Friday, July 24, 2015

Where is the love?

Observer column for MON 20 July 2015

by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Young Constable Curtis Lewis
“The word is Love”, was the slogan which captured our young hearts in the seventies, endearing us to then PNP leader Michael Manley.  However, as we become a society untrusting of even our shadows, we wonder, as the song asks, “Where is the love?” We do not need the love noised about on campaign platforms, but the love played out when we see politicians pounding the pavement to ensure better roads and proper water supply for their constituents.  This is the love that ensures that there are measures to address the needs of the most vulnerable.  This is the love that will make Jamaica a safe, productive country.

In the one short week since this column reflected on the courage of the members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, two officers have been killed by heartless thugs.  The first was 21-year-old Constable Curtis Lewis who tried to stop a speeding motorcyclist on the Sheffield main road in Westmoreland last Monday.  Instead of stopping, the hit-and-run rider mowed down the policeman, severing his leg.  Constable Lewis later died in the Savanna-la-mar Hospital. The senior policeman who was on duty with him had to be hospitalized, as his blood pressure shot up, stressed out at the tragic event.
Back here in Kingston, Woman Constable Crystal Thomas had finished her day’s work on Tuesday and was travelling on public transportation to see her mother in Spanish Town, when gunmen hijacked the bus on Spanish Town Road. As she struggled to defend herself and fellow passengers, she was shot dead.  The incident has plunged her family and colleagues into mourning.
Constable Crystal Thomas
Jamaica Observer reporter Kimmo Matthews painted a sad picture of the scene at her workplace on Wednesday: “Police at the Denham Town station wept openly yesterday, even as they tried to comfort grieving family members of woman Constable Crystal Thomas, who was brutally slain …. Colleagues cried as they reflected on the life of the 24-year-old resident of Kitson Town, St Catherine, who was described by her superiors as hard-working and dedicated.”
He quoted Constable Thomas’ mother, Jacqueline Brown: "She was a person like that who, despite the challenges, stuck to the task and was just days away from collecting her first degree, only to have criminals cut her life short … It hard, it hard; what mi going do now; no more rice and peas, no more seeing my baby; the man dem just kill off mi daughter like that.”
Jacqueline Brown weeps
The comments online reflect the distress of Jamaicans here and abroad.  One particular comment from Christopher Burey Snr tells the story of the sacrifices being made by members of the Police Force: “After spending 49 years on this given Earth, 19 of those in service to my country Jamaica, my heart weeps for our fallen colleagues. For the last 5 years I am constantly being reminded that I am no longer a cop; I might no longer serve, but I can never stop being a cop in my heart.”

He continued: “So today I mourn with the serving fraternity, families and all law abiding Jamaicans who mourn the loss of the two young Constables. They paid the ultimate price in service to their country; may their memories within the service of the Force never die. I know it will never die for the families, relatives and friends. Let us lift our voices collectively as a group, nation so that the warriors who serve this noble institution and country never go in vain; put in place a monument, a scholarship, a symbol to remember the fallen, place it in a place for all to see the ultimate sacrifice they made with their lives, for they want a better place for all Jamaicans to live. Let not the tears shed go unseen, let not the heartaches go unfelt. Let us wipe the tears and do the right for our unsung heroes; put in place the monument to remember them all, fallen warriors of the Constabulary Force.”
As the murder figures rise, we wonder how this tiny country could have become so wracked with pain.  Not a single one of our leaders can plead innocence.  At our weekly Mass, we confess sins of “what I have done and what I have failed to do”, sins of commission and omission.  There are enough people with good, decent, law-abiding parents who have entered politics.  In the name of those hardworking parents, we are appealing to them to stop playing this dangerous game of power with our country. 
Enough books have been written, enough reports have been documented, of the thuggery introduced into politics by both parties.  This column has referred to the confession of a dying policeman, heard by a health worker who could not believe the order the man received and the accompanying threat to his livelihood if he did not carry it out.  He was in anguish at the fate of his soul as he related his crimes.  How many more of such policemen are there?  Are there enough that they could stand together and tell these politicians, “No more”? Are there enough of them to say, “No longer will we play your game, or ignore those who decide to play it”?
The Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) can assist by creating a website on the activities of Members of Parliament and Councillors, so we can know who are really looking out for their constituents.  In recent newscasts a saddened MP Lloyd B Smith described the lawlessness in the West, and the brave SSP Steve McGregor vowed that he would persevere with his crime fighting plans.
The message of solidarity with our Police from US Ambassador Luis Moreno is heartening.  We know of the long-standing support of the USAID in promoting community policing, and their emphasis on community ownership of these various projects.  We know there are police officers and decent politicians who are in fear of the vicious system in which they find themselves.  We hope that a ‘whistle-blower’ programme can be introduced to encourage such individuals to come forward and finally unmask the devious wrongdoers in their midst.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

WROC Back to School Medicals!

Here is an important message to parents from Women's Outreach Resource Centre (WROC)

Back to School Medicals for only J$1200

Bring your children out on July 22nd and July 29th to the Women's Resource & Outreach Centre
to get their medicals done before the rush in August.

Please call us to Register today!

Please share with your networks​

Women's Resource & Outreach Centre Limited
47 Beechwood Avenue
Kingston 5

Telephone: (876) 929-8873;
(876) 960-9067
Like us on Facebook:
Follow us on Twitter: @WROCJamaica

Monday, July 13, 2015

JCF needs allies to fight crime

Observer column for MON 13 JULY 2015
By Jean Lowrie-Chin

I can almost sympathise with Police Commissioner Carl Williams for his faux pas, giving himself a perfect score even in the face of rising crime.  The members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force continue to be some of the hardest working, most disciplined Jamaicans, with multiple occupational hazards.  Why should they get all the blame? They do not create crime, and they acknowledge their task to fight it.  Only last week the brilliant Deputy Commissioner of Police Novelette Grant called to discuss a programme for at-risk youth in Westmoreland, as she works to save them from gang recruitment. 
Folks are always surprised when I mention to them that the Jamaican youth club with the largest membership in the Police Youth Club.  Indeed, the much-admired Senior Superintendent Steve McGregor who I had the pleasure of interviewing earlier in his career, said it was his membership in the Police Youth Club that sparked his interest in joining the JCF. 
Community policing is important, but the more we blame the police for crime, the more we give other responsible parties a 'bly' for not playing their part in helping Jamaica to higher standards of security.
Let us look at the Church.  Yes, some denominations are doing their part – building and running colleges and schools, feeding the poor, caring for and housing the most vulnerable among us.  Unfortunately, others are promoting the "Sunday Christian" way of life: there are pastors who cannot be found between church services, and church members who are shamed if they do not cough up large offerings.  Credible, dynamic leaders of faith-based organisations have been making a profound difference in the lives of their church members, and can help to influence their less energetic colleagues to be on the ground in their communities, emulating the Jesus they so love to proclaim from decorated pulpits.
Then there are our political representatives.  Again we have some hardworking leaders, but there are others who need to take time out from their internal power struggles to advocate for their suffering constituents, just begging for a few more hours of attention.  Elected representatives have the strongest links to the ministries, government agencies and parish councils that are mandated to carry out the country's business.  They can demand better service for our people and the media would be glad to assist in such advocacy.  I am also encouraged by continued activities of the PNP YO and JLP's G2K – kudos to young politicians like Ian Telfer and Floyd Green who seem to have a real interest in their country's development. 
We cannot exclude the private sector.  The larger companies are doing more than their fair share, but small and medium enterprises should know that they also have a responsibility to their communities.  In fact, it is enlightened self-interest; the more you do for the folks in your neighbourhood, the better the environment for your business to thrive. 
Thank goodness for our robust civil society groups.  We are glad to hear that Jamaicans for Justice are sorting out their tax liabilities, as such organisations help to keep us honest.  Kudos also to Jamaica Environment Trust, Citizens Action for Principle and Integrity, Stand Up For Jamaica, and Hear the Children Cry. 
One recent criticism I heard about the recruitment process at the JCF, is that there seems to be a bias towards applicants with university degrees and that these recruits are more office-bound than on the beat.  If this is so, surely that must affect our crime-fighting approach.
With the help of Jamaica's churches, political representatives, private sector and civil society, we can make the urgent changes needed to help Commissioner Williams achieve a better crime-fighting score.  It cannot be the sole responsibility of the police.
Poor prison conditions
Nationwide Radio carried a series of interviews recently on prison conditions.  An innocent woman I know spent time in jail some years ago, because she was framed by cruel in-laws, so let us not be so judgmental of prisoners that we pay them scant attention.
The late Motty Perkins brought us the agony of 21-year-old Agana Barrett, who died in an overcrowded Constant Spring lock-up in 1992.  Carla Gulotta of Stand up for Jamaica explained to George Davis and Kalilah Enriquez that many of the changes needed in our prisons do not require money, but rather a change in attitude.  Indeed, if there were a system in place to ensure that prisoners are put to work, our prisons could become sustainable, and those who have completed their sentences would emerge with new skills, better able to reintegrate themselves as productive citizens.
Food for the Poor has two programmes that have gone a far way in helping those who have fallen on the wrong side of the law.  They have the traditional Easter and Christmas prison release programme where they pay fines for non-violent prisoners, and through their stories we have come to realise how thin the line can be between freedom and incarceration.  They also have a re-integration programme which assists ex-prisoners to get back on their feet.  We haven't heard from him for a while, but we should never forget the efforts of Dr Raymoth Notice, who advocated for such programmes.
The balm of sports
What joy to see "World Boss" Chris Gayle, score the century for Jamaica Tallawahs last Thursday at Sabina Park, leading them to victory over the Trinidad Red Steels.  Cricket has come a long way since I watched it with one of its most avid fans, my Dad.  He probably would have culture shock at the bright coloured outfits and the noise level, but this Hero CPL T20 has brought much excitement and interest to the game.  We are amused to see Dad's aftershave Limacol, now rebranded and hyped.
Then on Wednesday in their first match for the CONCACAF Gold, our Reggae Boyz tied with the strong Costa Rica team, thanks to goals from Garath McCleary and Jobi McAnuff. As we go to press, they are gearing to meet Canada.
The tenacious president of the Jamaica Netball Association Marva Bernard achieved her fundraising goal to take our Sunshine Girls to the Netball World Cup in Australia next month, and we have high hopes for the team, captained by Nicole Aiken-Pinnock.  They copped the bronze in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, after defeating England 2-1, to place behind Australia and New Zealand.
Jamaica is also participating in the PanAm Games happening now in Toronto, and we send best wishes to our first ever BMX competitor Maliek Byndloss and his coach, Jonathan Gosse of the Oracabessa Foundation.
Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce continues to live up to expectations, Asafa Powell is signaling a comeback and we are confident that Usain Bolt will be as good as new and ready for all-comers as he regains full fitness.  Thank goodness for sports – opening doors for thousands and helping us all to keep our sanity!
Jean Lowrie-Chin

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Refired, not retired!

A group in South Africa refers to themselves as folks who have been 'refired', not retired - the members of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) are living up to this description!
Kim Isava and Sarah Warren of and Patrice Smith-Sterling of Digicel assist CCRP members

Watching the screen for instructions
Excerpt from column by Jean Lowrie-Chin in Jamaica Observer 6 July 2015:
Over 20 CCRP members CCRP attended a session with CaribbeanJobs.Com, hosted by the Digicel Foundation last Thursday.  They uploaded their resumes, having become available, post-retirement to re-enter the job market on either a full-time or part-time basis.  Companies would do well to hire such persons.  They are qualified and experienced and do not appear remotely old!   

One chic lady noted, “With our degrees and expertise on the job, we are just ready to tackle even bigger projects!” 

Rochelle Vassell of gives pointers.
Indeed they are.  Companies are discovering that such individuals also bring strong ethics to the workplace and are excellent mentors for younger team members.  We recently had a data entry backlog at CCRP, and one of our retired members, Donna-Maria Freckleton worked for just a few hours per week, bringing us up to date in no time. More than 80 percent of our 1,400 members are computer literate, and more than half are on social media. 

For smaller businesses, such qualified professionals are a boon, as they can provide services part-time without burdening budgets with hefty salaries and perks.  Another interesting observation is that these folks in their sixties and seventies seem to be in better health than the youngsters – they rarely take sick days.

Younger members expand CCRP Caring Committee
Our younger CCRP members are also volunteering for our Caring Committee, chaired by the evergreen Irene Walter. Inspired by CCRP Chairman Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer’s research, alerting us to the need for greater attention to Jamaica’s “old-old”, they plan to provide support to our elderly members.  

We are looking forward to a session with consultant psychiatrist Dr. E Anthony Allen who will guide us in making our visits as meaningful as possible, and help strengthen our advocacy for the protection of Jamaica’s elderly.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Brian Lara's Master Class


Record-breaking West Indies cricket legend to inspire thousands of local children in Trinidad ahead of competition finale

Saturday, 4th July 2015 - Basseterre, St Kitts: West Indies legend and Hero CPL T20 ambassador, Brian Lara, has today announced that he will be giving an exclusive cricketing masterclass to thousands of children from Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday 25th July, the eve of this year's Hero CPL final.

Lara, who still holds the world records for the highest ever score in first-class cricket (501 not out) and the highest individual score in a Test innings (400 not out), will deliver the masterclass at the iconic Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad, the venue for this year's Hero CPL final.

Commenting on the announcement, Brian Lara said:

"Passing on my skills and experience to youngsters is something that has always been really important to me and I'm excited about this chance to work with all these talented kids in my home town. CPL is all about inspiring West Indians of all ages to get excited about cricket again, and I hope events like this will help us find our next generation of cricketing legends."

Damien O'Donohoe, CEO of the Hero Caribbean Premier League, commented;

"Brian is a living legend and it's going to be amazing to see the positive impact his masterclass will have on the local kids who will attend. This year's CPL has seen thousands of children entertained and inspired by the best cricketers from the West Indies and across the world. The CPL players have attended schools across the region, speaking to the children about what it takes to make it to the top of whatever profession they choose. Brian's masterclass will be the perfect way to sign off this programme of events with the children of Trinidad and, fingers crossed, we may even identify the next Brian Lara while bringing the biggest party in sport to the Queen's Park Oval".

Further information on the masterclass and tickets to be announced soon.


The Hero Caribbean Premier League is a franchise-based T20 format cricket tournament that combines two of the most compelling aspects of Caribbean life – dramatic cricket and a vibrant Carnival atmosphere.  The Barbados Tridents are the defending champions from 2014.

From :James Wynne