private sector company in the Caribbean. Congratulations to Butch Stewart, dedicated veterans and the entire ATL Team – may you celebrate many more milestones in the years to come.

      Friday, June 15, 2018

      Calabash Well Lit


      Excerpt from Observer column published 11 June 2018
      by Jean Lowrie-Chin
      When we told members of our seniors group, CCRP, that we were having a bus trip to Calabash, we had to lay on a second bus.  Such is the magic of this Caribbean Literary Festival in Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth, founded by Colin Channer in 2001 with the support of two stalwarts, Kwame Dawes and producer Justine Henzell.
      With CCRP members Poet Cecile Jarrett and Dramatist Dr Jean Small

      Linton Kwesi Johnson engages

      Always fun to capture one of  my
      favourite photographers, Collin Reid

      Happy buck-up with Susan Pitter - now making waves in Leeds!
      Four well-chosen readers started the Sunday, final day of Calabash, with excerpts from The Arrivants by Kamau Brathwaite – Isis Semaj-Hall, Winsome Hudson, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Alwyn Scott. The open mike session had great hits and a few misses – emcee Carolyn Cooper managed to control the long-winded ones with good humour and offered to post poems on her new blog.  I am looking forward to that as I would love to revisit some excellent pieces.
      The grand finale of the Tribute to Don Drummond has us on our feet – the Calabash Ensemble, featuring Wayne Armond, Ibo Cooper and Steve Golding hit all the right notes with a treasury of Drummond and Bob Marley mixed in for good measure. Great going Team Calabash!

      Law Enforcement Torch Run - Doing good on the Sabbath


      Observer column published MON 11 June 2018

      by Jean Lowrie-Chin

      It was a lovely morning last Saturday when scores gathered at the entrance of the Police Officers Club on Hope Road for the Law Enforcement Torch Run.  This event is held worldwide by members of the security forces to raise funds for their countries’ Special Olympians. One of my favourite people in the world, Lorna Bell, organized her Special Olympians to pass the Torch to our Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson.


      Hubie and I enjoyed catching up with 
      Jamaica Constabulary Force Commissioner Antony Anderson and ACP Steve McGregor 
      at the #LawEnforcementTorchRun
      Photo by Justine Henzell.

      We can be proud that Jamaica was the first country outside of the US to start the Torch Run several decades ago.  It was also great to catch up with Assistant Commissioner Steve McGregor who has been lauded by this column for his leadership in community policing, and to learn that Deputy Superintendent Cosford Cole continues to farm watermelons each year, donating his sales to the Torch Run.

      If only all our police officers could follow their example. On arriving near the Hope Road/Kingsway intersection, journalist Kemesha Kelly crossed over to us to explain that she had been parked on Kingsway for over half an hour because a police officer said he could not move the barrier for her to cross over to turn on Phoenix Avenue. 

      Further, there was a nurse whose car had also been stopped at the barrier, who needed to just literally cross the street to start her workday at Andrews Memorial Hospital.  Gordon Swaby of EduFocal was also stuck in the line and I learned that his request was met with an insult from the said young officer.

      At this point, I figured only God could help us, so I made my case.

      Me: Sir, God blessed you with the power of discretion, would you please just use it allow these good people to go their way?
      Young Officer: I have my orders and I must stick to the rules.
      Me: But Sir, Jesus Himself taught us that sometimes you have to bend the rules. Don’t you remember when Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath and answered his critics? And actually, today is the Sabbath.
      This stirred something in him because he, who had been talking non-stop, paused thoughtfully and then finally signaled that the barriers be moved. This is the type of attitude that gives the JCF a bad name.
      Meanwhile, heartiest congratulations go out to those caring police officers who, year after year, volunteer their time and other resources to raise funds for our Special Olympians.

      This Jamaica train is rolling


      Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column published 4 June 2018
      by Jean Lowrie-Chin

      “The traffic!” is a common complaint here in Kingston. My theory is that, with our efficient ports and infrastructure, Kingston became a hub after the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria.  Within a week after the storms, I noticed busy hotel lobbies and a deluge of traffic. It follows that with the damage to ports and infrastructure in neighbouring islands, there was dislocation and some relocation to Jamaica.

      I believe these newcomers discovered that we were not as bad as the headlines make us out to be, and have been quietly investing.  When your press is rated in the top ten in the world, it helps to make leaders honest. The fact that we have parliamentary discussions that pull no punches is testimony to our durable democratic system.
      Our first real estate development project:
      Phoenix Central 

      Construction is buzzing, and our own company’s modest initiative showed us that this is a promising industry. The units we had put for sale at our Phoenix Central complex went before the building was completed and the rentals are all taken up. Our humble lot was bought in 1988 and has turned out to be one of our best investments.

      Life can be challenging for our young professionals, so I want them to remember that Jamaica has always been and continues to be a land of opportunity. If we had not tightened our belts in those early days and invested when the chance came up, we would have missed out.  Business gurus remind us to invest in what appreciates, for example real estate and shares in blue-chip companies. 

      Jamaica is becoming even more attractive to foreign investors and we welcome them - so we should be motivated by their enthusiasm to stake our claim in this land we love. You can start small – the NHT offers great rates for that first home or apartment – but start you must. Read the business pages, watch the business interviews and remember that some of our most successful entrepreneurs had very humble beginnings and failures, but they persevered. This Jamaica train is rolling – get on board now.

      Monday, May 21, 2018

      Australia was amazing!

      Australia – the can-do country - excerpt from Jamaica Observer column published 4 June 2018

      by Jean Lowrie-Chin 

      Veteran broadcaster Jean Meserve leads the discussion
      "Tidal Wave: Changing Ocean"
      With colleagues from Jamaica - Peta-Rose Hall
      Chair, Jamaica Forum of IWF and the
      legendary Valerie Facey

      Lively discussion on "Evolution or Devolution:
      Fake News, Opinion, and media bias" 

      On a recent visit to Australia, we enjoyed the energy and good humour of its people. With colleagues Peta-Rose Hall, Chairman of the Jamaica chapter of the International Women’s Forum (IWF) and Valerie Facey, we attended the IWF Annual Cornerstone Conference entitled ‘Evolution – Revolution’.  Thought leaders explored critical global issues including shifting geopolitical alliances, fake news, artificial intelligence, genetics, human origins and the #MeToo movement. We were addressed by Australia Defence Minister Marise Payne and Kelly O’Dwyer, Minister for Revenue & Financial Services and Minister for Women.
      At Dine-Around chez Sophia Beboff

      We always look forward to ‘Dine Arounds’ where we get to know a little more about each other – at the home of Sophia Bobeff, we heard stories of courage and realised how much we had in common.
       Education in Australia must be at a high standard – regardless of position, service personnel were courteous and articulate.  Patriotism was in evidence, as the ‘Proudly Made in Australia’ label was like a badge of honour on myriad products. When we asked for directions, people stopped and took their time to explain exactly what routes to take.
      With hosts Daniel and Elaine Mulcahy

      Touring the Great Ocean Road with guide
      Shane Maloney
      So there we were, walking around unafraid in a strange country, enjoying the free tram that circled downtown Melbourne, which, for the seventh year in a row, has been rated as the best city in the world, and then to Sydney, more diverse but equally hospitable country. We enjoyed a magical cruise to Manly Beach to meet gracious Irish-Australians Daniel and Elaine Mulcahy.
      In Australia, you are bound by law to vote – perhaps this accounts for the engagement of its people.  The Australian model is worth a good study – it has a successful superannuation retirement scheme and is now in its 27th consecutive year of economic growth.

      Thursday, April 26, 2018

      Jamaica Moves Up To 6th in Press Freedom

      Press Association of Jamaica Pleased with Press Freedom Ranking but Still Vigilant

      Statement from PAJ President Dionne Jackson-Miller

      April 26, 2018: The Press Association of Jamaica is pleased with Jamaica's continued good showing on the annual World Press Freedom Index, published by press freedom group Reporters Without Borders.

      Jamaica moved up two places from eighth last year, to sixth this year out of 180 countries.

      In its assessment, Reporters Without Borders stated that: "Jamaica ranks among the countries that most respect freedom of information. The very occasional physical attacks on journalists must be offset against this, but no serious act of violence or threat to media freedom has been reported since February 2009, a month that saw two cases of abuse of authority by the Kingston police. The law decriminalizing defamation passed by the House of Representatives in 2013 was a step in the right direction."

      PAJ President, Dionne Jackson Miller, says "While we are happy about Jamaica's improved ranking, we cannot relax. We must be vigilant as the erosion of press freedom can be insidious."

      "We continue to be concerned about the potential impact of the Data Protection Act on journalism in Jamaica. The Act is now being examined by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament. We have been calling for the practice of journalism to be completely exempted from the provisions of the Act," says Jackson Miller.

      "Even as we celebrate our improved ranking, we acknowledge the threats our colleagues face elsewhere, including physical attacks, and verbal abuse from political leaders," says Jackson Miller.

      The PAJ President notes that "We stand in solidarity with our colleagues around the world, many of whom work in oppressive and dangerous conditions, like the Philippines where the President has warned reporters that they are not exempted from assassination."

      In its overall assessment of the state of press freedom as outlined in the 2018 index, Reporters Without Borders stated that there is "growing animosity towards journalists. Hostility towards the media, openly encouraged by political leaders, and the efforts of authoritarian regimes to export their vision of journalism pose a threat to democracies."

      The report stated that "The United States, the country of the First Amendment, has fallen again in the Index under Donald Trump, this time two places to 45th. A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters as: enemies of the people." 

      In Mexico, which ranked 147th, 11 journalists were killed last year, with RSF calling the country "the world's second deadliest country for journalists in 2017."

      Reporters without Borders has described Turkey as the "world's biggest prison for professional journalists."

      The PAJ says it will continue to add its voice to calls from advocates around the world for the protection of journalists.

      #JournalismIsNotACrime

      #EndImpunity

      Dionne Jackson Miller

      Photo from Jamaica Observer

      Friday, April 20, 2018

      Whirlwind of Positivity for Special Needs

      Excerpt from Observer column published 16 April 2018

      By Jean Lowrie-Chin

      The arrival of Special Olympics International CEO Mary Davis, hosted by the Digicel Foundation, ushered in a whirlwind of positivity for the special needs community last week.  

      We headed out to Lyssons, St Thomas on Tuesday morning for the opening of the 10th special needs centre in Jamaica, sponsored by the Foundation.  The enthusiasm of Mrs. Jaqueline Wilmot Hendricks, Site Coordinator for Lyssons Special Needs Centre was contagious, as we toured the facilities where there are not only instructions in the basic subjects, but projects that can assist in promoting sustainability.  The students proudly showed off large games boards they had painted – Checkers, Ludo and Snakes & Ladders, that will go on sale soon.

      Later that day, we enjoyed the company of our Special Olympians, their staff led by Lorna Bell and Board headed by Alrick 'Alli' McNab, and newly appointed State Minister of Sports, Culture, Entertainment and Gender Alando Terrelonge, coincidentally brother of Emcee and Special Olympics Board Director Paula Pinnock.  We watched the Unified Team of Special Olympians and students from Pembroke Hall Primary engage in a game of bocce – this sees the engagement of students with their intellectually challenged sisters and brothers, promoting respect and inclusion.

      Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Minister Olivia Grange received us at Jamaica House, and we are looking forward to a Labour Day collaboration with Minister Grange, "Ramp it Up" as we build more ramps in schools and public buildings.

      Our 'Conversations on Special Needs' at the Jamaica Conference Centre last Wednesday, included presentations by Pastor Phillip Johnson, the father of an autistic son, and Radcliffe Richards, the father of a daughter with Down's Syndrome.  They moved us with their passion for inclusion, and their conviction that their children are God-given gifts, who have kindled in them and their families deep love and devotion. 

      Senator Floyd Morris, Director, UWI Centre for Disability Studies called on the Government to set an effective Date for the Disabilities Act, passed in 2014, to come into force. Indeed, we learned that countries that do not promote inclusion are losing millions as an increasing number of visitors and investors shop around for special-needs-friendly destinations.