Thursday, February 23, 2017

Remembering Mark Clarke, STGC Track Star

Tribute to Mark Clarke, Class '73… Sprint Star of the Early 1970's 

by Dr Lloyd Tenn

It is with great sadness that we learnt lately of the passing of Mark Clarke, STGC's sprint star of the early 1970's.

In an era where Kingston College and Camperdown High dominated the Track and Field High School Championships, Mark was a stand out as an outsider not coming from these two dominant track schools. With his 'speed' partner Peter Gooden also from the Class of 1973, they dominated the Class II hurdles, 200m and 400m races. In the 1973 Champs, Mark won the 110 m Hurdles in record time, 2nd in the 200m while Peter won the 200m and 400m. STGC placed 6th in the Championship that year.

Mark was tall, slim but strong and was unusual in that he was one of the few good caucasian sprinters in Jamaican high school. A charmer, he was very friendly and well-liked by his peers.

He won a track scholarship to Howard University which did not work out and returned to Jamaica to pursue a science degree at UWI. Eventually, he migrated to the USA, settling in Huston, Texas.

He apparently developed heart issues a few years ago and returned to Jamaica in 2016. He sought medical treatment in Cuba and he underwent cardiac surgery there. He returned to Jamaica but died of complications from the surgery early in 2016.

So, we have lost another great Georgian.

We pray for his family.

May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed rest-in-peace.

 Dr Lloyd Tenn

STGC Photography


Friday, February 17, 2017

A case of life and death – literally

Excerpt - Observer column published 13 FEB 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Women and men from all walks of life gathered with purpose last Tuesday evening to plan and act with urgency as we grieved the tragic loss of an alarming number of women and children. There is a term “collective grief” which is said to permeate a community or country after repeated incidents of tragedy and trauma. Jamaica is in that state.  This ‘collective grief’ has the potential to immobilise us, even as we strive for the objectives of the Economic Growth Council, five percent growth in four years. 

Therese Turner-Jones, Caribbean representative for the IDB has emphasised continuously the serious effect that crime has been having on Jamaica’s economy.  The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently released a four-year study (2010-2014) of 17 countries titled, The Costs of Crime and Violence: New Evidence and Insights in Latin America and the Caribbean”. 

Ana Maria Rodriguez-Ortiz, the IDB's manager institutions for development, noted that Jamaica has the fourth highest impact, losing 3.99 percent of GDP due to crime.  However, crime expert Professor Anthony Clayton says that the indirect cost of crime nearly doubles that percentage.

In a recent report, he notes, "The indirect costs included investments that might have come to this country but didn't because of concerns about crime and corruption. Then there's the loss of human capital - we lose a lot of our skilled people migrating to other jurisdictions. It (crime) has an effect on people's propensity to save and invest in Jamaica. People are less likely to invest if they think that they're going to become the victims of extortion… When you take into account these other costs, then I believe from work that we've done, that you're looking at somewhere just over seven per cent of GDP."

Even as we applaud the work of the Economic Growth Council and the encouraging statistics from Chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) Keith Duncan, we will not be able to make the projected strides without serious funding of programmes to end violence against women and children.  It was disheartening to hear a woman from the Jamaica Association of Transport Owners and Operators (JATOO) defending the heavy tint on taxis, which may be hiding a multitude of sins. Her argument:  the heat as taxi drivers wait for passengers.  Please lady, what is a little heat compared to the brutal murder and rape of your people?
Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ message on his Facebook page on Friday makes it clear: “By Monday February 13th, Public Passenger Vehicles in particular Registered Taxis must remove their window tints. It is already the law!  #SaferJamaica  #ProtectOurWomen  #ProtectOurChildren
The Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), a branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, has identified some of the top abusers as pastors, teachers and police officers.  There are also allegations on social media that this group may include politicians. This is a sad commentary on those to whom our country should look for leadership, protection and ethical behaviour.  This column is calling on the decent members of these groups to create stricter screening and disciplinary actions against those who are sullying their good name. They should be warned that with the growth of social media, evil deeds are going to be exposed sooner or later.
It is alleged that some of the young women who have been abducted and killed may have been used as couriers for scammers whose identities had become known, and that they may have been forced to play this role because of threats to their families. 

Recommendations from 51 Percent Coalition
A release on last week’s meeting from the 51 Percent Coalition stated these pointed recommendations:
-  allocation of funds for a shelter for abused women in every parish by the end of 2017;
-  influencing the Prime Minister, as head of the Social Partnership, to “step up and lead” on the issue;
 - strengthened restorative justice and psychological support for victims;
 - working with youth (counselling and mentoring);
 - strengthened community policing and special training for police;
 - “targeted activism” in schools, communities and the workplace;
 -  and using critical “touch points” such as health services for speedier interventions.”

The statement continued: “Moderated by Indi McLymont Lafayette, the meeting began with a minute’s silence for the victims and survivors of gender-based violence. Head of the Association of Women’s Organizations (AWOJA) Dr. Hermione McKenzie spoke on the dangers of trafficking in women and girls and Maria Carla Gullotta of Stand Up for Jamaica emphasized that sexual abuse is a key factor in so-called “uncontrollable” girls who find themselves in conflict with the law. Glenroy Murray of WE-Change spoke on the Sexual Offences Act, currently under review by a Parliamentary Committee. Patricia Donald Phillips brought a strong statement from women Church leaders.”

We understand that there is a great deal of fear on the part of witnesses, so we need to study the best practices of countries who have successfully tackled these problems so that our Witness Protection System gives confidence to those who want to step forward.  We urge our leaders in every sphere of life to put in the checks and balances that are required for us as a nation to earn the respect of the international community. 

The buck stops at Jamaica House.  It stops there because these are the individuals who campaigned to lead our country and who must now lead the change to transform Jamaica into the safe and secure place that it can be. Members of the Partnership for Transformation Committee are well positioned; there can be no napping because this is literally a case of life and death.

Aloun Assamba gives 2017 Cobb Lecture

Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column published 6th Feb 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Ambassador Aloun Assamba

This year’s Lecture in the Cobb series during the UWI Research Days held earlier this month, was presented by Ambassador Aloun Assamba, attorney-at-law, CEO of COK-Sodality Credit Union, former High Commissioner, former government Minister and former Member of Parliament.  

The enlightening lecture series was created and sponsored by Ambassadors Sue and Charles Cobb, for in-depth exploration of issues that affect Jamaica’s development. US Ambassador Luis Moreno disclosed at the event, that Ambassador Sue Cobb is so highly respected by the US State Department that an award was created in her name to recognize outstanding US Ambassadors worldwide. During her tour of duty here in Jamaica, Ambassador Cobb founded Jamaica’s Women’s Leadership Initiative and with her family, sponsors the scholarship for rural students.

Ambassador Assamba’s topic was “Education and Healthcare: The Equitable Imperative for Jamaica”.  She contrasted the challenges faced by Jamaica’s lower income earners to those who could afford private medical assistance. For example, a poor person may have to wait all day, just to secure an appointment to see a specialist. In education, she noted that the removal of auxiliary fees had negatively affected the running of schools in which under-privileged children have unequal access to some areas of learning. She said children in deep rural areas have the additional challenge of transportation, resulting in poor attendance. 

Similarly, in the health system she said that the abolition of user fees is hobbling our medical services.  She referred to an incident where an expatriate stayed in the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital for six weeks and on being discharged, asked for his bill. He was told that the hospital had no facility to produce one. 

Ambassador Assamba declared that she was not speaking from any political platform. “Politicians like to talk about free things,” she said, “but I have been there and done that and I have moved on.”  She says that the reinstatement of realistic user fees will level the playing field and called for the data to be gathered via surveys and focus groups to bring a change in the planning for health and education.

Research to find cure for national ills

Excerpt from Observer column published  6 FEB 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

The UWI Research days last week gave us myriad examples of the power of research to improve our lives.  In the areas of medicine, agricultural science, social and environmental research, we can see its impact, and the benefits it would offer to Jamaica’s public sector transformation process. 

At a ‘Policy Research Impact Forum’, Rickert Allen, Senior General Manager at NCB said that his company underwent radical transformation since 2001, turning to research to develop a strategy that would take the once-failing bank to its number one position in Jamaica today. 

“There is a lot of research taking place, but no one is reading it,” said Mona Business lecturer Dr. Kadawame Knife. Interestingly, he noted that although there was not a strong research culture in Jamaica, the Jamaica Constabulary Force was one of the organizations that uses this resource to inform their strategy. I recall a group of young men on Orange Street in downtown Kingston making Clarke’s shoes knock-offs being rounded up, luckily by officers who had been trained in community policing. Instead of locking them up, the policemen recognised their talent and took them to the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) for guidance.  With the help of JBDC and the Digicel Foundation, they are on their way to becoming young entrepreneurs, and Dr Knife who has been their mentor, can show you the excellent shoes they made for him.

In a spirited contribution, Prof. Dale Webber said that it was the in depth environmental research of the Kingston Harbour done by himself, his wife, Prof. Mona Webber and 25 graduate students that resulted in its rehabilitation.  Their study showed that the bacterial content of the harbour’s water was 250% above the accepted level, resulting in a stop to careless sewage disposal and the construction of the Soapberry facility. Dr. Webber said that his team’s research on the Kingston Harbour was so significant, that an entire bulletin of the Marine Science publication was dedicated to their findings.
Chairman of the UWI Research Days Committee, Professor Denise Eldemire Shearer harks back to a ‘policy wall’ her Mona Wellness Centre created years ago. It was out of this that the life-saving Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) was developed.

We should therefore support the call of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) to co-operate with their personnel who will be interviewing over 4000 families to establish their level of spend, and other key social and financial indicators.  It is only by gathering and analysing this data that planning for Poverty Alleviation Through Health and Education (PATH), low income housing, health and education can produce the results we so dearly want.

We must be clear that this rash of murders and crime cannot end with the treatment of symptoms, but with the use of strategic, energetic social reform to cure this horrible national condition.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

51% Coalition’s Meeting of the Minds Offer Strong Recommendations on Fighting Violence

Participants in the discussion are resolute! 

51% Coalition

February 9, 2017
51% Coalition's Meeting of the Minds Offer Strong Recommendations on Fighting Violence Against Women and Children

"We must use the word 'justice' in every conversation!" declared 51% Coalition member Hilary Nicholson of WMW Jamaica during an energetic "Meeting of the Minds" on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at the Jamaica Suite, Phoenix Central in Kingston. 

Over 70 women and men packed the room and after over two hours of passionate discussion came up with some strong recommendations including:
-  allocation of funds for a shelter for abused women in every parish by the end of 2017; 
-  influencing the Prime Minister, as head of the Social Partnership, to "step up and lead"   on the issue;
 - strengthened restorative justice and psychological support for victims; 
 - working with youth (counseling and mentoring);
 - strengthened community policing and special training for police;
 - "targeted activism" in schools, communities and the workplace; 
 -  and using critical "touch points" such as health services for speedier interventions.

Moderated by Indi McLymont Lafayette, the meeting began with a minute's silence for the victims and survivors of gender-based violence. 

Head of the Association of Women's Organizations (AWOJA) Dr. Hermione McKenzie spoke on the dangers of trafficking in women and girls and Maria Carla Gullotta of Stand Up for Jamaica emphasized that sexual abuse is a key factor in so-called "uncontrollable" girls who find themselves in conflict with the law. Glenroy Murray of WE-Change spoke on the Sexual Offences Act, currently under review by a Parliamentary Committee. Patricia Donald Phillips brought a strong statement from women Church leaders.

Groups represented at the meeting included 51%Coalition member organizations WMW- Jamaica; Panos Caribbean; Institute of Gender & Development Studies/UWI; WE-Change; AWOJA; Women's Resource and Outreach Centre and Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers; as well as Children First, Bureau of Gender Affairs, Kiwanis Club of New Kingston, The Positive Organization, the Women Entrepreneurs Network of the Caribbean, Jamaicans for Justice, Girl Guides' Association, Women's Centre Foundation, Jamaica Community of Positive Women, 1 Billion Rising-Ja, Her Flow, Mothers of Jamaica, Great People Solutions, YWCA  Stand Up for Jamaica and the National Family Planning Board.

Release prepared by 51 Percent Coalition

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Nobody’s business but their own?

Yesterday, a Federal Judge in Seattle, Washington ruled that the Executive Order restricting immigration from seven countries was unconstitutional ... it has been temporarily lifted.

Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column for MON 30 January 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

The first seven days of the Trump presidency has been marked by the biggest one-day global protest in history, an executive order to install a disputed oil pipeline, plans to withhold Federal funding for ‘sanctuary cities’, and the detention of two Iraqi men at JFK airport after the US Government introduced a system of ‘extreme vetting’.

The Washington Post reports, “One of the Iraqi men detained at JFK is Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, 33, who holds a visa that allowed him to join his wife and young child in Texas … The other detainee is Hameed Khalid Darweesh, 53, who had worked as a contractor for the U.S. government in Iraq for about a decade, including as an interpreter for the Army. He and his wife and three children had spent more than two years securing a special immigrant visa, granted to Iraqis who assisted U.S. military forces.”
The Jamaican folk song ‘Nobody’s business but my own’ may persuade us to stay silent, but then there is also another song that reminds us, “No man is an island/ No man stands alone/Each man’s joy is joy to me/Each man’s grief is my own.”
Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh showed his humanity as he spoke out against the threat to cut funds to US ‘sanctuary cities’.  Such cities are defined as those “that follow certain procedures that shelters illegal immigrants. These procedures can be by law (de jure) or they can be by action (de facto).”
NBC News quoted Mayor Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants: "I want to say directly to anyone who feels threatened today, or vulnerable: You are safe in Boston. We will do everything lawful in our power to protect you. If necessary, we will use City Hall itself to shelter and protect anyone who's targeted unjustly."

While President Trump reaffirms his support of Christians, may he also remember the response of Christ, when He was asked, “Who is my neighbour?”  Jesus’ parable of the Samaritan who stops to rescue someone foreign to him, makes it clear that we have a responsibility to our fellow humans, regardless of race or religion. May Mr. Trump’s spiritual advisors guide him to this realization.


Beautiful photographs from the St George's College Photo Club.. shared by STGC Old Boy Dr Lloyd Tenn


The students were given pointers with respect to taking great FLORA/ FLOWERS photos. A number of flowering plants were provided and the students were asked shoot. They were also provided with reflectors and background. 

Generally speaking, the students had some difficulty in working in the macro setting. The strong wind also posed a challenge in taking the photo.

Nevertheless, we did get some good ones which we have displayed.

Also included were a few works from recent past students.

STGC Photography Club