Friday, September 25, 2009

Campion College pays tribute to 'Butch' Stewart's philanthropy -

By Al Edwards

Friday, September 25, 2009

On Wednesday night, the chairman of Campion College's Vision 20/20 Plan, Andrew Mahfood, paid tribute to Charmain of the Sandals Group, the Jamaica Observer and Appliance Traders Limited (ATL), Gordon 'Butch' Stewart's philanthropic deeds over the years.

One of the island's top high schools, Campion College has outlined a plan to upgrade its infrastructure, add a new science laboratory, a new auditorium, a new library and new classrooms over the next ten years.

Addressing an audience of around 250 people, including past alumni Peter Bunting and Christopher Berry, at the esteemed academy, Mahfood said: "Tonight I do not want to take up too much time reviewing his business accomplishments. I want to speak more about the philanthropic side of 'Butch' and what Jamaica and its people mean to him." Mahfood pointed to the business mogul's early days when he would help the fisherman at Whitehouse Fish Fry in Montego Bay.

He recalled the Sandals boss renowned Butch Stewart Initiative, back in 1993, when his group of companies sold foreign exchange at below market rates every week for months, in an effort to stabalise the local dollar and keep inflation down.

"I want to speak about a man who was quoted as saying, after his group returned Air Jamaica to the Government, " If I were called upon again, I would assist the airline. It is Jamaica's and there is nothing I wouldn't do for my country."

Stewart attended Campion College and so did his son, Sandals CEO, Adam Stewart. Campion has announced plans to construct a new library, which is expected to come in at a cost of US$700,000. It will be named after the chairman of the Jamaica Observer's deceased son Jonathan Stewart, who also attended Campion College.

The Stewart family will be putting up US$350,000, half the total cost of the new library, with the remainder expected to come from the school's alumni.

'Butch' Stewart continues to give active support to over 100 projects and to many other organisations throughout Jamaica. His philanthropic efforts recall those noble efforts by some of the United States'great families of business the Carnegies, the Melons and the Rockefellers.

Over the last three years, Sandals has given away over US$11 million in charitable donations throughout the Caribbean. Early this year, the Sandals Foundation was launched and it has already raised just under US$1 million in charitable contributions. The Sandals Foundation is headed by Heidi Clarke, and focuses on three main areas: education, the environment and local communities.

'Butch' Stewart's largesse has been recognised through several awards. In 1992 he received the Martin Luther King Humanitarian award. He has been designated as a Paul Harris Fellow (Rotary International's highest award) and he has received two national awards, namely the Order of Jamaica and Commander of the Order of Distinction.

Speaking with Caribbean Business Report last night, Mahfood said: "I'd like to thank 'Butch' Stewart and his family for the graciousness they have shown.

'Butch' Stewart sees the needs of the country and always responds. He was not hesitant in coming forward in helping Campion College. He is an amazing Jamaican.

I sincerely hope that our alumni, who number some of the country's leading business personalities, will follow Butch Stewart's lead and come to the aid of Campion College."

Monday, September 21, 2009 Trevor Rhone, a Writer of 'The Harder They Come,' Dies at 69

Our own Trevor Rhone's obituary in the New York Times

MOVIES   | September 21, 2009
Trevor Rhone, a Writer of 'The Harder They Come,' Dies at 69
Mr. Rhone was an award-winning Jamaican playwright, director and actor who brought his island's culture to the world as a writer of the film "The Harder They Come."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Genesis – a space to grow

David Hall, Genesis volunteer discusses plans with Board Chairman Donna Lowe.

Pauline Beaumont (right) meets with her caring Genesis team as they prepare for the new school year.

Jamaica Observer | MON 14 Sep 09 | by Jean Lowrie-Chin

I wondered why David Hall sounded so out of breath when he invited us to visit the new home of the Genesis Academy. Once we got there, we saw why. In eight short months, he and the dedicated school board had transformed a ramshackle building on a scrubby location at 38 South Camp Road, to a beautiful school, retrofitted to serve the needs of its intellectually challenged students, some of whom are in wheelchairs.

So last Monday on back-to-school day, 50 children who could not be accommodated in our regular school system were able to don their uniforms and head to classes. “You cannot imagine how much dignity a child feels when he knows he also has a school, a space to grow in,” says Maureen Webber whose 17-year-old son Brian attends the school.

Genesis Academy has been a blessing for Maureen who herself has been a tireless campaigner for children with disabilities. “My son is at the level of a two-year-old and is not yet potty-trained, so without a school like this, he would be locked up at home,” she says. “This is why I have been spending my birthdays each year, walking to raise funds so that other parents who cannot afford it, may get scholarships for their children.”

Webber who is the owner of Development Options, says her staff members have also been contributing to the school. “We realise that without this school, I would not be able to run a business!” says Maureen.

The Chairman of the Genesis Board, Donna Lowe has seen her son Jonathan grow and learn at the school to the point where he became Head boy and was able to graduate last year. She remembers when the founder of the school Pauline Beaumont approached her to say she would be starting a school for the intellectually challenged because she was not satisfied with the progress of her daughter at another school with a limited programme.

“Six years ago, my son was among the first five children attending school in Pauline’s living room,” she remembers. “I immediately saw an improvement in his self-confidence. Pauline taught the children math, language, comprehension and important life skills. They would prepare lunch in her kitchen and then eat together.”

Now Donna’s son has been able to obtain a drivers’ license after his second attempt, and is working at Suzie’s Bakery. “Our approach at the school is that each child is very different and when they reach the age of 16, they need to be part of the discussion on their future. It was then that my son expressed his love for cooking and baking, and I was able to get lessons for him.”

Now at the new location, home economics will be offered as a well equipped kitchen is being put in place. “When we decided last year that we would have to find a bigger location, we hardly knew where to start,” says Donna. “Thank God David Hall came on the scene as we would have had no school this September to accommodate the kids. He came here with the winner of a Fame & Fortune Game Show, said he wanted to help and attached himself to us!”

Donna describes the effort that went into obtaining the lease, gutting the old building, renovating and expanding it. “We have weekly meetings and David has driven the process. We are always wondering how this very busy man finds the time to do so much for us as well as donate to the project. He lives and breathes Genesis.”

Irish-Jamaican (he has his Jamaican citizenship) David Hall explains that his Godchild has Down syndrome so he was drawn to Genesis. Then earlier this year the first child of his sister in Ireland was also born with the syndrome. “That made me all the more committed,” he says.

The issue now is sustainability as the capacity for the school is 80 and there are now only 50 on the roll. The school is seeking help with funding for scholarships since there are many families who would dearly want to place their challenged children at Genesis.

“Even if companies don’t have the funds to donate, there are many ways they can help,” says David. “They could hire our graduates, they could donate services, for example deliveries, or in-kind items.” He disclosed that the school is getting the assistance of Information Minister Daryl Vaz in having some land cleared so they can begin a vegetable garden. “We want the school to become self-sufficient,” he says, “and this is a great way for the students to learn an important skill.”

Genesis is aptly named. My friend Faith Linton says the biblical book of Genesis reminds us, "We are God's masterpieces, made in His image and likeness. We are fit to be loved and to show God's character in our lives." How does Brian, with the mind of a two-year-old, stop throwing tantrums and begin to learn basic life skills, like feeding himself? Through the relentless search of his loving mother for the best solution for her child’s future, through the care of nurse’s aide Aunt Sally who must help him to the bathroom, and through the clean, cheerful surroundings of Genesis, conceived by Pauline Beaumont, a mother who created a school so that her child could have a better life.

David Hall says these ladies and chairman Donna Lowe inspire him to keep working at the school, as there is still much to be done. The passion to give the children the chance at being the best they can be, fires up these volunteers. To see the joy on their faces as they show the media through the building, one understands how important it is to discover in ourselves this heart for giving, the manifestation of the divine in all of us. From their benevolence comes a school that will empower the weak and preserve the livelihood of many parents.

It is difficult to believe that this school exists in the same country as the unspeakable Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre. The findings of the enquiry into the fire that took six young lives is a judgment not only on staff and security, but also on a society that could have spawned such hard hearts. Genesis gives us hope that eventually, good can overcome evil if ordinary Jamaicans decide to show the courage of their avowed faith.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rest in Peace John Terry

To the world, he was the British Consul and excellent resort manager. To his friends, John Terry was a sparkle in our lives. As we tried to absorb the news of his tragic death, we harked back to the good times and his hilarious jokes. We were all young and happy together - whenever he came in to Kingston, he would stay with our friend the late Susan Campbell who was like a sister to him. We would hang out together and laugh sometimes till the tears rolled down our cheeks. Now we have tears of sadness for a kind man who truly loved Jamaica. His warm spirit will never fade - we'll remember him not for the sad way he died, but for the great way he lived.

Monday, September 7, 2009

PM - 'A' for audacity

Observer Column | JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN | Monday, September 07, 2009

Two years after their victory at the polls, the honeymoon of the Bruce Golding-led JLP administration is but a faint memory. But we shouldn't be surprised - even the hugely popular Barack Obama is down in the polls after a mere eight months in power. Such is the reward of ascending to power in a world wracked by financial crises.Both leaders have performed rescues of one sort or the other, and it is ironic that what Bruce Golding was able to accomplish virtually overnight has dragged Barack Obama and his colleagues from town hall to town hall, facing some of the most cynical, virulent tirades.

My friend George Graham who now lives in Florida spares a good word for Golding's effort: "As Lee Ann Womack put it: 'And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance. I hope you dance.'

And little Jamaica has joined the dance, while mighty America sits timidly on the sidelines pondering the risks involved. What on earth am I talking about? Why, health care, of course.

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding is forging ahead with plans to abolish hospital user fees, despite a torrent of criticism and the head-scratching conundrum of paying for the plan... The US is imagining the worst, too scared to take a chance, defeated before the game has even started." (

But there are many more rivers that the Golding administration must cross: budget cuts, salary increases and unrelenting crime. I think Mr Golding and Minister Shaw should have a huddle with Dr Henley Morgan and Dr Leahcim Semaj.

These visionaries have come up with innovative solutions for redeployment of labour and empowerment of the workforce. They can explain to unions that redundancies may actually open a better way of life for workers if training and counselling are a part of the separation plan. They will reveal opportunities that are knocking, if only we would listen.

Big government for a small country can actually rob people of their dignity, as they trip over each other, 10 doing the job of one. Large agencies incur unnecessary costs and drain productivity with unwieldy human resource issues. I heard a statistic the other day that gave me pause: the average population of a political constituency in India is 1.3 million in contrast to the electorate quota of 25,000 per constituency for Jamaica. Since there are constitutional guidelines for this, as explained by ECJ Chairman Professor Errol Miller, let us accept this reality and lean more heavily on our members of parliament to discharge their duties as representatives of the people. The technology exists to make the necessary appeals, keep track of projects, and ensure accountability.

To keep our public service lean and efficient, let us merge agencies with the parent ministries wherever possible. These times demand from us a willingness to break from the status quo and to use the brilliant new tools that promote efficiency and probity.

If we look beyond our tiny fiefdoms, we will see a nation brimming with opportunities. We will see that we are actually making our future less secure by this stubborn adherence to our tiny piece of dried-up turf when there are indeed greener pastures for us. We should look to those leaders who continue to strive for better, compete vigorously and see opportunities in every crisis. Henley "The Watchman" Morgan says if we want to discover the gold mine, we should have a "goal mind". That's how our athletes got their gold - now we need to work for ours.

I continue to bat for our nurses, whose requests are modest and whose patience has been virtually endless. However, I have to join the appeal of the Ministry of Education for our teachers to agree to the proposed schedule for the payment of retroactive salary increases. We know they are deserving, but at least they are far ahead of the nurses in terms of compensation.
(Click on title for full column)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lorna Goodison appointed collegiate professor at University of Michigan

I am so proud of my friend Lorna!

Sunday Gleaner | 6 Sept 09

Internationally acclaimed Jamaican literary artist/poet/ novelist, Lorna Goodison has been named Lemuel A Johnson collegiate professor of literature and Afro-American and African studies at the University of Michigan.

A release from the University of Michigan reads as follows:

With the endorsement of executive committee of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, we are pleased to recommend the appointment of Lorna Goodison as the Lemuel A. Johnson collegiate professor of English and Afro-American and African studies, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, for a five-year renewable term, effective September 1, 2009 through August 31, 2014.

Most celebrated voice

Professor Goodison has emerged as the most celebrated voice among her generation of West Indian poets with nine books of poetry, two works of fiction and a memoir. Her work can be situated within the context of the global developments in English language poetry over the last half-century, wherein the focus of creative energy has expanded from the former colonial centre to reside in what were once its colonial outposts. Her poems deal with post-colonial and feminist issues while evoking events of experiences through vivid imagery and the speech rhythms of her native Jamaican English.

Professor Goodison's individual poems and short stories have appeared in a broad range of literary journals, and her literary status has been attested to by her inclusion in The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry (2003), the most prestigious canonising collection in the field, as well as The Longman Anthology of British Literature (2006) and The Longman Anthology of Poetry (2007). Her most recent book, From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People, which won the 2008 British Columbia award for Canadian non-fiction, Canada's largest non-fiction prize. She has also received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (1986), the Gold Musgrave Medal (for poetry) from the Institute of Jamaica (1999) and Michigan's Henry Russet award for exceptional creative work (2004), among others. She is frequently invited to appear at major international literary festivals and events from England to Europe to South Africa.

(click on title for full report)

Dudley Ball - real 'stain' power!

by Robert Lalah, Assistant Editor - Features | Sunday Gleaner

As he reaches into a wooden cupboard inside his small workshop/kitchen, it's hard not to marvel at the man's dexterity. He's 83 after all, yet moves with the agility of an 18-year-old. He seems to just keep going (all day long), and exhibits signs that he's unaware of his own age.

But that's not what makes Dudley Ball stand out. The retiree is one of only a handful of locals who are experts in the art of staining glass. For those not hip to the staining scene, it's a delicate art that involves cutting different kinds of glass in various colours and fusing them all together into beautiful patterns. The best known examples of these creations are the stained glass windows at many churches across the country.

It was 18 years ago that Ball retired from years of travelling the world as a regional representative of a pharmaceutical company. He suddenly found himself with a whole lot of time on his hands and an urge to finally take seriously a hobby he has had since he was a teenager.

"I've always been somewhat artistic, but it wasn't something I was able to spend much time on. It was always in the back of my mind though," he said, wiping dust from a lamp shade he created some years ago.

Ball was standing inside his kitchen, which doubles as his workshop at his home in New Kingston. His eyes focused on his latest project, a window for a local church, as jazz musician Duke Ellington's Take it Easy blared through speakers all over the house. "The music helps me work," he said, going on to explain how he chooses the glass he works with.

"You have all different kinds. The cost will range according to the quality. For friends, I try to use the best," he said, smiling.

Ball has made close to 100 shades since he retired, each one taking a few weeks to complete. Really detailed, complex designs will take much longer.

"But, hey, I have time," he laughed.

(click on title for full story)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Brilliant 3 in Brussels!

click on title above for BBC report

Jamaica's sprint phenomenon Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the 200-metre event at the Golden League Memorial Van Damme athletics meeting here yesterday. (Photo: AP)

Brigitte Foster-Hylton (left) of Jamaica wins the 100 metres hurdles at the Golden League Memorial Van Damme athletics meeting here yesterday. (Photo: AP)

Powell (left) made an explosive start to beat Gay (right)

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Big Man again!!!

Shadow-boxing before the start, hamming it up and then coasting on a wet track to a Meet record for the 200m- 19.57 - the quintessential Usain Bolt thrills the crowd in Brussels!
'We love Bolt!' says a huge banner bearing his figure in 'to the World' pose!

Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Safa is back!!

9.9 to beat Gay in Brussels!!
Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Isiah Parnell - New Chargé d’Affaires assumes post at U.S. Embassy

Kingston, Jamaica - September 02, 2009: The Embassy of the United States of America in Kingston announces the arrival of Isiah Parnell as its new Chargé d’Affaires. He replaced James Heg, who departed Kingston in June 2009.

Mr. Parnell is a career Foreign Service Officer who joined the U.S. Department of State in August 1984. He is a member of the Senior Foreign Service and holds the rank of Minister Counselor.

He has served in eight overseas posts in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and Africa including in Accra, Ghana; Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; Panama City, Panama and Asuncion, Paraguay. His most recent post was in Mexico City, where he was the Minister Counselor of Management Affairs.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, double-majoring in Government and Economics. He received a Master of Arts degree in Government from the same institution. In addition, he holds a Master of Arts degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Mr. Parnell served in the United States Army from 1981-1984. He is married and has four children.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Megabucks for Bolt

Bolt... has been labelled the greatest sprinter of all time

...J'can star set to rake in US$500,000 for South Korea race


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

MONTE-CARLO, Monaco (CMC) - Jamaica's phenomenal World and Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt is set to enjoy a whopping US$500,000 payday for competing in the 100 metres in South Korea later this month.

Bolt is expected to tackle the shorter sprint on September 25 at the Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting.

Moon Dong-hoo, vice-president of the organising committee for the 2011 Daegu IAAF World Championships in Athletics, said Bolt confirmed that he will race in Daegu and the details are now being worked out for his 100-metre appearance.

In Berlin, Bolt shattered his own world record by 0.11 seconds with a time of 9.58 seconds.

The Daegu organising committee did not disclose his payment, but media reports suggest Bolt is likely to receive US$500,000 for the race.

The Daegu Meeting is expected to attract 200 athletes from 30 nations competing in 16 track and field events.
Meanwhile, Bolt has confirmed that he will also be racing at the IAAF World Athletics Final in Greece this month.

Bolt, who brilliantly won the sprint double - both in world record times - at the IAAF World Championship in Germany last month, is set to run the 200 metres at the September 12-13 World of Athletics Final in Thessaloniki.

Organisers of the IAAF World Athletics Final confirmed Monday that the sprint giant will race in the half-lap sprint on the second day of the final on Sunday, September 13.

Bolt has contested only three 200-metre events so far this year including his Berlin World Championship run last month in an astounding 19.19 seconds, erasing his own world mark of 19.30 he posted in his Olympic victory in Beijing a year earlier.

Bolt last competed in the World Athletics Final in 2006 when he came third in 20.10 seconds in Stuttgart, Germany.

Already being labelled the greatest sprinter of all time, the 23-year-old Bolt is expected to compete in Shanghai after the World Athletics Final before travelling to Daegu.

In the meantime, the projected clash between Bolt and the American Tyson Gay at the Brussels Golden League Meeting on Friday will no longer happen.

Bolt has decided to run the 200 metres and Gay is booked for the 100 metres at the last Golden League meet of the season.