Saturday, May 31, 2014

Talent behind bars

We visited the Horizon Park Remand Centre on Wednesday to view an array of items created by prison inmates throughout Jamaica.  Here are the excellent products and art, as Commissioner Jevene Bent emphasizes rehabilitation and re-integration in her programmes for our correctional services. Kudos also to Deputy Commissioner of Custodial Services Joyce Stone and Asst Superintendent L. Ferrigon.  When you observe the discipline and care of these Jamaicans, it is a call to never give up on anyone, especially those who have paid their debt to society and deserve a second chance. 
Commissioner of Corrections Jevene Bent

The Convent of Mercy 'Alpha' 120th Anniversary Palm

On Labour Day, Alpha Alumnae President Margaret Little-Wilson, Toronto Chapter Executive Member Patricia Campbell and CMA Spiritual advisor Velia Espeut were joined by students and well-wishers for the planting of the CMA 120th Anniversary Palm. 
CMA Alumnae President Margaret Little-Wilson and Toronto Chapter Executive Patricia Campbell at tree planting.

Spiritual Advisor Velia Espeut masters the shovel!
Yours truly with Pat and Margaret.

Friday, May 30, 2014

EU is NOT partner in breakwater project

Kingston, May 30, 2014

Note of Clarification on reported involvement of the EU with the Negril Breakwater Project:
The EU wishes to make a clarification on an article printed in the Jamaica Observer on May 28th, 2014 "Negril stakeholders steadfast in fight against breakwater project" which incorrectly referred to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), as "collaborating with the Planning Institute of Jamaica on the GOJ/EU Adaptation Fund project" on the Negril Breakwater Project. The EU is not a partner on the project.

The Breakwater is part of the 'Enhancing the Resilience of the Agriculture Sector and Coastal Areas to Protect Livelihoods and Improve Food Security' programme, which is financed from the Adaptation Fund under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is implemented by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
The EU has previously supported the Negril area through the "Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Programme" financed from the Global Climate Change Alliance amongst others through:
 Sea grass replanting
 Artificial reef
 Pilot project for beach stabilisation
 Livelihood alternatives

These projects worked to improve coastal resilience and promote environmental responsibility.

We anticipate your assistance in making this clarification public.

Contact- Andrew Raymore
Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas and the Cayman IslandsTel: 1 876 924 6333

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Slate: Maya Angelou on What Happens When Great Souls Die
  Excerpt from Slate report by Katy Waldman ....
Photo by TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images - from Slate

The stanza below comes from “When Great Trees Fall,” the last poem in Angelou’s fifth volume of poetry, I Shall Not Be Moved. It captures her grace and gentleness, as well as that calm stretching action she urges upon us: Fill the spaces and move beyond them. Be and be better. Angelou has filled the spaces and passed through one more limit. We’re all the better for it.
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly.  Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed.  They existed.
We can be.  Be and be
better.  For they existed.

Katy Waldman is a Slate assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Let's hold ourselves to a higher mark

by Jean Lowrie-Chin
National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey
These are the days that send us back to the writings of our first National Hero, that colossus of dignity and self-determination, Marcus Mosiah Garvey. The Jamaican legend pulled no punches as he instructed his followers about education, employment and ambition. He warned them about preserving their respect and not becoming ‘a bum or hobo race’.
Garvey must be weeping to see the statistics of electricity theft in the prize constituencies of long-standing leaders – as high as 89 percent of users!  I was surprised at the accusation of elitism in the JPS action from a politician I like – Damion Crawford – but relieved at the chorus of subsequent declarations that “we do not condone stealing”.  Out of this strong action by the JPS, finally a committee including government officials has been formed, to take a serious look at this ugly practice.
Electricity theft has caused the death of many, including the most recent incident last Wednesday when an innocent man who went crab-hunting with friends in Hanover, got tangled in uninsulated wires thrown up to steal electricity. I got very worried when I heard words like classist and racist being used to describe the JPS’ action. Seriously, if you had a store in a community from which 89 percent of the goods was stolen, wouldn’t you lock it down? 
Racist scammers
The racist argument is what those heartless scammers are using, as they fleece American retirees of their hard-earned savings. What impression of Americans do these scammers have? Do they know how hard these folks work for their money? Whenever I am in US stores and cashiers see from my ID where I live, many sigh and say they are saving so that one day they can make that long dreamed trip to Jamaica. These are humble, diligent folks, showing up for work through rain or snow. How will we keep their love for Jamaica, if they hear that scamming is now being viewed by some as an acceptable career? A report on the death of a scammer quoted his mourning mother as saying he was “honest and hardworking”. When asked what he did for a living she said he was a scammer!
Our leaders must ask themselves how electricity theft and scamming became viewed by poorer folks as being acceptable. When people become desperate, they have to rationalize their anti-social behaviour. They become desperate when they are crammed into yards where entrance is only allowed by a resident thug. They lose their dignity when they are packed like sardines into buses during elections, and bullied into voting for the garrison party. 
Valley of the shadow of threats
Their every move is watched and they live in the valley of the shadow of threats. Robbed of their selfhood they become T-shirted billboards for their power-hungry representatives. They are everything Marcus Garvey did not want them to be – dumbed down into perpetual poverty.
But it is not too late for our politicians to admit their wrongs, open up their constituencies and allow people to regain their humanity. Political dunceness makes colours like orange and green unwearable in certain parts of Jamaica. We are hoping that people Marlene Malahoo Forte, Paula Kerr-Jarrett, Kamina Johnson Smith, Julian Robinson, Dr Dayton Campbell and Norman Grant and will help us to pave the way for a more intelligent type of politics in our country. So instead of terrorizing people, we will have politicians who help them to actualize their dreams. 
Pray for Absolution!
Politicians who have committed atrocities should now be praying for absolution. We know who you are – and you belong to both major political parties. You have sinned against your people and your country – until it had to take the IMF to curb your wasteful ways, and the JPS to explain to you that stealing electricity is just plain thievery.
 Our biggest energy crisis
The biggest energy crisis in this country is the lassitude of a nation that has not been nurtured to stand and deliver to her full potential. As the indiscipline spilled over on the football field in Arnett Gardens last Monday, the politicians were hustled away by their security detail, leaving their hapless followers to fight each other. 
We know our politicians know better, so we are asking them to stop playing these dangerous games with our people. Try integrity and productivity – hold yourselves to a higher mark, so that the sacrifices of Garvey and all our other National Heroes will not be in vain.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

ACM concerned about threat to Mark Bassant

May 22, 2014 : The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) is extremely concerned about a reported threat on the life of Trinidadian multi-media investigative journalist, Mark Bassant of the CCN Media Group.

The fact that Mr Bassant has been forced to seek protective refuge at an undisclosed location underscores the seriousness with which both his media institution and state security forces are treating the matter.

We join with the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago in calling for urgent action to get to the bottom of this situation.

Our international partners are similarly concerned and we all look forward to a thorough and expeditious investigation and the prosecution of anyone found to be behind this threat.

Association of Caribbean Media Workers

Via the Press Assn of Jamaica
"A Free Press, Oxygen of Democracy"

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Patsy Lee, Hermine Metcalfe - Alpha Women of Excellence

Patsy Yee Lee and Hermine Lee Hing Metcalfe are the 2014 Alpha Academy Alumnae Women of Excellence.  They will be honoured at a Banquet next Friday 30 May at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. They have lived the Alpha Academy motto- 'Ad Verum et Bonum' - 'To The Good and True'.
Congratulations my inspiring friends!

True blue girl - Patricia Lee

Published: Monday | May 19, 2014 | Flair Magazine – The Gleaner
Patricia Lee
Patricia Lee
 Cathy Risden, Lifestyle Intern
Patricia Marlene Lee is a true blue Alpha girl. She attended Alpha Infant and Junior School before Alpha Academy and Alpha Commercial College. The co-founder of the Florida Chapter of Alpha Alumnae Association, on May 30, she will be awarded for her years of service as a recipient of the association's 2014 Woman of Excellence award.
An astute businesswoman, after making her mark in the banking industry in the 1980s, Lee migrated to Florida with her family where she now pursues another passion and runs a very successful horticulture business, growing and distributing foliage and plants throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean since 1987.
Lee is always eager to help others, getting involved in her church and community services, including feeding the homeless in the vicinity of her business operation in Florida. She has never forgotten the land of her birth, doing all she can to assist her alma mater, basic schools, HIV health centres and other charitable projects in Jamaica, all through the alumni chapter in Florida.
Lee told Flair that to get an award for something that she loves and enjoys doing is a very humbling experience, and she is who she is today because Alpha transformed her life. She told Flair the school was her refuge when her parents were having financial constraints and hardships. She revealed that even the wife of the school's caretaker stepped in to help, making her uniform at no cost. She even got her textbooks for free.
Alpha has taught her that there is hope in the midst of adversity, and for that she is really blessed. "I do as much as I can because I want to see Alpha at the top and for that 'mi buss mi shut' to get the job done."
But despite her situation back then, she treasures the fond memories of the time spent with her girlfriends and the little pranks they played. Today, her best and closest friends are from Alpha. Lee vividly remembers learning about Jesus Christ, through which her hope and faith was born. She received so much love and compassion from teachers and auxiliary staff, and the most important life lessons - compassion and self-worth. "I am my brother's keeper," she said humbly, adding "I was taught to give."
Home Sweet Home
While she has lived abroad for many decades, she is constantly thinking of her homeland and coming back home. "I would really love to come back to Jamaica to live; it's my home, and there are some lovely people and places. But for many of us Jamaicans living abroad, our only deterrent is crime and violence." Nonetheless, being in Florida has opened many doors and paved the way for her to be able to contribute on a larger scale.
But she believes in our future and notes that our children should be the priority of every individual, organisations and government." Let us look after our children first, they are our prime investment and our future. When we are long gone, don't you want them to share a better world? Why not take care of our children as well as others?"

Woman of Excellence Award: Hermine Metcalfe

Published: Monday | May 19, 2014 | Flair Magazine – The Gleaner
Hermine Metcalfe
Hermine Metcalfe
Krysta Anderson, Lifestyle Reporter
The alma mater of Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) celebrates more than a century of dedicated service to Jamaica, making this year's annual Alpha Academy Alumnae Association Woman of Excellence Award even more exceptional.
This year, the Flair features the two 2014 Woman of Excellence Award recipients, Hermine Metcalfe, and Patricia Lee.
Metcalfe is being honoured by her alma mater for her outstanding contribution to the pharmaceutical industry.
Prior to pursuing pharmaceutical studies, Metcalfe weighed her options between medicine, nursing, medical technology and computer programming. At one time, she even considered joining the Sisters of Mercy.
She took a walk down memory lane with Flair: "I joined with religious affiliated groups like Sodality and McCauley Circle. I also joined the Glee Club, I was vice-captain of my house and deputy head girl. I was a quiet, well-behaved student and did not get into trouble with staff or students. I made and developed some good and lasting friendships as well."
It got even better at university, which was where she gained a world of experience. "University overseas was a good experience. I went on a government scholarship to Brighton Polytechnic, in Sussex, England. I got very good grades in spite of my involvement in the Sussex African Students' Association. This was during the apartheid era, and the group was very militant. I was the publicity secretary. However, I did not allow this to interfere with my studies. It took planning."
Metcalfe learnt from an early age how to deal with challenges, so when she encountered the obstacles within various areas of the pharmaceutical industry, she tackled them head-on. "For example, while we are aware of the need for strong regulations to curb illegal importation of medication, systems need to be improved and implemented by Government to facilitate smoother and more efficient processes for acquisition of critical and emergency items to save lives. I recall that during the last polio epidemic in Jamaica, I procured a ventilator machine for use at the Mona Rehabilitation Centre. However, through lack of experience and in the rush, I omitted certain processes, and the equipment was delayed for a few days at the airport."
unscrupulous persons
She said, too, that there are unscrupulous persons who have attempted to obtain drugs illegally using forged prescriptions. "Pharmacists have to be particularly vigilant so as not to fill these." There has also been the challenge of illegible handwriting of some doctors, which causes delays for patients as time has to be spent in trying to locate the doctor. She notes that the stakeholders are currently in diaglogue to remedy the latter.
When she found out she was awarded the Alpha Academy Women of Excellence award, she was, to say the least, elated. "I was surprised, delighted and felt humbled at the same time. I had never at any time thought that what I was doing was anything other than what I ought to be doing. The award means a lot to me. To be honoured for doing what I consider my duty is a great privilege and I am truly grateful for the guidance I had from parents and teachers," she told Flair.
In her journey to success, she shows sincere appreciation to her parents, who instilled the importance of expressing gratitude, good manners, honesty, integrity, caring for others and humility. There were also the priests and nuns with whom she interacted and who influenced her positively, namely Sister Mary Bernadette, who inspired her to broaden her horizon and achieve her maximum potential.
motivating family
Behind her excellent pharmaceutical career, too, is an encouraging and motivating family. Balancing work with family life, she declared, takes planning and at times certain leisure activities have to be sacrificed. But she told Flair she has managed, through the grace of God and the support and understanding of her husband and children.
And through it all she is always trying to give back by volunteering and learning new skills which can be passed on to others, "I was recently certified in HIV counseling and testing." She is also learning to effectively use social media, with plans to enrol in a course in website design in the near future.
The nature of her job requires a lot of travelling and it is during these times that she gets to relax. Her sweet escapes from the demands of her job are travelling with her family, going to the cinema, watching horse racing and getting in some quality time with her husband outside of Kingston.
She ensures she wakes up early each morning to engage in quiet meditation to relax and prepare her for the busy day ahead.
But despite all the demands and challenges of her profession it's one that she finds very fulfilling and would encourage others to enter. "Apart from academic qualifications, a pharmacist must have good people skills and lots of patience. One should want to be a pharmacist must be prepared to dedicate much time to learn. You have to take the time to understand what the profession entails in order to decide which area may prove to be more satisfying. To remain proficient requires lifelong learning as the profession is continually advancing with new discoveries and therapies, but being a pharmacist is a very satisfying and rewarding profession."