by Jean Lowrie-Chin | column published in the Jamaica Observer | 22 Dec 2014
|Poinsettia ...from Wikipedia|
It would be very easy to dwell on the negative, but in this blessed Season, let us choose happiness, embracing the special joy of our Jamaican Christmas. For those of us who are able to enjoy the warmth of our sunshine, let us think of our sisters and brothers in the Diaspora, who like our celebrated Jamaican poet Claude McKay are overwhelmed with nostalgia at this time of the year. Here are lines from the poem “Flame Heart” which he wrote at Christmas in New York: “So much have I forgotten in ten years…I have forgotten much, but still remember/ The poinsettia's red, blood-red in warm December…. We were so happy, happy, I remember, / Beneath the poinsettia's red in warm December.”
Let it be known that hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans from every walk of life are doing much for the less fortunate this Christmas. Our service clubs, the Kiwanians, Lions, Optimists and Rotarians have been reaching out to young and old. Religious, philanthropic, public and private sector organisations have done large scale treats.
|CCRP Caring Committee Chair Mrs Irene Walter distributes gifts with fellow Committee Member Mrs Verla Seymour|
At their recent social, members of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) brought so many gifts for residents of the Golden Age home that a large vehicle had to be used to transport them. The majority of CCRP members are pensioners on a limited budget – yet they still find it in their hearts to donate to the less fortunate.
At a Christmas luncheon held last Sunday by the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Kingston, we heard plans for their annual treats as well as for their ongoing inner city literacy programme, supported by the Cecile and Norman Jarrett Foundation. Cecile Jarrett touched our hearts with her poem about a street-child, alone at Christmas, motivating our resolution to give special support to the Street Children Programme led by Sarah Newland-Martin at the YMCA.
Today, Island Grill will hand over $1 million to Mustard Seed as well as a veritable truckload of toys collected at their branches throughout the island.
The world should know that Jamaica is a country of goodwill. Yes, like every other country, we have our challenges, but because of our tolerance of all religions and a growing respect for each other, Jamaica continues to be, as Tony Rebel says, “a nice place to live”.
‘Danny Buck’ Sports Tourism Centre
|Jason Henzell - Chairman, BREDS Foundation|
Christmas joy permeated the opening of the Donald Buchanan Sports Tourism Centre in Treasure Beach last Sunday. The Jason Henzell led BREDS Foundation shows what a community can do when they join together to create a vision, and work together to make it a reality. BREDS grant writers Dramaine Jones and Maisie Allen, who have been donating services at the Foundation, made applications to the Tourism Enhancement Fund, The Chase Fund, The Digicel Foundation, GraceKennedy and Pepsi. The sponsors who visited the community and saw the level of planning sand cooperation stepped up willingly.
Keynote speaker former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson looked like a man ready to face the polls again though he quipped that, had he spent another ten years in politics, he would not be looking so well. Witty and eloquent, Mr Patterson wove a wonderful tapestry of affirmation as he recalled the contribution made by Donald Buchanan to the South West St. Elizabeth constituency. He gently chided some of his colleagues for gaps in the parish’s infrastructure, and urged balance between satisfying the requirements of the IMF agreement and development for economic growth and job creation. Mr Patterson noted that the late Desmond Henry was also a champion for St. Elizabeth, and a tennis player, so he suggested that the tennis facilities could be named in his honour.
It was refreshing to hear the frank tone of Mr Patterson as he warned that if access roads to the area were not fixed, the Centre would not be the success it deserves to be. Happily, Minister of Works, Transport and Housing Omar Davies was on hand to hear Mr Patterson’s appeal, and promised to look into the matter.
“We’re going to invite a few foreign teams to come down and use sports for social change,” said Jason Henzell. “We tend to measure the park based on opportunities we provide for youngsters.” This was also noted by Jason’s wife Laura in a conversation we shared. “We want children from poorer communities can come here for camps, so they can get the attention and feel the love that every child deserves,” said the caring mother.
The sports park is home to an ‘edusports’ programme which employs local and foreign coaches to train youth in football, cricket, basketball and netball. An annual fair, which connects American universities with Jamaican student athletes through collaboration with the Jonathan Hibbert Foundation, also opens up scholarship opportunities for participants.
It was heart-warming to see the widow of Donald Buchanan, the steadfast Dorothy, who was obviously moved by the occasion, especially when her two children paid tribute to their father. The young MP Hugh Buchanan continues the legacy with the same warmth and engagement of his father.
It was a pleasure to meet the ambitious young men of Rose Town who are certifying themselves even as they produce fine furniture items and blocks at the Rose Town Foundation’s block making and woodwork facilities. Their well-built workshops with tools neatly lined up and lessons well illustrated on whiteboards, demonstrate the resolve of the Rose Town citizens to equip themselves for employment. Kudos to Rose town Project Manager Angela Stultz and Business Coordinator Gresford Bennett.
Once again, we are reminded that our young people are not lazy. They simply need the opportunity and the guidance to become financially independent. I was particularly moved when they applauded loudly at the mention of Marcus Garvey’s words, calling for unity and diligence. It made me wonder why the teachings of this our first National Hero, are not an integral part of our primary school curriculum. Ken Jones’ collection of his quotes under the title “Marcus Garvey Said..” is a must-have.
Jamaican Books make great gifts
Please remember that a book is a wonderful gift, and our Jamaican authors have been producing fine work. Some good buys are Gwyneth Harold’s “Young Heroes of the Caribbean”, Cecile Jarrett’s “Voices from the Shore”, Lilieth Nelson’s “Angles & Reflections”, George Meikle’s “In Praise of Jamaica”, Henry Lowe’s “It Can Be Done”, Tony Becca’s “Cricket Lovely Cricketers: The Best of my Time”, Robert Lalah’s “Roving with Lalah” and Fay Pickersgill’s “Jamaica’s Fascinating Falmouth”.
Jean Lowrie-Chin is the author of ‘Souldance’, a collection of poems and essays.