Saturday, January 30, 2016

Great Tour of Duty, Ambassador Paola Amadei!

Members of IWF Jamaica with Ambassador Amadei (centre): Thalia Lyn, Minna Israel, Allison Peart, Jean Lowrie-Chin at Farewell Reception last Monday at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel
EU Ambassador Paola Amadei completed an energetic four-year tour of duty in Jamaica and other Caribbean and Latin American countries.  She celebrated Jamaica’s 40-year partnership with the European Union last year; we have benefitted magnanimous funding in the areas of poverty reduction, education, agriculture, housing, health and gender equality.  

The wonderful gentlemen who supported the #HeforShe Campaign, endorsed by Ambassador Amadei
Her passion for gender equality was a special feature at a farewell event held in her honour last week.  We were invited to sign our support at the UN’s website, and all the gentlemen in the room joined her for a “HeforShe” moment, captured on my Twitter page @souldancing.

Ambassador Paola will not be abandoning her ties with our region. She heads to Germany where she will take up the post of Executive Director of the European Union-Latin America & Caribbean (EU-LAC) Foundation.  We thank her for her generous engagement in Jamaica and send best wishes to her and her family.

Friday, January 29, 2016

CCRP - Caribbean Community of Retired Persons - a caring organisation

CCRP Caring Committee members (from left) Irene Walter, Chair and Hannah Dixon Secretary, present gifts to Golden Age Home resident, Beverly Brown. Also sharing the moment is Supervisor of Cluster D at the Golden Age Home, Sheron Bowley.

Kingston, December 22, 2015: CCRP, the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons, has reconstituted and enlarged its Caring Committee in order to offer greater support to its members.  CCRP, founded in 2010 by Communications Consultant and Seniors Advocate Jean Lowrie-Chin, is a not-for-profit membership organisation created to encourage and support the rights and welfare of retired persons.  Recognising that, as we age, our needs become more varied and unique. The CCRP's mission is to both anticipate and respond to some of these 'special needs'.

Many of these needs result from the natural vulnerabilities caused by ageing – deteriorating health and mobility, economic challenges, (especially faced by persons on fixed incomes or no income) bereavement, and loneliness. Prof. Denise Eldemire-Shearer, Chair of the CCRP and Director of the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre reports that the elderly (60 years and older) constitute 11.3% of the Jamaican population today, and are projected to rise to 25% by 2050. Over 50% of the elderly are alone, single or widowed.  

The mandate of the CCRP's Caring Committee is to provide direct support, care and attention to CCRP members who are considered vulnerable for reasons of ill health, loss of family member(s), loneliness or other situations requiring palliative interventions.  Membership of the Caring Committee has been expanded to 30 with 15 constituting a core group willing to play an active role in bringing care and comfort to the wider membership when called upon.  

In the past, the Caring Committee had concentrated on marking Centenarian Day every year, undertaken in collaboration with the National Council for Senior Citizens. The committee also brings cheer to the Golden Age Home at Christmas by making a presentation of gift items contributed by members at their annual Christmas social for donation to the residents of the Home. 

This year was no different as members brought boxes of items of toiletries to donate to the home.  These were presented to the residents on Friday, December 18 by the Chair of the Committee, Irene Walter and the Secretary Hannah Dixon. They were accompanied by CCRP Administrative Assistant, Angela Foote.

The reinvigorated committee intends to be much more proactive and responsive to members' needs, helping without hindering, remaining sensitive to the committee's mission of empowering members "to live life to its fullest".

For further information please contact:

Dorett Linton
CCRP Jamaica
Tel. 469-1944

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jamaica Stock Exchange – to the world!

Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin

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Marlene Street-Forrest
Congratulations to the dynamic Marlene Street-Forrest, General Manager of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, and her hardworking team: their extraordinary efforts have earned them Bloomberg’s rating as the Number One performing stock exchange in the world in 2015!  Marlene Street-Forrest has noted international interest in Jamaica’s firms:  Heineken NV’s purchase of Red Stripe/Desnoes & Geddes saw those shares soaring by 500 percent and a Mexican company acquired majority shares in the Burrowes family’s Dolphin Cove.

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Legendary Myrtle Bank Hotel (Getty Images)
The Jamaica Stock Exchange started operations in 1969, founded by Willard Samms, Raglan Golding, Edward Gayle and Anthony Lloyd.  The palms around their building at 40 Harbour Street bring back memories of driving with my Dad along the palm-lined driveway of the Myrtle Bank Hotel which was at that very location. 

How the business district of downtown Kingston has developed since then – it holds great promise, as does the tourism, agriculture, real estate and manufacturing sectors of Jamaica. The world is discovering the potential of our beloved country, the largest English-speaking Caribbean island, set squarely in the centre of the Americas.

The late Basil Buck
Years ago, I decided to become a ‘penny stockholder’ in the companies served by our agency – this gave a deeper understanding of the businesses, as I listened to the concerns of shareholders large and small at the annual general meetings.  My late friend Basil Buck, owner of Buck Securities, organised for these share purchases and made a few suggestions which turned out to be excellent. 

Then, when we handled the publicity for the Junior Market listings of the Lasco companies about five years ago, we suggested reserving shares for teachers, nurses and police officers, for whom our shop had developed affirmation programmes.  The awareness sessions went well, bringing in hundreds of new participants in Jamaica’s Stock Market.
The Bloomberg website notes that the JSE has launched the Caribbean’s first online trading platform.  This has inspired Denis St. Bernard, a London-based business consultant to start “a diaspora-focused investment company that would pool contributions.” St. Bernard noted that the opportunities are with known Jamaican brands such as GraceKennedy.

Sushil Jain
Investment guru Sushil Jain has been an enthusiastic supporter of Blue Chip Jamaican companies listed on the JSE.  “Why wouldn’t you want to have people like Don Wehby and Patrick Hylton working for you?” he asks. Let us make financial literacy a priority so that ordinary Jamaicans can tap into every opportunity for wealth creation.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Beautiful RJR Sports Foundation Awards

Excerpt from Observer column -  Mon 18 Jan 2016
By Jean Lowrie-Chin

The RJR Foundation Sports Awards, organised by the meticulous Yvonne Wilks-O'Grady and her team, left us filled with pride. There they were, the fastest man and woman in the world, Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price, being crowned as Jamaica's Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year.  There was cancer survivor, Novlene Williams-Mills, who roared past the American leader in 4x400 World Games event in Beijing to take the Gold Medal for Jamaica, showing us the courage and perseverance that can come from our darkest moments.

Guest speaker UWI Vice-Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles, lauded Jamaica for our "most incredible contribution to sport". In recalling the resolve of the Swiss to preserve their reputation as the world's top watch-makers, he advised that sports in Jamaica "must be institutionalized and industrialized" to maintain this excellence. He said that what has happened to West Indies cricket must never happen to Jamaica and that we had a responsibility to come together to safeguard our dominance.

As he spoke, I recalled how a Chinese spectator pleaded with me for my Jamaican flag at the Beijing Olympics.  Are we gearing for Rio?  Is there a project to embrace our craft workers so that our vibrant Jamaican colours will shine in Brazil? How far ahead are our sports tourism plans? Let us heed Sir Hilary, thus ensuring that all Jamaicans can benefit from our phenomenal sporting successes.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

“With no apology, I thank God!”

Don Wehby

by Jean Lowrie-Chin - excerpt from Jamaica Observer column 
Over 400 members of the GraceKennedy senior team and scores of others via the internet looked expectantly at their Group CEO, Don Wehby, as he stood to address them earlier this month.  He began by thanking them for their contribution to the Group’s success and then stated, “With no apology, I thank God for His blessings.”  Don commented that he was surprised at the number of calls he had received afterwards, applauding those words.  “I grew up in a home that believed in prayer and worship,” he said. “This was supported by my teachers at St. George’s College, and I am grateful for my faith.”
There are many leaders in the private and the public sector like Don Wehby, whose practices in the workplace are underpinned by their Christian beliefs.  This week they will be among the scores of Jamaican leaders who will gather for the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast which will have as its theme, “Righteousness Exalts The Nation”. 
What a challenge this theme is to our leaders, especially those in the political sphere.  The undertone of desperation that has entered the political conversation leaves us wondering if righteousness has been left out of Jamaica’s political equation. For our parties and other organisations to produce strong and decent leaders, they must ensure that their representatives are trustworthy, so they can inspire the trust of others. 
I will never forget the call for help from a terrified police superintendent of blessed memory.  He had pulled over a car in St. Ann, and discovered contraband and millions of dollars in cash.  As a strong Christian, an Elder in his church, he prepared a detailed report on the matter, stating the sum that was in the vehicle.  Lo and behold, he received ugly threats from fellow officers who were at the scene.  They demanded to know why he had not reported a smaller amount so they could all split the difference among them.  They also made threatening phone calls to his wife, a respected teacher.  Sadly, the following year I heard that this relatively young man had died – it seems that his heart could not withstand the stress.
Many of our leaders have had to face similar dilemmas, wondering whether they should just follow the negative status quo, or step out and show the courage of their convictions.  It is not easy, nor is it simple.  I continue to believe that one cannot change the system if one stays out of it.  Therefore, we have to commend those who take the bold step of entering politics.  More than ever, we have to affirm representatives like Councillor Venesha Phillips of the August Town area, who has openly condemned criminality, and has led the citizens of the area in a march against it.
It is interesting how many political leaders tiptoe around the issue of criminal gangs when they make their major speeches.  The formula of putting thugs in charge of tightly packed tenement yards seems to be a cynical method of keeping a seat.  In our garrisons, the phenomenon of destitute mothers having six, seven children when they can hardly feed one, begs a question. Surely their representatives know that family planning clinics offer free assistance to such persons.
As our church leaders plan this National Leadership exercise, we need to ask them to follow through on the strong and moving messages delivered at these events. They have the influence, and should not only call out leaders at the prayer breakfast, but also from every pulpit in Jamaica.
Dr Lucien Jones (left) in prayer with colleagues at World Remembrance Day Service for victims of road crashes
Dr Lucien Jones who is an Elder at the St. Andrew Parish Church, shared these thoughts of theologian Oswald Chambers on prayer in his internet ministry: “It is not so true that ‘Prayer changes things’ as that prayer changes me, and then I change things.”
We are looking forward to the presentation of this year’s speaker, Pastor Glen Octavius Samuels, President of the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh Day Adventists. The event will be broadcast live on television and radio. Please gather in your homes, schools, and workplaces to participate in this moving event, and encourage your family, friends and colleagues to make their own pledge towards a more righteous Jamaica.

Indeed, the words of our National Pledge written by The Rev. Hugh Sherlock, reminds us of our responsibility: “I promise to stand up for justice, brotherhood and peace, to work diligently and creatively, to think generously and honestly, so that, Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.”

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Pope Francis' Recommended Resolutions

Shared by Archbishop Emeritus of Kingston,  Jamaica,  Most Rev Donald Reece


1.       Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.

2.       Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.

3.       Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.

4.       Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence

5.       Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.

6.       Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.

7.       Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.

8.       Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing fingers at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.

9.       Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker….the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged by this.




Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tips for successful implementation

Mariame McIntosh Robinson receives a presentation from CEO of GK Insurance Segment, Grace Burnett after her inspiring address at the Company's Annual Business Conference last Saturday at the Jamaica Conference Centre
Mariame Robinson’s great guidelines
(Excerpt from Jean Lowrie-Chin's Jamaica Observer column published Jan 11, 2016)

The brilliant Mariame Robinson condensed a strong seminar into a half-hour presentation at a GraceKennedy conference last week.  We all sat up straighter when we heard her creds: Jamaican Rhodes Scholar, graduating from Oxord, MIT, and Harvard.  The management guru observed that our country and region were rich with ideas for great projects and strategies, but we have been falling short on the execution of these ideas.

In the coming year, we would do well to adopt her implementation guidelines:

1.     Define the metrics – what does success look like? Use process metrics to execute on time and on budget.
2.     Manage people effectively.  Coaching and development should involve getting feedback from team members, so they have ownership of the project. Ensure that the discussion is balanced and around observed behaviour, not just feelings.
3.     Suggest solutions to arrive at your ultimate goal of flawless execution.
4.     Develop a communication plan to build trust.  Celebrate early wins.
5.     Issue resolution: think about who you need to bring into the room to get advice and counsel.  Constantly ask, why? This will help to clarify issues.

She stressed the importance of integrity, to avoid the derailment of implementation. “You don’t want to be cutting corners and you should always demand the full truth.  It is important to ensure that everything is front and centre,” she advised. She noted that since we spend so many of our waking hours working, we should organise towards the goal of flawless implementation.

May I add that there are now so many nifty apps on our smartphones that we have many tools to manage our time, budgets, communication.  Please do not be shy to ask for advice on how to use these apps.  I have had many ‘aha’ moments, thanks to my young team members who are so adept with the technology.  Once you familiarize yourself, you will be surprised at how much time you can save.  

Post Script - It was announced today that Mrs McIntosh Robinson will succeed Mr Courtney Campbell as CEO of GK's First Global Bank. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

A New Year of Mercy – for self and others

Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin - published 4 Jan 2016

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Pope Francis
With the New Year, comes a new opportunity to be our best selves. Pope Francis has appealed to the world to make this a Year of Mercy.  Let me suggest that we apply this mercy to our own selves – many of us are carrying guilt, hurt, regrets that have been weighing us down for years.  We owe it to ourselves to let these go, confiding in a pastor, counsellor, trusted relative or friend.

Then there is the whole business of fitness and appearance with the phrases ‘body-shaming’ and ‘fat-shaming’ popular on social media.  Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the first Star Wars trilogy, reappears at 59 years of age as General Leia in ‘The Force Awakens’, and was told on social media that, “You didn’t age well”.  Her tweeted reply is a reminder to us all: “Youth and Beauty are not accomplishments, they’re the temporary, happy by-products of time and/or  DNA…”. 

Another famous movie star, the late Audrey Hepburn, gave these tips for becoming more attractive: “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”
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Psychologist Dr Leahcim Semaj

Psychologist Dr Leahcim Semaj offered advice regarding weight loss resolutions in a media interview last week.  “Instead of resolving to lose 50 pounds in the year, it is better to plan to lose one pound per week,” he said.  That is certainly less pressure, with the identical result!

My wise sister Frances Beard, on observing my tendency to feel responsible for too many issues, begged me to remember, “If your name is not on it, don’t pick it up!” Even if your name is on those multiple emails you receive daily, it doesn’t mean that you have to take responsibility for every cause.  Indeed, you will render yourself unable to serve any cause properly if you take on too many. 

The Sisters of Mercy who taught us at Alpha Prep and Academy, were keen on us memorizing the Works of Mercy, in which we may find ideas for our resolutions.  The Corporal Works of Mercy:
·       Feed the hungry
·       Give drink to the thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Visit the sick
  • Visit the imprisoned
  • Bury the dead
The Spiritual Works of Mercy:

  • Admonish the sinner
  • Instruct the ignorant
  • Counsel the doubtful
  • Comfort the sorrowful
  • Bear wrongs patiently
  • Forgive all injuries
  • Pray for the living and the dead