Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Financial Abuse of the Elderly is a sad reality

Excerpt - Address on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day - Thursday, June 15, 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin, Executive Chairman, Caribbean Community of Retired Persons
Seniors display placards asserting their rights
The Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) is joining the National Council for Senior Citizens in observing this very important day - World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, with the theme for Jamaica being, “Understand and End Financial Abuse of Older People: A Human Rights Issue”.

We in Jamaica should be resolute in addressing this serious matter as the scourge of scamming has brought suffering to many elderly in the United States of America and shame on our nation.

Here at home, financial abuse of the elderly is also taking place. We are getting distressing information only a month ago that there are heartless individuals who have attempted to trick NIS beneficiaries into giving them authorization to collect their funds and have stolen these funds from our helpless citizens.

One senior related that a friend's adult child wanted her to
move out of her room to accommodate his girlfriend!
We have been warned by representatives of the police force that there have been several fraudulent attempts to steal banking information from the elderly and only recently I heard of a heart-breaking incident where someone who was thought to be trustworthy, tricked an elderly gentleman into accompanying him to the bank and signing documents which resulted in the gentleman being left penniless having lost his entire life savings.

It is also very painful to know that even in families there are uncaring relatives who will take advantage of the kindness of their elderly while withholding humane care from them.  This is particularly disappointing in Jamaica where the elderly have been pillars of the family.  Many children have been raised and nurtured by their grandparents.  These heroic elderly Jamaicans deserve honour and protection when they can no longer fend for themselves.

We want our elderly to know that Part Five of the Maintenance Act of December 7, 2005 states “Every person who is not a minor has an obligation to the extent that the person is capable of doing so, to maintain the person's parents and grandparents who are in need of such parent - maintenance by reason of age, physical or mental infirmity or disability.”        

We urge our church and community leaders to inform their members about this Act.  We are hoping that soon we will be able to make examples of those uncaring adult children who, having been nurtured and educated by dedicated parents, have left them neglected and suffering.
Seniors stage a skit showing the disrespect they suffer at various

Jamaica has introduced some helpful programmes for our elderly. We acknowledge that the introduction of JADEP, the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme, has resulted in significant savings to older persons.

We applaud the National Council for Senior Citizens spearheaded by then Chairman of NCSC, Prof. Denise Eldemire-Shearer, for their excellent National Policy for Senior Citizens and tabled in the House of Parliament in 1997.  This is a comprehensive policy, reflecting the International Principles for Older Persons.

However, we are appealing to the authorities to revisit some of the strategies stated to provide income security for senior citizens.
These include:
·       Organize and fund foundations for rendering assistance to senior citizens with no income or to those with insufficient income.
·       Ensure availability of training opportunities and technical  advice and guidance for self-employment ventures, as well   as financial assistance to senior citizens.
·       Make available tax incentives for organizations supporting income-generating activities among senior citizens.

We would like to see HEART-NTA include courses for retirees so they can seek additional income to supplement their pensions.  Indeed, the the majority of Jamaicans have no pension plan, so it is our national budget that will suffer, if seniors are not given the opportunity to earn.  We have established a Skills Bank at CCRP to assist our members in obtaining part-time employment. 

We at the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons have been holding workshops to advise our seniors on Financial Management and the importance of using trusted investment advisors.  Jamaicans of all walks of life have access to a variety of registered financial institutions and these are the organizations on which we should depend for financial guidance.

We have seen too many of our elderly lose their hard-earned savings having been coerced by representatives of unregistered financial organizations. We are requesting of our financial organisations, that even in this age of technology, you put aside certain days or times when you can give our elderly detailed information and options and patiently guide them in making investment decisions.

We at CCRP are therefore reminding those who are approaching retirement or who are retired to seek professional guidance and to engage a trustworthy group of friends and relatives with legal guidance so that you can protect yourself, as the day may come when you are unable to speak for yourselves.

As we pause to recognize and address the suffering of those elderly who have been financially abused, this day gives us hope that we are affirming our humanity and standing up for those who are at this stage of their lives, may be unable to stand up for themselves.

As we look back on the wonderful Tribute to our Olympic Superstar Usain St. Leo Bolt recently, we should note that in his autobiography, he salutes his late grandfather, a farmer who would give him weekly supplies of fresh milk, and his grandmother, who he says, never stops praying for him when he sets out from Falmouth until he calls her to tell her that he  has arrived safely in Kingston.  Such is the nurturing and love that has given us our amazing Legend of the Track!

On the shoulders of our grandparents and parents we stand, so let us do the right thing for our seniors, and ensure that they do not suffer from financial abuse or any other kind of abuse.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Award from Business & Professional Women's Club of St Andrew

I am very grateful to the St. Andrew Business & Professional Women's Club (BPW) for presenting me with the Inaugural Mavis Watts Award as Outstanding Woman of the Year for the founding of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons - #CCRP. 

Photo shows (from left) family of BPW St. Andrew Founder Ms Watts - niece Mrs Sanguinetti (seated), grandniece Ms Judith Ramgolan, President Dr Marcia Williams, yours truly, Founding Members Mrs Gloria Langrin and  Ms Marjorie Brown (Past President). 

The event held at the Alhambra Inn last Saturday sparkled with contributions from Past Presidents Emcee Mrs Monica McNeil, Dr. Williams, Ms Beryl Ennis, Mrs Langin, Dr Lilieth Nelson and Dr Mearle Barrett. 

We were entertained by the charming DiMario McDowell, and the young duo Tamara Norman and Floyd Casanova. 

Please visit our website at to learn more about the organization and how we help Jamaicans 50+ to enjoy 'Life to the Fullest'.

We are honoured that an august body as St. Andrew BPW could recognise us in such a meaningful way.  This affirmation energises our cause. Thank you BPW!

Jean Lowrie-Chin JP MA
Executive Chairman | CCRP
Phoenix Central | 2 Phoenix Ave
Kingston 10 | JAMAICA WI
P 876 665-5025

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Remembering Captain Horace Burrell

It is hard to believe that Captain Horace Burrell who transformed the sport of football in Jamaica is no longer with us. What a mark he has made: his strong leadership of the Jamaica Football Federation took our team to the World Cup in France in 1998. He also made his 'Captain's Bakery' a household word, here and in Cayman.

Captain Burrell related to me a conversation he had with a passerby as he watched the construction of his new bakery in Cayman some years ago.

"The man asked me if I knew this Horace Burrell who was making this investment. When I responded that I was Horace Burrell, he could not hide his surprise." Horace laughed heartily.

I had the pleasure of teaching his son Romario in Sunday School - what a proud father Horace was!

In our various collaborations Horace was professional and accessible. The JFF was efficiently run under his watch. His impeccable appearance and deliberate manner of speaking give him a Garvey-like aura.

Rest in Peace Captain Horace Burrell. My condolence to his family and close friends.

Here is an excerpt from a column I wrote in the Jamaica Observer in 2013:

People like Captain Horace Burrell always make a statement - what a durable gentleman! The Captain announced the firing of his overseas staff members last week, explaining his 30-day-notice contract: "No performance. No job." Say what you want to say about Horace Burrell - he took us to France and I will always give him kudos for that shining moment in Jamaica's sporting history.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Taking a break as a columnist

Dear Friends

With increased demands from the three organisations that I head and a new book in the making, I have had to resign as a columnist with the Jamaica Observer after 15 great years.  Hearty thanks to Observer colleagues, Vernon DavidsonDesmond Lloyd AllenHorace G. HelpsGloria Maragh and Miguel Thomas ... also to my eagle-eyed proofreader Hubert Chin.

I will keep blogging when I can, and sharing links on social media. As fellow columnists will tell you, a weekly column demands much time and focus. I must now shift this focus to my PROComm, PRODEV and CCRP responsibilities and a second book that has been in the making for far too long. I must also give more support to my daughter Anita F. Chin's CafĂ© Nita.

CCRP (Caribbean Community of Retired Persons Ltd) which I founded in 2010, has grown in membership and the risks to our elderly demand greater advocacy. We plan to increase CCRP’s islandwide reach, with Central and Western Chapters. 

Then there are my other commitments as board Chairman/Director of several organisations, the Catholic community and of course, my family. 

It has been wonderful to engage with readers the world over, and I hope my blog will help to preserve those precious ties. I made some inspiring friends through my column and I thank them the stalwart friends and family members for keeping me motivated. 


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Futurist Edie Weiner in Jamaica - 'Take the power’

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Futurist Edie Weiner had us in rapt attention as she explained to her audience in Kingston, Jamaica earlier this year, the impact that galloping technology will have on every aspect of our lives.  

Her company "Future Hunters" has been in the business for over forty years using well researched data to advise Fortune 500 companies on significant trends and how they should adjust their strategy to prepare for the future.

Ten years ago, she says her clients were so impressed with guidance that wondered how her predictions were so accurate.  She said that they used 30 different thought processes to arrive at their theses. Most important of all, she says, is to recognize your "educated incapacity" - knowing so much about what you already know that you are not looking outside. She said it was human nature that educated people having acquired so much knowledge, held on to it like an expensive piece of luggage but noted that while we were hanging on to that, someone is racing past us with their futuristic "backpacks".

Edie Weiner said that scientific research has shown that "there is no solid matter, everything is energy".  She explained that if there were a certain type of tiling in the Grand Central Station, it would capture the energy of commuters, enough to power the Station.  

She says that currency is undergoing radical changes.  The Economist magazine has noted now that the second most circulated currency is reward points – second only to the US dollar!  She observed that even organized crime is now using virtual currency and that more and more people are practicing barter economics.  

She turned to the hot topic of education, reminding us that the brain grows fastest before the age of three and that it is ridiculous that after being exposed to Ipads and handsets, children are then taken to schools that are still using the same system that was designed for their grandparents.  This was actually quoted at the finale of the Education Enrichment Programme which, with the support of the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information, USAID and the Digicel Foundation, covered 104 schools improving the literacy and numeracy of 43,000 primary school students.  The Enrichment Centres in 43 schools are heavy on information technology and bright visuals which are particularly attractive to boys, have turned unenthusiastic students into high achievers.  This was reinforced by Weiner as she demonstrated the difference between the way that male and female brains develop and what stimulates this development.

Edie is predicting a dramatic transformation in the delivery of education. Information technology will make education available to millions in experiential forms.  Therefore she says "critical thinking is the most important thing we can teach our young people". 

She says that this theory of repetitive practice will be overturned because of what she describes as "cranial stimulation" whereby what used to take 10,000-20,000 hours to learn may now only take a couple of hours.  She warned however that the real consequence of this is boredom – "we are giving birth to kids who are more bored than ever before".

She says that all of this new technology is creating disruption.  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 global fundamental revolution".  

She says when asked "what should children be studying now to be ensured of employment", her answer is they should become plumbers, electricians and stonemasons.  I would add 'chef' to that! 

"In future," she says, "no one will be paying for 'smart', only 'intelligent'.  This is the kind of intelligence that will enable you to figure out things that you have never seen before."  

She suggested that university students should not major in any one thing but take multi-disciplinary courses and challenge themselves to see the connection.  

She noted the presumption of making employees happy  and said there was no study that linked happiness to productivity.  She recommended three responsibilities of leaders:
1)    Make sure that everyone is treated with respect
2)    Ensure that persons are treated in a equitable manner and paid according to their skill sets and responsibilities
3)    Ensure that you remove all obstacles to their being able to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

She left us breathless with her description of what could become "4D", whereby an item could be manufactured and then after its arrival to its destination be transformed into something a thousand times larger by adding, say water.

For those of us who have been limiting the time that our children spend playing video games, Weiner noted that there is a brand new category of sports called "e-sports".  These same video games are evolving into competitive events, one of which has been held in California, attracting 35 million online viewers.  She says that universities will shortly be recruiting students who excel at e-sports for their teams.

Turning to Jamaica, Edie is optimistic. She noted that economies in many countries are being challenged by a high proportion of senior citizens while here in Jamaica, half of the population is still under 25.  She urged us to focus on two things:

1)    Focus on education
2)    Build pride and respect in your people for their country.

She says if we don't want people to litter, we should be enhancing our landscape with sculpture and murals, thereby giving our people a sense of ownership.  She says you can determine the culture by asking two questions:
1)    What are the carrots?
2)    What are the sticks?
Even as you incentivize there must be consequences for those who endanger our society.

She surprised us by indentifying two strong leaders – the revered Mother Teresa and the face of evil, Adolf Hitler and said that they had three things in common:
1)    Vision and passion
2)    The ability to articulate in words and deeds with passion
3)    Lack of embarrassment in the articulation.

Here are six suggestions that Edie left with us to make the best of our successes:
1)    Within your organization, on a regular basis, challenge your own assumptions using "figuregram" to identify more quickly your market e.g. Toys R Us discovered that appealing to grandparents was a great way to market their products.
2)    Subscribe to publications on topics in which you have no interest.  If you read about different topics on a regular basis, it will be develop the 'neuro-plasticity' of your brain
3)    Hire interns and use them wisely.  Have them shadow you and debrief them to use their 'alien eyes'.
4)    Stay current with music. (This is why I love 'Onstage','Digicel Rising Stars', 'Altogether Sing' and 'Saturday Night Live')
5)    Hire a 15-year old mentor who is not a family member and spend three hours a week with them
6)    We need to know she said, that everything is moving off the grid that we are used to – it is the end of a  particular civilization.

"Power is something you take for yourself", she advised. "Don't wait for permission – take the power and do it!"

Edie's visit to Jamaica was made possible by the Jamaica Chapter of the International Women's Forum. Top organisers were President Camille Facey, Past President Pat Ramsay, Members Lisa Soares-Lewis, Sharon Lake, Marcia Forbes and Patsy Kelly. 

© Jean Lowrie-Chin

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Zoleka Mandela’s impassioned plea

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

#SlowDown!! After signing #slowdown pledge for Jamaica, Prime Minister Andrew Holness with Zoleka Mandela, granddaughter of former South African leader, Nelson Mandela and Ambassador for the Global Initiative for Child Health & Mobility.  They are flanked by (from left Saul Billingsley, FIA Foundation Executive Director; Earl Jarrett, Managing Director, Jamaica National Group; Paula Fletcher, Executive Director, National Road Safety Council (NRSC); Yohan Blake, Olympian; Dr Lucien Jones, Vice-Chairman, NRSC; Jean Todt, United Nations Special Envoy for road safety and Mark Connolly, UNICEF Jamaica representative.

As we heard the crack in Zoleka Mandela’s voice, describing her pain and the pain of other parents who have lost their children in road crashes, we pondered on the ‘why’ around the dangerous, careless behaviour on our roads.  We were gathered at the Office of the Prime Minister on May 10 for the observation of the UN Global Road Safety Week (GRSW), as Jamaica’s Chair for the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) is always the sitting Prime Minister. 

The NRSC was formed 24 years ago, when the late Orthopedic Surgeon Professor John Golding, became so distressed with the mounting deaths and serious injuries from road crashes that he appealed to then Prime Minister Michael Manley to start the organisation, comprised of stakeholders in road traffic oversight.  The NRSC formed an alliance with the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile – translated International Federation for Motor Vehicles) currently led by racing superstar Jean Todt.


The national convener Dr Lucien Jones has brought the passion of his Christian ministry to bear on his work with the NRSC; this combined with the business wizardry of Earl Jarrett resulted in the arrival on our shores of Ms Mandela and Mr Todt. They joined with Prime Minister Andrew Holness, UNICEF Jamaica Country Representative Mark Connolly and Road Safety Ambassador Yohan Blake in a special appeal to stop the madness on Jamaica’s roads, resulting in 115 deaths and many more seriously injured.


 “Worldwide, more young people are killed on the roads than from any other cause of death. Each day, 3000 children are killed or injured on the world’s roads,” said the regal Ms Mandela.
Zoleka Mandela with South Africa
 Charge d’Affaires for Jamaica, Philip Riley
“The scale of this crisis is bad enough. But what is perhaps even more shocking is how little is being done to prevent it. We have the solutions, but too often they are not being put in place.  The measures we need to save lives are simple: safe crossings for kids going to school; sidewalks to separate pedestrians and the vulnerable from vehicles; enforcement against drink driving; and action on speeding.

“Action on speed is the focus of this Fourth UN Global Road Safety Week and it is a great example of exactly what needs to be done. With effective policing and measures such as road humps and traffic calming we could save hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide each year.

“We’re facing a man-made epidemic and we have the vaccine – we’re just not using it. Can you imagine having a vaccine for a killer disease and not using it? Imagine leaving children to face illness or death and not acting. Yet this is really, what we are doing. In failing to use the low-speed vaccine around our schools, we are failing our children. It is their lives at stake.

“I’ve seen it in my own country. In my work with the Global Initiative for Child Health and Mobility we launched a project in one of South Africa’s poorest communities – Khayelitsha in Western Cape.”
Her words are familiar to our local situation: “In Khayelitsha you see the kids by the road each morning. Little ones, five and six year olds, with their brothers and sisters. Terrified to cross the road as the traffic bears down on them at 80 km/h.

“Early in the morning, you see them, trying to cross in the dark, taking their lives into their own hands. You don’t need to search too hard for what needs to be done. The answer is quite simple. Our children, our little ones, hundreds of them walking to school each day, should not face traffic at more than 30 km/h.”

“Faster than 30 is a death sentence,” she emphasised. “For the sake of our children, low speeds are non-negotiable. It’s not just my own country, the story I witnessed in Khayelitsha is one repeated each day around the world. Millions of children are facing this horror every single day and we are failing to protect them.”

Ms Mandela’s beautiful 13-year-old daughter Zenani Mandela was killed by a drunk driver in June 2010, and so she commented, “When the policies are not in place, it’s our families and our children that suffer.”

She evoked the courage of her grandfather: “I take inspiration in the life of my grandfather, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. We would all do well to listen to his words. We must not despair. We must not accept defeat. We must not forget that it is in our power to change the world”

In response, our Prime Minister Andrew Holness noted, “There is no amount of enforcement that is going to be as effective as behaviour change,” and urged the more frequent use of the Agent Sasco and Tessanne Chin road safety music video. He pledged, “We are committed to using all the utilities at our disposal to reduce road crashes by 50 percent by 2020.” He has been an engaged Chairman, and so we are optimistic.  Let’s do it – everyone can take the pledge to #slowdown and #savelives.  

Excerpt from Observer column published 15 May 2017 

Sunday, May 21, 2017


From Left to Right- Leroy and Doreen Brown, Education Grant Recipient Chester Jones of CARIMAC, PAJ President Dionne Jackson Miller

May 21, 2017: The Press Association of Jamaica expresses sincere regret at the sudden death of media veteran Doreen Brown.

"The PAJ honoured Doreen during our 2016 Journalism Week activities," says PAJ President Dionne Jackson Miller.

"We are so happy now that we were able to do so while she was still with us."

Doreen began her career at the Gleaner, from where she moved on to the Jamaica Information Service, where she worked, first as a press officer, and  then as a  Senior Information Officer in charge of the Press Department, before being promoted to to lead the Radio Department.

She was responsible for producing the popular radio dramas, Life in Hopeful Village, Way of the World, and the historical documentary Journeys. Doreen also wrote and produced other dramatic presentations, such as On The Right Track and Ma B's Family.

She worked at the Jamaican Consulate in New York as an Information Attaché, following which she returned to Jamaica to head up the JIS Television Department.

Doreen's work was recognized with a Seprod Award in 1977, in the category, Public Service (Radio) for her documentary on emancipation and apartheid,  and again in 1979, for her work on another documentary titled The Life and Times of Willie Henry, a   well-known figure in agriculture in Jamaica.

Doreen and her husband, Leroy, generously donated an Education Grant to a deserving university student, as part of a programme initiated by the PAJ during National Journalism Week 2016.

 "We remember with gratitude her work in media, and recall with fondness her generosity of spirit and unflagging interest in the affairs of the nation. We commiserate with her husband and constant companion Leroy, and the rest of Doreen's family and friends," says Jackson Miller.


Dionne Jackson-Miller, President, PAJ

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