Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Friday, April 14, 2017
Observer column published 10 April 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin
PHOTOS FROM AFJ FACEBOOK PAGE
|William Mahfood receives his award from|
AFJ President Wendy Hart
|Former US Ambassador to Jamaica Hon Brenda LaGrange-Johnson|
US Ambassador Hon Luis Moreno and Mrs Moreno
show respect to their National Anthem
The tribute video featured Sister Mary Benedict Chung, who noted that as Chairman of the Laws Street Trade Training Centre, William Mahfood is never too busy to assist her in the service of Jamaica’s poor in Kingston’s inner city. The legendary Shaggy explained that it was when William sat with him and his wife Rebecca to create a structured approach, that the Shaggy Foundation really took off, earning millions for the Bustamante Hospital for Children.
Philanthropy runs in the Mahfood family. They are founders of Food for the Poor, now serving millions in 17 Caribbean and Latin American Countries. Their company WISYNCO has grown into a multi-billion group of companies, but as a staff member commented, their Chairman still makes the time for the humblest of his employees. During his recent presidency of the PSOJ, William was known for his energetic advocacy of good governance and the promotion on inclusivity for national partnership.
|The Mahfood Family with Orville 'Shaggy' Burrell|
|William Mahfood and friend Shaggy|
|Beverley Levy and Tourism Minister|
Hon Edmund Bartlett
|Shaggy and wife Rebecca enjoy the vibe|
|The elegant Hon Audrey Marks, Jamaican Ambaasador|
to the US, and friends
When the young politician Damion Crawford described his 1-2-3 plan for education in his community, William took the time to call me and bring Damion to my office, so I could write about this unique approach. William Mahfood has a passion for education and has quietly supported and mentored many young Jamaicans. William and his wife Frances are a philanthropic power couple – Frances (nee Feanny) is a giver in her own right and a caring nutritionist with the Heart Foundation of Jamaica. We are proud to know them.
Other AFJ awardees were Mrs. Sheryl Gillian M. Wynter, a team member of the Consulate General of Jamaica in South Florida and Dr. Kevin Coy, a highly skilled cardiologist who has saved many lives in his capacity as a Senior Physician at the Aventura Hospital and Medical Centre of Mercy Hospital in South Florida.
|Former US Ambassador to Jamaica, |
the inspiring Hon. Pamela Bridgewater presents
an award to Mrs. Sheryl Gillian M. Wynter
The pledges came in thick and fast at the Charity Gala, bolstering the US$310,000 presented to various Jamaican organisations last Monday by the AFJ. The Board of the American Friends of Jamaica comprise former US Ambassadors to Jamaica and their colleagues. The AFJ Board is led by President Wendy Hart, Presidents Emeriti retired Ambassadors Glen Holden, Sue Cobb, and Brenda Johnson, Treasurer Barron Channer, Secretary James A. Coda, and other Directors, retired Ambassadors Pamela Bridgewater and J. Gary Cooper; other philanthropists Patricia Falkenberg, Monica Ladd, Paula Campbell Roberts, Michele Rollins, Dr. Laura Tanna, Glenn Creamer and Sydney Engel.
|Dr Kevin Coy with his Award|
To date, the American Friends of Jamaica have contributed over J$60M (US$470,000). Recipients include The Alpha Institute, The Good Shepherd Foundation, Fight for Peace, The Pocket Rocket Foundation, Cornwall Regional Hospital and SOS Children’s Village. This outpouring of support shows how convinced our international friends are of our potential. Now we need to match strides with them to show our appreciation for their faith in our country.
Why is it that so many Jamaicans are not moved to do for our own country what others do for us? Perhaps our people are disheartened about the garbage, joblessness and are immobilized out of frustration. However, it becomes very embarrassing when those outside of our country continue to give so willingly while we become closed to the neediest among us. While our people should be getting closer attention from our Members of Parliament and Councillors, it is still our duty as citizens to reach out to others. No innocent child or helpless elderly should be allowed to suffer because “is Govament business”.
The horrendous murder of a 14-year-old by an 11-year-old in Trelawny led to the discovery by the Child Development Agency of a five-year-old in the same district being mercilessly abused. This co-incidental discovery leads one to wonder how much child abuse is going unnoticed throughout our country.
Without early intervention, traumatized children will manifest their anger in the anti-social behaviour that is rife in the country. Again, this column repeats the call for an incentive programme to train more social workers to promote harmony in families and in communities.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column - 3 April 2017
The recent finale of the four-year Education Enrichment in 104 primary schools throughout Jamaica, demonstrates the power of partnership. The Ministry of Education, Digicel Foundation and the USAID came together to create enrichment rooms in these schools, targeting the slower learners with the use of information technology and colourful visuals.
As USAID Mission Director Maura Barry Boyle noted, “The programme has impacted over 43,000 students, 6,000 parents and more than 200 teachers and principals combined. We are proud of this achievement. Due to our collective effort, Jamaica’s literacy rate at the Grade 4 level now exceeds the Ministry’s national target of 85%.”
State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Information and Youth Floyd Green, remarked on the 99 Parent Places where parents are trained to assist their children’s learning. “The Parent Places fulfil a dual role by providing a space for parents … allowing them to have a physical presence in the school.”
At the event, we were impressed with the various learning aids on display, including the innovative BookFusion which gives free access to children’s books online. Technology is opening new paths for our children, and it is significant that slow-learning boys have responded positively to the new methods in the enrichment centres.
- Jean Lowrie-Chin (honoured to be Chairman of the Digicel Jamaica Foundation)
by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Excerpt from Observer column - 3rd April 2017
|Alan with his dear Kerry and friends at|
|RJR Group CEO Gary Allen presents a cheque|
to the phenomenal Alan Magnus
|Dorraine Samuels had fond|
and funny memories of their
morning radio escapades!
|Marie Garth flew in|
looking as chic as ever!
We can relate to Minister Ruel Reid’s recollection that ‘Calypso Corner’ was his signal to have all in place to set out by 7am as a student, and the cheerful voice that gave him an upbeat start to each day. It takes a generous heart to know that whatever the environment, people need to know that life does indeed have a bright side to strengthen their coping skills. We are all in Alan Magnus’ debt for his gentle humour, a comfort zone in which we could prepare for whatever the day would bring.
It was wonderful to get together with other radio legends Marie Garth, Radcliffe Butler, Don Topping, Norma Brown-Bell and Ralston Smith to honour Alan. His voice remains ever young, and will still be heard. We hope his daughter author Kellie Magnus will write his rich history. Thank you for your over four decades of service Alan Magnus – have a wonderful retirement with your beloved wife Kerry and family!
Jamaica Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin
published 3 April 2017
The countries dubbed the happiest in the world are those which provide solid social services for their citizens. This does not come at an easy cost but as one of my friends from Norway told me, “I pay my taxes with a smile!' Svein says he is assured that his children will be able to grow up in a nurturing environment and that as he and his wife age, there will be health and other services to support them.
Unfortunately, those of us in Jamaica who are called upon to pay dramatically increased property and other taxes, cannot look forward to such benefits from the State. Having made such an inspiring Budget presentation, this is a time for our Prime Minister to lead the charge for a new political will. This would reassure the Jamaican people that their taxes are being used to run an efficient public service. It is Jamaica’s obese public service which homeowners are now being asked to finance to the detriment of the country’s financial well-being. Most of these homeowners have mortgages to pay, and many are elderly pensioners who can barely find the funds for the upkeep of their homes.
Last week this column quoted some encouraging sections from the Prime Minister’s Budget presentation in which he outlined plans for creating employment and making more young people employable. However, the Prime Minister and his colleagues in Cabinet cannot be deaf to the outcry of their people who have financial, security, health and environmental challenges. Honest, hardworking citizens have become prisoners in their own homes. Even if wealthier folks can afford the many safety devices on the market, how will businesses continue to operate if they now resort to online shopping for fear of being robbed in public places.
From whence did these criminals spring? The decades-long alliances of both JLP and PNP politicians with unsavoury individuals developed into gangs they could no longer control. What a great day it would be if MPs and Parish Councillors took a visible, active role in being agents of peace and justice. They are a sizeable team for 2.7 million citizens – 63 Members of Parliament and 224 Parish Councillors. What a great boost it would be for our Jamaica Constabulary Force if they knew that they could rely on every single politician in this country to help preserve the peace though fostering neighbourhood watch programmes. The cynical “safe seat formula” continues to put fear in the hearts of residents of certain areas who still cannot safely cross a street dividing communities along party lines.
If these leaders had to operate without personal security detail, they would probably be more sensitive to the terror that is being visited on our communities, deeply affecting our elderly.
In the meanwhile, I have to thank the security companies who have offered our members of our Senior’s organization CCRP discounts on security systems. They are: Guardsman, Hawkeye and King Alarm. I am appealing to those who have elderly relatives to sit with them, examine their environment and work out a safety plan for them. Ensure that emergency numbers are posted at strategic points and that they are entered in their mobile phones for quick response. We have to also try to be the eyes and ears for our neighbours, as it seems that no community, rich or poor, is immune.
There are so many good citizens who have given and are still giving of their all for their country. Let them not be discouraged by so many obstacles, many of which can be removed by a new resolve for good governance in sphere of public life.
Friday, March 31, 2017
Jamaica Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin - published MON 27 March 2017
|Edie Weiner - JIS photo|
Ten years ago, she says her high calibre clients were so impressed by her guidance, that they wondered how she was getting it so right. She explained that her team uses 30 different thought processes to arrive at their recommendations. Learn more at www.thefuturehunters.com.
Most important of all, she says, is to recognize your ‘educated incapacity’, as you can “know so much about what you already know that you are not looking outside”. She observed that educated people having acquired so much knowledge, that they hang on to it like an expensive piece of luggage. This is backward, as she pointed out that while we are hanging on to these brand-name “bags”, someone is racing into the future with their futuristic “backpacks”.
|PM Holness with business leader Richard Byles|
While these are great plans, we should heed Edie Weiner’s warnings that the rapid advance of technology is creating disruption. She noted that what was described as a recession in the early 90s was actually a result of the new disruptive technology. “This was not a recession,” she said, “it was a fundamental global revolution”.
She says, when asked the question “what should children be studying now to be assured of employment?” her answer is that they should become plumbers, electricians and stone masons. Weiner urged an emphasis on critical thinking in education, stating, “In the future no one will be paying for “smart”. They will pay for the intelligence that enables you to figure out things that you have never seen before.”
Our ‘unattached youth’
Weiner’s advice should be taken on board, as the Government develops the Employment aspect of their commendable HOPE Programme. “It is estimated that there is a pool of approximately 120,000 to 130,000 young persons between 15 and 24 years of age who are not in school, not in a programme of training, and are unemployed,” noted PM Holness. “While a considerable portion of the unattached would have other institutions, which keep them engaged and supported, such as their family, their church, community activities or sports, a significant proportion of them have no structure, order or guidance in their life.”
“Many of them would not be in institutions long enough to develop character and good citizenship, positive attitudes and skills to assist them in negotiating the challenges of life,” said the Prime Minister. “We see them on the street corners every day when we are going to work and we see them at the same place when we are coming home. They are at home every day becoming increasingly hopeless and frustrated … These are the most productive years in the human lifecycle and we cannot afford to lose the productive value of our human resource. This is also the age group that is most affected by crime and violence.” With so many unattached youth, we should not wonder at the mindlessness and cruelty of recent crimes; the tragedy at Monteith’s, a respected landmark on Mountain View Avenue is horrifying. I believe we should incentivise more students to become social workers.
We have seen the transformation of such communities as Grant’s Pen and Trench Town when young people have been offered training to make them employable. Being sensitive to their immediate needs, when we led the partnership of the Stella Maris Foundation with HEART/NTA, we established the Norma Chang Daycare Centre so that young women could have a safe place to leave their children while they attended classes.
As we consider Weiner’s reminder that the fastest period for brain growth is between 0 to 3 years old, we congratulate the previous and current Boards of the Early Childhood Commission in the Ministry of education led by Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan and Trisha Williams-Singh. Both women continue to collaborate as they have a healthy respect for what each brings to the table: academic understanding of the issues, and sound organisational skills. Thus, the certification of early childhood institutions is being accelerated to give those precious young minds every chance for healthy development.
The Prime Minister noted that several educational bodies would be merged. “The services would be more effective, have greater reach and enroll more numbers if they were streamlined and coordinated. The government has therefore decided to merge HEART Trust/NTA, the NYS, JFLL, and the Apprenticeship Board in to a single entity,” he said. The streamlining of technology for the public sector should promote greater efficiency at less cost for this and other such mergers.
Let’s drop that expensive but burdensome baggage of old thinking – we have Bolt as our symbol of the world-beating speed we can achieve with our own homegrown talent and strategic application.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Students of Knox College direct The Governor-General’s attention to a display from the Science Club. Mrs Dorothy Miller, Board Chairperson of the Knox Group of Schools and Mr Alexander Borne, Principal of Knox College, look on.
Speaking at his annual school tour designed to coincide with the institution's 70th anniversary celebration on Thursday March 23, 2017, His Excellency told a packed auditorium at the Spalding based campus that, "many person's achievements were born out of difficult periods when they decided that they must defy the odds and succeed."
In emphasizing the importance of education, The Governor-General told his rapt audience that it is the most important acquisition for young people to move from poverty and ignorance to a
position of influence.
"Today is a demonstration of the 'Culture of Excellence' that is being nurtured here, and I applaud the teachers for helping to ingrain that keen sense of corporate social responsibility in each student," The Governor-General also observed.
Highlighting the success of Abrahim Simmonds, a Governor-General - I Believe Initiative (IBI) Ambassadors and this year's Queen's Young Leader Awardee for Jamaica, His Excellency shared how Abrahim is inspiring and energizing communities through his own
Governor-General endorsed youth empowerment initiative, JAYECAN.
"Tap into useful and reliable resources in your teachers, parents and mentors…Be an IBIAmbassadors and help to spread positive values and "gleams of hope all across our country," Sir Patrick Allen encouraged the students.
Also explaining the formation of a pearl which is the result of agitation and irritation, The Governor-General reassured students that, at Knox, "your pearl within is being formed."
"There is no reason you who have sight, brain, hands and feet - cannot do well regardless of any challenge that you face," The Governor-General stated.
In the wide-ranging address The Governor-General also urged students to be more careful in their environments, and parents and teacher to be more protective of the children in light of the
recent abduction of women and children.
"It is everybody's business to 'shun the negatives' within homes, schools, communities and even our churches," Sir Patrick Allen charged.
Meanwhile, Mr. Alexander Borne, Principal of Knox College shared his elation about the The Governor-General's seminal visit and tour of the institution at a time when they are 'Celebrating
Excellence, Inspiring the Future.'
The occasion was attended by government officials, business leaders and stakeholders of education.
For More Information, Contact:
Ms. Sonja Simms
Office of the Governor- General and Staff
King's House, Jamaica
1-876- 927-6827/ 550-9460 /564-8043
|The Caribbean Community if Retired Persons - CCRP - has a Skills Bank as we know that our Seniors have so much to offer. Below is our latest mail to members:|
Saturday, March 25, 2017
|Most Hon Portia Simpson Miller|
Observer column published 20 March 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Portia Simpson Miller’s budget presentation last week was in fact a fond farewell. What a journey she has had – serving for over 40 years as Member of Parliament of South West St. Andrew, a constituency of serious challenges, the type that women politicians tend to inherit. It took courage for young Councillor Portia Simpson to step up and campaign to become a parliamentarian, and even more to seek the presidency of the People’s National Party. This column has commented on her exciting career and so today we share excerpts.
From ‘The People Said Portia’ – January 2012
Hearty congratulations to that seasoned campaigner Portia Simpson Miller, president of the People's National Party (PNP) …When G2K copied media an urgent letter protesting a delay by a television station in carrying an anti-Portia ad, I wrote back, "Enough is enough"… Malcolm Gladwell, that gifted writer with Jamaican roots, said that to excel at anything you need to do it 10,000 times. That is why our most memorable mentors are the seniors in our lives. That is why one should never underestimate the political clout of that grassroots veteran Portia Simpson Miller.
… And so, as Portia Simpson Miller ascended the stage at PNP headquarters last Thursday night, flashing her famous smile, and hugging her candidates one after the other, we saw a woman practiced in the way of politics, hitting all the right notes and ensuring that there was "no piece of paper" in her hand.
She started with a well-known Bible verse. Then the DJ played Tony Rebel's song, "Mind what yu say to yu sister, she could be the next prime minister" … She thanked among many, "Comrade PJ Patterson", her helper Marva and Andrew Holness who had called to congratulate her, saying that "he was very gracious". She referred to the welcome sight we saw more of in this than any other previous election, "PNP supporters in orange and JLP supporters in their green hugging in friendly rivalry".
From ‘Dream realised’ - 5 September 2016
Portia Simpson Miller is not simply the Leader of the Opposition, or the President of the People’s National Party. She is the fulfilled dream of thousands of Jamaican women, who saw this humble girl from Woodhall, St. Catherine, rise through the political ranks to become the first female Prime Minister of Jamaica. She is the young girl who grew up to have a fairy-tale wedding, her wedding dress floating royally on the lawns of the University Chapel as she married one of Jamaica’s most respected business executives Errald Miller.
Now that she has entered this challenging phase of her political career, let us tread softly as we tread not only on her extraordinary career, but also on the dreams of thousands of humble Jamaican women. Their utterances of support over the past week are not simply blind political ‘followership’; they are a call for respect for a woman who rose through the patriarchal ranks of politics.
As we have heard women leaders here and abroad reflect on their challenges, we realise how difficult it is for those of us who ‘hold up half the sky’ to ascend to these high seats of office. I am not excusing any of the shortcomings of our leaders. However, it is interesting the level of scrutiny to which women leaders are subject compared to their male counterparts. Think on these things.
From “What is Mrs Simpson Miller’s next move?” - 5 December 2016
We have watched her rise from humble KSAC Councillor to Prime Minister of Jamaica. Portia Simpson Miller has cut an impressive figure in line-ups of regional and global leaders, and has scored a double-page in Time Magazine as one of their personalities of the year. Her visceral political campaigning has made her a hero to her followers and the fear of her opponents.
… As Hillary Clinton will attest, and nearer to home, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, the road for women in politics is that much narrower and rougher. In this male-dominated field of endeavour, women must not only match up to those qualities expected of men in power, but they must also become the pious mother as well as the fashion plate imposed by the glamour media on women. Owning campaign platforms with her strong voice, becoming ‘Mama P’ to her constituents and striding out in impeccable suits, Portia Simpson Miller was able to accomplish more than any other Jamaican woman politician. She ascended to the presidency of the PNP, retaining the position despite several challenges, and served as Prime Minister twice.
Women who choose politics as a career are very brave indeed, and clearly Portia Simpson Miller is one of our bravest. Still, this year marks her 40th Anniversary as a Member of Parliament, and her tenth as PNP President. Before the applause stops and the harsh criticisms escalate, we believe that it would be a good time for Mrs Simpson Miller to resign from the PNP presidency, and representational politics. She will quickly be forgiven for those lapses of temper, and her many other accomplishments will position her as a stateswoman and an icon of feminist determination.
… May she take this decision to prayer, and know that her place in history as Jamaica’s first woman Prime Minister is a very special and lasting one.
And today … Salute!
We salute Portia Simpson Miller. Her Budget presentation was indeed presidential, and the standing ovation from both sides of the House, affirmed her undisputed stature. May she have a long and happy retirement, in the knowledge that she has made her mark, not only on the political landscape of Jamaica, but on our national consciousness. Her life’s work is a message to all Jamaican women and girls: “Yes, you can”.