Friday, November 25, 2016

Today is IDEVAW - Silent Protest for our Sisters!

Message from Jamaica AIDS Support for Life:

Dear Partners,

A consortium of NGOs including the AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF), Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, Eve for Life, Family Planning Association of Jamaica, Woman Inc and J-FLAG/We Change invites your organization to participate in a  Silent Protest on November 25, 2016 in the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we ask for your renewed commitment, your voices and your support to Silent Protest 2016 as we take this call to action to another level. This public event is geared towards  raising  awareness and addressing the issues surrounding violence against women.

This year's Silent Protest, serves to reinforce the fact that we are here to stand in support and camaraderie on behalf of the many  women and girls who have experienced violence of any and every form. Singly we can do little but together we can do so much. We invite you and some of your beneficiaries to once again participate with us in this activity by joining us in protest .

Your involvement will certainly aid in the success of the Silent Protest.

We hereby request the participation of  25 persons from your organization.

The Silent Protest activity will take place around the Half Way Tree and its environs between the hours of 12 noon to 5:00 p.m. as follows:
-            1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
– Participants meet on the lawns of Police Officers Club, 34 Hope Road, Kingston 10 for briefing.
-          2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
– All participants will 'take to the streets' to canvass support from passersby about the initiative and share the importance of our protest.
-        4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
– Actual Silent Protest: During the protest participants will demonstrate their silence through various means e.g. tape the mouth, bear placards, stand in silence, stand motionless, etc.
-              5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
– Debriefing and partaking of meals at St. Andrew Parish Church Hall, Ellesmere Road, Kingston 10

Kindly indicate your intention to participate in the Silent Protest stating the number of persons attending (and t-shirt sizes) through return email by November 4th, 2016. Your timely response will allow for making adequate preparation to make the event a successful one.  Please see attached the shirts and the messages which they represent.

Anticipating your favourable response.

Thank you.

Kind Regards,
Donique Green
Peer Navigator
#Never give up on your dreams you may just be in reach.

Jamaica AIDS Support for Life
3 Hendon Drive,'
Kingston 20
☎ 925-0021/2  

      ext: 2232


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Who fathered the babies of the Kellits high school Moms?

Below is press release from Hear The Children's Cry re alarming levels of teen pregnancy and school drop outs.
... A very serious matter indeed.

PRESS RELEASE                                                            November 20, 2016

How many of these statutory rape cases are being/have been investigated?
Jamaica is a country of laws, we must enforce these laws.
Government must actively address school girl/child poverty as an important root cause of teen pregnancy.
Serious strengthening of PATH Programme, realistically increased funding to CDA, OCA, CISOCA, and support for NGOs working in child welfare field urgently needed
The current de facto acceptance of underage pregnancy as the national trend is strengthening unacceptable inter-generational poverty.

Hear The Children’s Cry, in response to this Sunday Gleaner’s report of 20 Kellit’s High School girls dropping out of school over the past two years due to pregnancies, is calling upon the authorities to say who fathered the babies, and is asking what investigations have been done to bring these perpetrators of statutory rape to justice.

“Where are the fathers of these babies?” asks the leading child advocacy organization’s Founder Betty Ann Blaine. She continues, pointing out a number of alarming aspects to a situation which may well represent a national epidemic of significant proportions:

“What investigations have been, or are being done into these cases of impregnating underage girls? Can the Child Development Agency (CDA) say how many of these cases are even being investigated at all? Statutory rape is a crime under Jamaican law. It is not enough to say that the girls involved will not reveal the names of the baby fathers – the police are required to make investigations and to carry out the law. We cannot continue to live in a country where the laws of the land are not enforced. What is the point of having the Child Protection Act call for mandatory reporting of offenses against children by citizens, if reports of such cases are not investigated?

“We are also asking the Minister of Education to let the nation know whether the situation in Kellits is representative of the national situation. How many schools across Jamaica are facing such shocking numbers of teenage pregnancies? How widespread through our land is the tragedy of school careers interrupted or curtailed due to impregnation of under aged school girls? How many young Jamaican girls are being burdened with pregnancies when they should be completing their education and preparing for earning a decent living?”

Mrs. Blaine also points out the urgent need to deal with significant root causes, such as child poverty and lack of effective family support for those in the most dire circumstances, which must also be recognized and addressed as a national priority.

“There is no doubt that this situation – in which many school children need to seek help outside of their families to survive and to attend school – is being driven by grinding levels of poverty in the poorest communities,” she notes, adding, “Here The Children’s Cry is therefore calling on the Government to make immediate and realistic efforts to strengthen the PATH Programme and to improve or add to other effective support systems for needy children and families.  For example, we are calling for realistic increases in the budgets of vital child care bodies such as the CDA, CISOCA and the Office of the Children’s Advocate (CDA), as well as for more support for the NGOs working in the child welfare arena – all of which are seriously over extended and underfunded.

“Jamaica cannot continue to ignore or inadequately address vital social issues. The drastic increase in young school girls becoming pregnant and losing out on their education, and the rearing of yet another set of needy children will only worsen the continuation of intergenerational poverty and the escalating levels of crime and violence. This must be recognized as totally unacceptable by those who have undertaken to serve this nation. And they must commit to effective action without delay.”

CONTACT: Betty Ann Blaine, Founder, 294-8125 or 462-0628; 

Betty Ann Blaine
Founder/Convener, New Nation Coalition
Founder, Hear The Children's Cry
Founder, Youth Opportunities Unlimited

Tel:           (876)  294-8125, (876) 462-0628

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Calm your nerves – Mr Trump won’t bite

Admittedly, this column was written before some controversial individuals started arriving at the Tower of Trump, regarding appointments to high office.  Still, we watch and pray!

Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column for MON 14 November 2016
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Those of us who had high hopes for Hillary Clinton were in a state of shock as we watched the results of last Tuesday’s US Presidential Elections roll in on our television screens.  Donald Trump has been declared President-Elect.

Knowing that if the US sneezes, Jamaica gets pneumonia, some expressed fear that development projects sponsored by the US in Jamaica would be affected.  However, we should remember the excellent programmes initiated by two excellent US Ambassadors to Jamaica who served under the Republican administration, Ambassador Sue Cobb and Ambassador Brenda LaGrange Johnson. 

Ambassador Cobb, a brilliant attorney-at-law, launched a raft of significant projects in Jamaica, including the founding of the ever-growing Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI). After her tour of duty in Jamaica ended, she and her husband Ambassador Charles Cobb, have continued to sponsor scholarship programmes for Jamaican students and the annual Cobb Family Lecture Series at the UWI.  Ambassador Cobb’s successor, Ambassador Brenda LaGrange Johnson also focused on education projects.

You may counter that Donald Trump known for his fiery utterances against immigrants, may have a different perspective on engagements with such countries as Jamaica. But think about it, various USAID projects in Jamaica have supported sustainable enterprise, resulting in job creation.  What better way to stem immigration to the US, by assisting developing countries to become more self-reliant?

We will not easily forget the racist attitude to some of Mr. Trump’s supporters and this may cause some amount of unease among the members of our families in the diaspora. However, President Barack Obama has given us a great example of how one projects a spirit of dignity and cordiality, as he did at Mr. Trump’s first meeting with him at the White House last Thursday.  The White House staff appeared grim as they awaited the arrival of Mr. Trump, but there was no negativity in the demeanour of President Obama. 

Many may be wondering if the world will become a more dangerous place because of this election result.  Surely, that should be motivation for us to make our little island of Jamaica less dangerous and more self-reliant.

Friday, November 18, 2016


News Release from the Press Association of Jamaica

November 16, 2016: National Journalism Week kicks off with the traditional church service, which this year is being held at Swallowfield Chapel on Sunday, November 20, at 10.45 am.

The overall theme for this year's Journalism Week, which will be celebrated from Sunday November 20 to Saturday November 26, 2016, is "Media Ethics and Modern Media".

"The church service has been a very important feature of Journalism Week over the years," says PAJ President Dionne Jackson Miller.

"We know all too well the importance of putting God first in everything that we do. That is part of the reason we continue to use this occasion to ask for God's continued guidance," Jackson Miller explains.

The church service will be followed by Monday's Forum and Panel Discussion, which is open to members of the public. This year's topic "Grief Porn': Journalism ethics in the media coverage of mourning" will focus on the globally significant issue of how media covers traumatic events. The forum will take place on Monday November 21 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, starting at 6pm. The US Embassy is partnering with the PAJ for this event.
The main speaker for the forum will be former veteran editor Kevin Z. Smith, deputy director of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism. Smith is a former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists in the USA, and has been chairman of the group's Ethics Committee since 2010.

The forum will also feature local media professionals such as CVM TV's Managing Editor Irvin Forbes, Senior Gleaner reporter Erica Virtue, and Assistant Executive Director of the Broadcasting Commission Karlene Salmon.


"A Free Press, Oxygen of Democracy"

Saturday, November 12, 2016


HOMILY FOR THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY ( C ) by Archbishop Emeritus Donald Reece O.J.

Texts: Mal. 4: 1-2; 2 Thess. 3: 7-12; Luke 21: 5-9

Yesterday is gone, never to return! Tomorrow is yet to come; it may never come!  What's left for us?  The NOW moment!  That's all we can celebrate, the NOW moment! Would that we could be consciously focused to enjoy the NOW moment!   For that reason, the Apostle Paul writes: "Scripture says: 'At the favourable time I listened to you, on the day of salvation I helped you. Now is the favourable/acceptable time; this is the day of salvation'" [2 Cor. 6:2].  Psalm 95 also warns us: "Oh, if today [i.e., NOW] you hear his voice, harden not your hearts" [v. 7b].

For those who try to follow Christ faithfully—not just Christian by name, but in mindset and outlook—living the NOW moment is to be consciously aware of living life to the full.  Jesus tells us: "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full (or more abundantly)" [John10:10]. Therefore, we must view the NOW moment as the means of communicating to us the fullness of life which is eternal, a life with God.  Consequently, the components of the NOW moment would be thanksgiving or gratitude, repentance and prayer, perfect submission, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

My dear friends in Christ, when we try to live the NOW moment we begin to live life to the fullest.  We recognize the value of persons which we never saw before.  Like St. Francis we observe created things as we have never observed them before. As a consequence, our lives are enriched.  We live relational lives, other persons lives matter, the environment is cared for, and we see consequences to our actions.  The heart of this conversion is precisely this: God is in every moment of life. Remember what St. Paul reminded the Athenians: "In him (God) we live and move and have our being" [Acts 17:28]. Yes, God speaks to us in the NOW moment of our existence, for in Him we live this very moment.  And every subsequent moment is a NOW moment when we are consciously aware that it is in God, through His providential power, mercy and care that we "live and move and have our being."

It is within that context, fellow saints of God, that we look at the Readings of today's liturgy. Malachi sketches for us a people who have returned from exile, but who fail to live up to the covenant which requires righteous living in respect to God in terms of reverence, worship and humility.  Also lacking was the requisite just behavior in their relationship with neighbor in terms of goodness, just practices and charity. In short, the people have become arrogant. Malachi prophesies that the terrible day of the Lord will surely come to destroy those who have departed from God's law.  For those who "fear" (reverence) God, the day of the Lord will bring healing and deliverance.  Listen to what the prophet says, "Then once more you shall distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him" [Mal. 3: 18].  In other words, for those who live the NOW moment in serving God faithfully, there ought to be no fear and trembling.

The Gospel speaks to us of the destruction of the Temple and the devastation and persecution that will come to test Christians who faithfully follow Jesus.  The Saviour asks for calm and assures his people that they must rely on Him.   He says:

They will manhandle and persecute you…bringing you to trial before kings and governors, all because of my name. You will be brought to give witness on account of it. I bid you resolve not to worry about your defense beforehand, for I will give you words and a wisdom which none of your adversaries can take exception or contradict… By patient endurance you will save your lives."

I draw your attention to a particular line: "I bid you resolve not to worry about your defense beforehand."  This is a reminder to live the NOW moment, and not to worry "beforehand," for Christ and His Spirit are in the present moment to give strength and wisdom, if we but "listen to his voice and harden not our hearts."  Living in today's world may not result in actual physical persecution; rather, there can be psychological and verbal persecution in the home, at the work place and even in Church because of jealousy and envy.  With all of that you and I, dear friends in Christ, are called to live the NOW moment—to recognize God's mysterious working somehow, for "in Him we live and move and have our being." 

I propose to you that a conscious appreciation of the NOW moment in our lives will make us stand firm in faith during terrible or unfortunate occurrences that must accompany our human condition. This conscious living of the NOW moment brings about conversion of lifestyle. We may not experience what the Jews experienced in the destruction of their well-adorned Temple as foretold by Jesus—and which took place in the year 70 A.D—but there may well be a similar destruction of something we hold dear and can't seem to be without, or the loss of someone close to us, who was our significant other.  Whenever aspects of life crumble, do we forever live in the past to the extent that we cannot live life fully in this present moment?  Can we, people of faith, accept or cope with such unfortunate occurrences that we can say with Job: "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord!"?

The NOW moment, be it fortunate or unfortunate, has within it something of the divine.  Only people of faith can recognize that special "something" because they listen not only with their ears, but also with their hearts that seek to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind, and to love neighbor as themselves.  That's the bottom line of each and every moment of a Christian's life.  When that happens, you know that you are living the NOW moment.  Perhaps this is what St. Theresa of the Child Jesus meant when she used the term, "Sacrament of the moment," by doing all for Jesus out of love.

In conclusion, I leave with you a simple story of a young teenager living the NOW moment that drives away fear of what might happen.  Dominic Savio, along with his classmates were playing during the scheduled recess period. The question was asked: "If the Lord were to come to judge the world in another five minutes, what would you do?" One by one his classmates gave their individual answers: "I'd rush to the Chaoel and pray before the Blessed Sacrament;"  "I would kneel down and make an Act of Contrition to tell God how sorry I am for having sinned;" I would start praying the Rosary." Then it was Dominic's turn.  He said, "I would keep on playing!" Dominic was living the NOW moment of his life, which was to play.  It was the will of God for him to play, and in doing the will of God, there was nothing to fear. No wonder he became a Saint!

Would that you and I could grasp fully the beauty of the NOW moment, to live life fully in the Presence of God, every moment of the day, doing what our vocation demands of us: family members talking lovingly to one another; parents being more caring and loving to their children; children being more obedient to their parents and loving towards their siblings; employers being just to employees and treating them as brothers and sisters in Christ; employees not looking for short-cuts in doing their job, but doing it with pride to the best of their ability; pastors being sensitive to their parishioners; parishioners coming to Mass every Sunday on time so as to be truly recollected for the celebration of the miraculous Paschal Mystery; politicians, police, lawyers and business moguls shunning all manner of corruption—all being faithful to their calling and living the NOW moment! Then, fellow saints in Christ, we would be on the path of genuine sainthood to which we are all called through the NOW moment.

Let's not worry unnecessarily, as some do and get ulcers and cancer in the process, about the "Day of the Lord!" Rather, live each day fully as faithful people who are God-conscious and Jesus-centred, for the Lord is revealing Himself at every moment of the day.  That, my dear friends in Christ, is living fully the NOW moment for the greater honour and glory of God!

  +Donald J. Reece
  13 November 2016

Jamaica adopts “decent work” convention

Members of Jamaica Household Workers Union were joined by supporters from UN Women for their celebration of the adoption of the ILO Decent Work Convention 189
Excerpt from Observer column published Nov 7, 2016
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Last Wednesday morning Shirley Price, Founder & President of the Jamaica Household Workers Union led a jubilant band of members and supporters at a victory march around Emancipation Park, celebrating the announcement of Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the United Nations in September that Jamaica would be a signatory to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 189, also known as the Decent Work Convention for Household Workers. 
Among the distinguished participants were Hon. Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment & Sport; Executive Director of the UN Women, Madame Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Regional Director, Ms. Luiza Carvalho and Jamaica’s own Pat Francis, lead coordinator of the United Nations secretary general's high-level panel on Women's Economic Empowerment.

It has been a long road for Shirley Price and this column has been supporting her valiant efforts.  ILO Convention 189 details the rights of domestic workers who have far too long, been disrespected and abused.  We can be proud that there are Labour Laws in Jamaica which provides some level of protection but the implementation of this convention will uphold the rights of the nearly 60,000 household workers in Jamaica.  Here are some of the imperatives of signatories to ILO C189.
-         freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining
-         Each Member shall take measures to ensure that domestic workers enjoy effective protection against all forms of abuse, harassment and violence.
-         Each Member shall take measures to ensure that domestic workers, like workers generally, enjoy fair terms of employment as well as decent working conditions and, if they reside in the household, decent living conditions that respect their privacy.
- Each Member shall take measures to ensure that domestic workers are informed of their terms and conditions of employment in an appropriate, verifiable and easily understandable manner and preferably, where possible, through written contracts in accordance with national laws, regulations or collective agreements.  in particular. This includes: normal hours of work; paid annual leave, and daily and weekly rest periods; the provision of food and accommodation, if applicable

US Elections – the world holds its breath

This column was published on Monday, November 7 - the next day, Donald Trump won the US Presidential Elections. 

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

At the time of writing this column, the polls reveal that the Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump race for the US Presidential candidacy has tightened, with the ABC/Washington Post poll giving Secretary Clinton a three-point lead. As we review the history of the two candidates, we are puzzled that Mr. Trump surpassed his Republican rivals – such men of note as Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida and Governor of Ohio, John Kasich to emerge as the candidate.  We believe that Hillary Clinton was the obvious choice for the Democratic Party –  Michelle Obama has joined her on the campaign trail, declaring that she is the most qualified person to have ever aspired to the US presidency, emphasising, “Yes – more than Barack, more than Bill.”

How then did Mr. Trump emerge as the Republican candidate? Let us remember that the media plays a very important role in creating our role models and forming our opinions.  In his younger days, Trump had movie-star looks and in his more mature days he made himself into a television star by creating “The Apprentice” series. 

“The Apprentice” had an avid audience and so he made a lasting impression              particularly on perhaps a less intellectual segment of the population who would have spent more time in front of the tube and less time reading. 

Add this to the loss of jobs among less-educated white folks in certain states and the increasing diversity of the American population which perhaps has awakened latent racism.  From social media, we learned that there was widespread resentment towards the Obamas among folks who could not countenance a black family in the White House. 

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has pointed out that a prominent African-American face on the Trump stage is promoting his own cult, actually -, as Mr. Trump’s audiences are largely the white working-class.  Despite the Access Hollywood video and the many women who have come forward accusing Trump of sexual harassment, he remains firmly in the race -  the white male leader whom we are acculturated to accept unconditionally.

Like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton would make history if she is elected President.  Indeed, she has already made history as the first woman Presidential candidate.

However, as the French say whenever there is an issue, “cherchez la femme”.  This means that regardless of the issue, people are always looking for a woman to blame.  Despite her admission that she made a mistake in using her personal email for classified correspondence, some refuse to forgive, while Mr. Trump can get away with his shocking behaviour on camera and some very disturbing allegations of sexual harassment. It seems a woman needs to be on the path to sainthood to be accepted as a leader, regardless of her phenomenal achievements. The international community may be impressed that she is so experienced, articulate and has been an advocate for children from her very early years.  Such is the trial of women the world over, as we still hammer at that glass ceiling.

Tomorrow we will learn whether the people have decided to choose the movie-star over the star for advocacy and service to country.  In a democracy one must respect the will of the people and in making their choice, the US electorate will signal to the world their priorities or their prejudices.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A day of tragedy, a call to action

Jamaica Observer column published MON 31 October 2016
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Nicholas Francis
A manager in my office has had to be comforting her son, classmate of 14-year-old Jamaica College student Nicholas Francis who was stabbed to death last Wednesday on a bus by a thieving thug.  Not only did he stab this defenceless child but he pushed him off the bus, breaking his arm.  In a news report, we heard that Nicholas’ mother stood grieving over the body of her dead son and begging God to wake him up. 

A few hours after Nicholas' horrific demise, Jamaica College graduate, Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson, was being inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, after being honoured earlier this month by the American Friends of Jamaica in New York City. Such are the heights that our children can reach... If they are allowed to live to get there. 

Aware of the challenges to the safety and survival of this new generation, Butch Hendrickson declared to his audience, “Martin Luther King so eloquently put it: 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.'  Let us commit to become passionately engaged...We the People..The power of We  --- A magical force!!”

He continued, “And, with this formidable collaboration of private and public sectors, let us seize these opportune moments to bring to a decisive end the politics of poverty that for far too long have gripped our boldest intentions in a relentless stranglehold. It is time, ladies and gentlemen, to formulate policies that will release us all to create opportunities for wealth and prosperity. We cannot and must not squander the lives of another generation of Jamaicans.”

Over recent months we have heard some of the most heart-breaking reports of children whose lives have been taken by these monsters.  We remember visiting with the family of toddler Demario Whyte who was shot execution style on Luke Lane in downtown Kingston. A few weeks ago, three children were among the five killed in the March Pen massacre.

These evil doers are the spawn of a cynical set of power brokers, political and otherwise who have unleashed cruelty on our beloved Jamaica. Every time a parent now sees off his or her child to school, the painful fact of Nicholas Francis’ death must now strike terror in their hearts.

Therefore, let us make it clear to our political leaders on both sides, our leaders in the public and private sectors, church and civil society: we have fallen very short of our duty to our country and our people.

In a conversation with a fellow medium business owner this week, we shared the long hours, the tough audits, the punitive taxes that we must pay, in order to stay in business and the snail’s pace of public organizations to address our nation’s problems. 

Another JC graduate, Dr Lucien Jones, had given a lecture at a seminar a few days before titled ‘Healthy Church: Healthy Nation’. He spoke on ' Decisive Issues facing Christians’.  He noted that in 1970, there were 152 homicides and that this rose to a record 1,683 in 2009. He quoted a famous theologian John Stott: "whenever a society goes bad, it is not the fault of the society, but we Christians who are called to be ' salt and light'.”

Dr Jones noted, “Yes, marches and demonstrations, and policy initiatives, and police actions, and interventions by Civil Society, and prayers by the Church, even fasting have sessions, all have a role to play in rescuing our country. But ultimately it all depends on our obedience to the God.” 

He challenged us to make the right choices in our lives, “for only God can, in Christ, “extend peace to us like a river", in a broken and troubled world in which Nicholas Francis lived and died. Way too soon!”

Friday, November 4, 2016

Kudos Dr Donovan Calder

One of the proud moments at last month's National Honours Ceremony, was to see Dr Donovan 'Danny' Calder being conferred with the Order of Distinction - Commander Class. 

This brilliant, humble ophthalmologist and entrepreneur has made his family, friends and colleagues proud, witnessed by the large turnout at his celebration at the Jamaica Pegasus.

As he traced his journey from Allman Town to his comfortable St. Andrew environs, he told us of those days when his family shared premises with several others, who though poor took pride in decent family life, Godliness and cleanliness. 

"Poverty is not squalor," he reminded us as he described the care the residents took in keeping their surroundings orderly, and their enduring mutual support.

The example of his parents is mirrored in the strong family he and his inspiring wife Diane have raised.  They run his business together, famous for the long waits of his patients who keep returning because once they get into his office, they become the only patient in the world for this gifted doctor. 

Congratulations Danny and Diane!