Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Labour Day - Digicel Foundation partners with Trench Town Agri Business Co-op Ltd

Digicel Foundation Board Director Marlene Wilson with members of Co-op
Digicel Foundation Senior Executive Patrice Smith Sterling did some energetic raking!

Anbell CEO Andrew Pairman, son William and Leon Fraser do their part

Team members led by the wonderful Jeneard Williamson

Elon Parkinson, Dwayne Tulloch and Paddy King were happy helpers!

Enjoying the company of wonderful Respect Jamaica Ambassadors
We had a hot but productive day,  replanting greenhouses with members of the Trench Town Agri Business Cooperative Limited yesterday in Downtown Kingston. 

The citizens who own the Co-op explained that their tomato crop had challenges,  and so we worked to replant with sweet peppers which should yield in only three months!

The cheerful volunteers from Digicel Foundation,  Digicel Jamaica and Respect Jamaica had a great time,  inspired by the hardworking citizens.  The project will benefit the communities of Trench Town,  Arnett Gardens and Tivoli Gardens.

Jean Lowrie-Chin
Chairman | Digicel Jamaica Foundation

Sunday, May 22, 2016

VIP Attractions will 'Labour' at Mobay Autism Centre

The VIP Attractions Team and partners are looking forward to their special Labour Day project on Monday May 23, 2016 at the Montego Bay Autism centre.
Shelly-Ann Fung,  VIP Attractions Commercial Manager noted that the centre, established in 2010 caters to the needs of autistic children and teens and offers training and resources to improve their quality of life.

The Caring VIP Attractions Team will enhance the current infrastructure and aid developmental programs for the children. The scope of work to be accomplished on Labour Day includes:

·        Painting of all classrooms with themes.

·         Landscaping (grooming and gardening).

·         Electrical / Woodwork projects on property.

"This initiative is being amazingly embraced and supported by the several partners," noted Shelly-Ann. "The Super Support Team includes Digicel,  Jamaica Tours Limited, Solo Jamaica, Iberostar, We Resolve, MSTech, Fresh and Direct"

Their other generous partners are:

Baking Enterprise
Discount Lumber and Hardware
Gourmet Jamaica
Goddard Catering
Wrap City
Coldfield Manufacturing Limited


Monday, May 16, 2016

Parenting, strategising for nation building

Observer column published  Monday 9 May 2016 by Jean Lowrie-Chin

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Archbishop Elect Most Rev Kenneth Richards - Observer Photo
I spotted then Bishop Kenneth Richards sitting quietly at the rehearsal for the National Heroes’ Day Awards event last October.  When I said I did not know that he was receiving an award, he answered proudly that it was not he, but his mother Ms Holdroyd McDonald, who would be receiving a Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service in the field of nursing. 

Nurse McDonald has set a great example for her six high achieving children.  She has been with the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade for over 30 years, and at age 79, still attends the Senior Citizens’ meeting at the Spanish Town Cathedral every Tuesday to teach its members crochet.  “Crochet is my passion,” she says.  “It keeps the members occupied.”

Of her son who will be installed as the seventh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kingston on July 6, she says he has always been the kind of person “who doesn’t put anyone down.”  “He makes people feel lifted up,” she says, “especially the youth.”  She chuckled when I mentioned a newspaper interview where she showed her displeasure to the young Ken when he expressed a desire to become a sideman on a truck. “I am always praying for my children,” she told me. “I expect them to give their 100 percent.” 

As we contemplate the many gangs wreaking havoc on our country, we know that if more children had a mother like Nurse McDonald, they would not become such easy prey for gangs. 

Shared responsibility
In a conversation with senior police officers and concerned citizens last week, we noted that the largest youth club in Jamaica is the Police Youth Club, as our many good officers volunteer their time to help guide our children. We cannot continue to blame the police for crime: families, government, community, church and school share the responsibility to restore peace and justice in our country. 
We are still trying to come to terms with the brutal slaying of missionaries Randy Hentzel and Harold Nichols. We heard the criticisms about the Police Commissioner’s press briefing on their investigations, but we should realise that such incidents which became headlines in the US are all the more tragic because these two good men had been reaching out to the poor of our country. 

Corporal Judith Williams
The country felt a similar sense of revulsion when we learned of the cold-blooded slaying of a stalwart policewoman Corporal Judith Williams. We could not hold back the tears as her daughter spoke of that cruel morning, the same morning that she had to sit an examination. She said she knew that her mother would want her to be strong, and so she did the examination and scored 98 percent!  How hard it must have been for those children to face Mother’s Day yesterday without such a mother.

These devastating reports should motivate those of us who have done well in this country, to resolve to do more for the healing of our country.  There is a rumour that the missionaries’ deaths may have resulted from being innocently caught up in a land dispute relating to a house they were building for a needy person. Let us promote mediation training, and let us look to the Government to sharpen the mission of the Social Development Commission to restore the hope of our people.

At a recent meeting of the St. Andrew Justices of the Peace (SAJP), Supt. Norris Rhoomes of the Constant Spring Police said such training had started at his Station with the assistance of the US government and invited us to participate.  At the Stella Maris Foundation, many a dispute has been settled because of such services, and we have seen Grant’s Pen evolve into a more peaceful community over recent years. 

Members of the business community will also have to join together to resist extortionists and instead fund opportunities to train and uplift our unattached youth. Many years ago when the old ‘Things Jamaican’ factory was being converted into the Horizon Park Remand Centre, the youth of S-Corner demanded of me, “Miss, why the government building more prison and not more factory to give us work?” 

Last year, a group of young men on Orange Street were hauled in for making knock-offs of Clarks shoes.  Luckily, the police saw the talent in these young men and referred them to the Citizens Justice and Social Programme (CJSP) of the Ministry of Justice.  Now, through the mentorship of Professor K’nife at Mona School of Business and the Jamaica Business Development Company (JBDC), they are manufacturing their shoes at JBDC facilities on Marcus Garvey Drive, and the equipment funded by Digicel Foundation will be theirs once they are fully trained and their business legally established.  
Dr K'adamawe K'nife

Jamaica has many well-meaning folks, agencies and organisations.  Our challenge now is to streamline and focus our programmes so they can have the widest possible reach. Some of us are so passionate about Jamaica that we are overworked, while others have such a sense of entitlement that they will not lift a finger to volunteer for the empowerment of others.  

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Will we finally end this 'conspiracy of mediocity'?

Observer column - excerpt published 2 May 2016 by Jean Lowrie-Chin

This column has been noting for a few years well, that Jamaica’s double-blight of low productivity and corruption has its genesis in a conspiracy.  I have dubbed it “the conspiracy of mediocrity”, and when I have discussed this theory with several solid folks, a lightbulb goes off as they realise that they have been victims of said conspiracy.
Hon Michael Lee-Chin O.J.
If you have been shunned after you have made concrete suggestions to improve productivity at your workplace, if you have been sidelined after you propose new systems to ensure accountability and transparency, then you have been a victim of that conspiracy.  Mediocre managers protect their corner by closing out anyone who may expose them. 

What gives me hope that there could be an end in sight for this conspiracy, is the announcement last week of the appointment of Jamaican-born billionaire Michael Lee Chin, as Chairman of the newly formed Economic Growth Council. Lee Chin has targeted five percent growth in four years, and in order to achieve this, he will be taking a very close look at all the factors that could affect this outcome, chief among them being productivity and transparency. 

Business leaders do not make idle claims – they assess and then they project.  Clearly, Lee Chin has seen the excellence of Jamaica’s prospects, and knows that with keen planning and expert implementation, Jamaica’s economy can take off.  Remember, he is the same man who decided to purchase the National Commercial Bank, after it languished on the Government auction block for two years.  Not only did he save jobs, but he expanded the NCB Group to create even more. 

Jamaica’s excellence is a veritable litany of music and other art forms, sports, hospitality, coffee, rum, ginger, and countless ‘firsts’.  A few years ago the Ford Motor Company celebrated its centenary in Jamaica – we were their first international location. Black River had electricity before New York City, and the Manchester Golf Club is the oldest in the Americas. In a beautiful letter posted on social media, former Canadian High Commissioner Robert Ready reminded us that Bank of Nova Scotia expanded to Jamaica before it had a branch in Toronto! 

The fastest man and woman in the world Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are homegrown. Food for the Poor, which was started in Kingston, Jamaica by Ferdie Mahfood is now the largest international charity in the USA. David Hall’s VIP Attractions Ltd. now boasts the finest airport lounges in the world, with Club Mobay being expanded twice since its launch.  

Clearly, if Jamaica can have such achievements, we can meet Michael Lee-Chin’s high expectations. Like the coaches of Usain and Shelly-Ann, Lee-Chin will want optimum efficiency from every stakeholder in Jamaica’s economy. We fervently hope that this will herald the beginning of the end of that ‘conspiracy of mediocrity’ that has allowed too many to squander the hard-earned taxes of humble Jamaicans. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

ESL – vision of Eleanor Jones

Eleanor Jones - front and centre - with the ESL Team
Eleanor Jones’ colleagues at UWI where she was a Lecturer in the Department of Geology, have remarked on her vision and courage to leave academia and start Environmental Solutions Limited (ESL) with four partners in 1991.  Eleanor recalls attending successive conferences where environmental problems were widely discussed.  “Then I realised that there was an urgent need to focus on solutions,” she noted, hence the name of her company. 

The ESL anniversary supplement in the Observer carried a moving tribute to their Founding Chairman Dr Barry Wade of blessed memory, “who applied his scientific training to innovation for development, to productivity and to advocacy for principles of good governance.”

On Friday 22 April, significantly Earth Day, ESL celebrated their 25th Anniversary, looking back on major achievements, including their Quality and Environmental Health Laboratory (QEHL), the first privately owned local laboratory to gain accreditation to the ISO/IEC 17025 standard. We salute Eleanor Jones and the brilliant ESL team, as they continue their mission of “harmonising development and the environment”. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Who knows better should do better

Observer column for MON 25 April 2016  by Jean Lowrie-Chin

So here we were coming off the high of a fabulous Jamaica EXPO, and the unveiling at King’s House of seven new National Bakery Bold Ones of Manufacturing, when we see this foolish news item on Friday night’s TVJ news.  It appears that MP Juliet Holness had arrived for a meeting at a community building in the East Rural St. Andrew constituency she represents when she was confronted with heavily chained and padlocked grille doors at the entrance.  An activist declared to the reporter that this was a PNP area, implying that Mrs Holness had no business being there. Excuse me? Could we have heard correctly?

This dialogue on Twitter followed right after:
Former PNP MP Damion Crawford (@damioncrawford): “Dear East Rural if u block ppl from going to everything I built then they would go nowhere #FreeUpEducationCentre”.  This was accompanied by ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos.   
Leslie Crawford (@f2139b82669f41b: “Whatever u built Damion was not with ur money u should tell them that”.
Damion: “nvr use to see nothing done so maybe thats they think is my money (sic) + i raise private money too. Building there since 1983”.

Maybe so Damion, but unfortunately, some politicians brainwash followers that what they do with taxpayers’ money while they are in power, belongs to them, and not the people of Jamaica, hence the position of the man from East Rural St Andrew who quite sincerely believed that MP Juliet Holness had no business calling a meeting in ‘PNP area’. 

This fanaticism exists in both parties, as witnessed at the opening of Parliament when a JLP supporter offered to sell everything she had, including “my children and myself”, to help PM Andrew Holness make good on his promise of the $1.5 million tax-free PAYE threshold.

Now, PNP and JLP representatives, clearly you all know better, and you all can look back on the 54 years since Independence and know that you have sown disunity and distrust among the Jamaican people whom you swore to serve, “So help me God”.  God must be weeping – weeping  at the energy being devoted to this continued strife.  PNP and JLP alike should know that those among them who contribute to disunity and the preservation of garrisons are being keenly watched.  

Our young people are watching. Students of tertiary institutions are volunteering their own time and resources to build their communities and are puzzled at where the billions announced in budgets go.  Business leaders are watching, because no economy can be protected without an environment of meaningful collaboration.  Some of those investors we see in the business news came from very humble beginnings and they are not going to allow careless politicians to fritter away their children's birthright.

So JLP and PNP, you have some very intelligent, well-meaning folks in your midst.  Clearly you know better.  Now, we expect you to do better, so that the misguided mindset of that man from East Rural St. Andrew and that woman at the opening of Parliament, can be redirected towards the harmonious and dignified engagement of all parties in our national development.