Friday, June 30, 2017

Whatever my ancestry, I am Jamaican first!

The Jamaica Gleaner invited me to participate in their Ancestry DNA feature - this was published this week.

As I said to the interviewer, it was an interesting exercise but the results do not affect my self-identity as I am Jamaican first and foremost!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Here's to you - the Good and the True!

Convent of Mercy 'Alpha' Academy Class of 2017



As I look out at the Sacred Heart Building I remember that rainy day when we were having a 'beret war' and suddenly there was a hush in the room - our Principal Sister Mary Bernadette had entered. She looked at us, shook her head and said, 'You know, they say the rain brings out the animal in you!' (laughter)

It is indeed a great privilege and honour to be addressing the Convent of Mercy 
“Alpha” Academy graduating class of 2017.  It is exactly fifty years since I stood on these
 grounds to receive my Alpha High School diploma from the then Bishop John McEleney. 

And now you, my dear graduands are part of this strong and beautiful tapestry which is 
Convent of Mercy “Alpha” Academy.
You carry the ‘Alpha DNA’ – you can shine out the compassion and courage of that great Jamaican woman, Justina ‘Jessie’ Ripoll, founder of Alpha. Yes, it was a Jamaican lady just like you, who founded Alpha . 
Brilliant, dynamic Principal, Mrs Kali McMorris
As history tells us, there was great suffering among the ex-slaves and many passed away leaving orphaned children.  Jessie Ripoll led the first resident, a little orphan girl, to Alpha Cottage, the site of the now Sacred Heart building on May 1, 1880.

Sr. Mary Bernadette Little’s History of Alpha “You Did It Unto Me”, describes the hardships 
that Jessie and her team faced as the population of the Alpha Children’s Home grew. 

Jessie Ripoll entered the Order of the Sisters of Mercy who arrived in 1890 to support her 
work  and later joined the order and took the name Mother Claver.  

These 40 acres were not enough to contain the zeal and passion of Jessie and the Sisters of Mercy for educating Jamaicans of every walk of life.

Sister Theresa Lowe-Ching presents
an Award to an outstanding Graduate
This zeal that took them islandwide.  So there was I, a six year 
old in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, when our ambitious 
widowed mother of humble means decided that her two eldest should go to the best school in town.  That school was run by 
none other than Alpha’s Sisters of Mercy and we were 
welcomed by Sr. Mary Veronica Doorly, yet another brilliant
 Alpha graduate who was Principal.  When my mother 
remarried and we moved to Kingston, she and our Dad 
were sure of one thing: their children would go to Alpha.  

Then there is St. Catherine High, also founded by the Sisters 
of Mercy, from which we have two distinguished graduates: none other than the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Most Hon. Andrew Holness and the Archbishop of Kingston, Most Rev. Kenneth Richards. Their dynamic Principal Sister Mary Paschal recalls four boys being sent to her office and she notiiced that one of them was young Ken Richards. "You're a good boy", 
she said. "You can go back to your classroom."  Archbishop 
Ken loves to tell that story!

How blessed we were – and YOU are -  to be schooled in an environment where the 
emphasis was not only on education but also on the responsibility we have as Christians to look out for the less fortunate. 

I know your outreach activities continue, and I congratulate Mrs. McMorris, the faculty and 
staff  - including my fellow Mercy Associate Mrs Velia Espeut - and all of you graduands for living our Gospel. Indeed, our National Pledge requires this dedication of our love and loyalty 
to our people.

Dear graduands, it is this spirit of giving, inculcated in me by my parents and my teachers at Alpha, to which I ascribe my business success.

I was working for an ad agency which sponsored an outing to the Pegasus Hotel for the National Children’s Home.  I noticed that the children were given only a sweet snack and 
asked if they could be served hamburgers.  The response was that the budget could not include it. 

Board Chairman Mrs Joyce Archibald
rewards a top Graduate
So, inspired by the Alpha motto to be “Good and True”, I went to the Marketing Manager and offered free PR Services in return for the meal.  They accepted, The Pegasus received great publicity and a few months later, they offered me my own office in their hotel in exchange for PR services.  This was how PROComm started in January 1979.

And so, the first of three messages that I ask you to take away today is that you live your National Pledge and your school motto, nurturing generosity of spirit. 

Some of you may be wondering how I can be sounding so positive when Jamaica is faced with so many challenges.
This is my second message to you:  there is power in positivity fuelled by prayer.  I will never forget when Sr. Mary Bernadette Little of blessed memory, said to our Fourth form class “ You are a powerful class and I want you to think big”.  With these words, she woke up our confidence and optimism. 

So I say to you the class of 2017, that you are a powerful class and you have been equipped to think big.  You have been moulded by your proud parents and guardians who are here witnessing your graduation and who have made countless sacrifices 
to take you to this milestone in your lives. 

If they did not think big for their children, you would not be on this stage today.  You have been prepared to step forward with the same courage and resolve that they have for you.  It is said that no one can stretch a dollar like a Jamaican mother and some of you have witnessed such miracles.

Here at Alpha, as a fifth former, I experienced the power of positivity and prayer that morning when my mother was admitted to KPH for surgery.  I had slipped out of assembly to pray 
in the Chapel and there saw my sister Frances, a sixth former also on her knees. 

Our Dad was wheelchair bound so at break-time we called home to check on him.  Lo and behold our Mother answered the phone!  At about the same time that we were on our knees right there in Christ the King Chapel, they were examining her and could not find the lump in her breast! She was home, healed and hearty!  Such is the power of prayer!

And so that brings me to my final message:  please remember the words of a wise person who said, “It is not happiness that makes you grateful, but gratitude that makes you happy”.

When we realise that education is considered a luxury for girls in some countries, there is 
much for which to be thankful.  When you consider the support group that did not give up on you, give thanks! 

Graduate Leila LaFayette
makes a presentation to
Teacher Ms Kadian Parkinson
Our Alpha class of ‘67 is planning a Reunion dance in Florida in November – we give thanks that most of us are still around – 
and that we can still dance!

Give thanks dear Graduands to that great and good God who has blessed you with this very special day in your lives.  It is in 
thanking God that we remain humble, knowing that everything we have is a gift of the Lord’s mercy. 

I close by saluting the VVIPS of today – YOU dear graduands.  Please know how much you are loved and admired. 

First you made your family proud by gaining a place at this very special school that continues to rise in the rankings of Jamaica’s top high schools. 

You have tackled the tough examinations, trained for various sporting events and attended a range of spiritual exercises as 
you participated in the building of mind, body and spirit. 
Today, as you stand here, you deserve the accolades and commendations!

In every sphere of Jamaican life, there are graduates of the
Convent of Mercy “Alpha” Academy who hold high office. 
Like them, you Convent of Mercy “Alpha” Academy Class of 2017 can make a difference 
in the future of this country. 

Our motto “Ad Verum et Bonum” – to the good and the true, is one that can take Jamaica
 out of a cloudy past and into a bright future. 

You have the blessings of the saints of Alpha, strengthening your strides and taking you to heights that you had never dreamed possible.  

My heartiest congratulations to you, your caring families and Teachers.
May God continue bless you and our beloved Alpha!
Ad Verum et Bonum – Here’s to you, The Good and The True!

Thank you so much! 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Financial Abuse of the Elderly is a sad reality

Excerpt - Address on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day - Thursday, June 15, 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin, Executive Chairman, Caribbean Community of Retired Persons
Seniors display placards asserting their rights
The Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) is joining the National Council for Senior Citizens in observing this very important day - World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, with the theme for Jamaica being, “Understand and End Financial Abuse of Older People: A Human Rights Issue”.

We in Jamaica should be resolute in addressing this serious matter as the scourge of scamming has brought suffering to many elderly in the United States of America and shame on our nation.

Here at home, financial abuse of the elderly is also taking place. We are getting distressing information only a month ago that there are heartless individuals who have attempted to trick NIS beneficiaries into giving them authorization to collect their funds and have stolen these funds from our helpless citizens.

One senior related that a friend's adult child wanted her to
move out of her room to accommodate his girlfriend!
We have been warned by representatives of the police force that there have been several fraudulent attempts to steal banking information from the elderly and only recently I heard of a heart-breaking incident where someone who was thought to be trustworthy, tricked an elderly gentleman into accompanying him to the bank and signing documents which resulted in the gentleman being left penniless having lost his entire life savings.

It is also very painful to know that even in families there are uncaring relatives who will take advantage of the kindness of their elderly while withholding humane care from them.  This is particularly disappointing in Jamaica where the elderly have been pillars of the family.  Many children have been raised and nurtured by their grandparents.  These heroic elderly Jamaicans deserve honour and protection when they can no longer fend for themselves.

We want our elderly to know that Part Five of the Maintenance Act of December 7, 2005 states “Every person who is not a minor has an obligation to the extent that the person is capable of doing so, to maintain the person's parents and grandparents who are in need of such parent - maintenance by reason of age, physical or mental infirmity or disability.”        

We urge our church and community leaders to inform their members about this Act.  We are hoping that soon we will be able to make examples of those uncaring adult children who, having been nurtured and educated by dedicated parents, have left them neglected and suffering.
Seniors stage a skit showing the disrespect they suffer at various

Jamaica has introduced some helpful programmes for our elderly. We acknowledge that the introduction of JADEP, the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme, has resulted in significant savings to older persons.

We applaud the National Council for Senior Citizens spearheaded by then Chairman of NCSC, Prof. Denise Eldemire-Shearer, for their excellent National Policy for Senior Citizens and tabled in the House of Parliament in 1997.  This is a comprehensive policy, reflecting the International Principles for Older Persons.

However, we are appealing to the authorities to revisit some of the strategies stated to provide income security for senior citizens.
These include:
·       Organize and fund foundations for rendering assistance to senior citizens with no income or to those with insufficient income.
·       Ensure availability of training opportunities and technical  advice and guidance for self-employment ventures, as well   as financial assistance to senior citizens.
·       Make available tax incentives for organizations supporting income-generating activities among senior citizens.

We would like to see HEART-NTA include courses for retirees so they can seek additional income to supplement their pensions.  Indeed, the the majority of Jamaicans have no pension plan, so it is our national budget that will suffer, if seniors are not given the opportunity to earn.  We have established a Skills Bank at CCRP to assist our members in obtaining part-time employment. 

We at the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons have been holding workshops to advise our seniors on Financial Management and the importance of using trusted investment advisors.  Jamaicans of all walks of life have access to a variety of registered financial institutions and these are the organizations on which we should depend for financial guidance.

We have seen too many of our elderly lose their hard-earned savings having been coerced by representatives of unregistered financial organizations. We are requesting of our financial organisations, that even in this age of technology, you put aside certain days or times when you can give our elderly detailed information and options and patiently guide them in making investment decisions.

We at CCRP are therefore reminding those who are approaching retirement or who are retired to seek professional guidance and to engage a trustworthy group of friends and relatives with legal guidance so that you can protect yourself, as the day may come when you are unable to speak for yourselves.

As we pause to recognize and address the suffering of those elderly who have been financially abused, this day gives us hope that we are affirming our humanity and standing up for those who are at this stage of their lives, may be unable to stand up for themselves.

As we look back on the wonderful Tribute to our Olympic Superstar Usain St. Leo Bolt recently, we should note that in his autobiography, he salutes his late grandfather, a farmer who would give him weekly supplies of fresh milk, and his grandmother, who he says, never stops praying for him when he sets out from Falmouth until he calls her to tell her that he  has arrived safely in Kingston.  Such is the nurturing and love that has given us our amazing Legend of the Track!

On the shoulders of our grandparents and parents we stand, so let us do the right thing for our seniors, and ensure that they do not suffer from financial abuse or any other kind of abuse.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Award from Business & Professional Women's Club of St Andrew

I am very grateful to the St. Andrew Business & Professional Women's Club (BPW) for presenting me with the Inaugural Mavis Watts Award as Outstanding Woman of the Year for the founding of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons - #CCRP. 

Photo shows (from left) family of BPW St. Andrew Founder Ms Watts - niece Mrs Sanguinetti (seated), grandniece Ms Judith Ramgolan, President Dr Marcia Williams, yours truly, Founding Members Mrs Gloria Langrin and  Ms Marjorie Brown (Past President). 

The event held at the Alhambra Inn last Saturday sparkled with contributions from Past Presidents Emcee Mrs Monica McNeil, Dr. Williams, Ms Beryl Ennis, Mrs Langin, Dr Lilieth Nelson and Dr Mearle Barrett. 

We were entertained by the charming DiMario McDowell, and the young duo Tamara Norman and Floyd Casanova. 

Please visit our website at to learn more about the organization and how we help Jamaicans 50+ to enjoy 'Life to the Fullest'.

We are honoured that an august body as St. Andrew BPW could recognise us in such a meaningful way.  This affirmation energises our cause. Thank you BPW!

Jean Lowrie-Chin JP MA
Executive Chairman | CCRP
Phoenix Central | 2 Phoenix Ave
Kingston 10 | JAMAICA WI
P 876 665-5025

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Remembering Captain Horace Burrell

It is hard to believe that Captain Horace Burrell who transformed the sport of football in Jamaica is no longer with us. What a mark he has made: his strong leadership of the Jamaica Football Federation took our team to the World Cup in France in 1998. He also made his 'Captain's Bakery' a household word, here and in Cayman.

Captain Burrell related to me a conversation he had with a passerby as he watched the construction of his new bakery in Cayman some years ago.

"The man asked me if I knew this Horace Burrell who was making this investment. When I responded that I was Horace Burrell, he could not hide his surprise." Horace laughed heartily.

I had the pleasure of teaching his son Romario in Sunday School - what a proud father Horace was!

In our various collaborations Horace was professional and accessible. The JFF was efficiently run under his watch. His impeccable appearance and deliberate manner of speaking give him a Garvey-like aura.

Rest in Peace Captain Horace Burrell. My condolence to his family and close friends.

Here is an excerpt from a column I wrote in the Jamaica Observer in 2013:

People like Captain Horace Burrell always make a statement - what a durable gentleman! The Captain announced the firing of his overseas staff members last week, explaining his 30-day-notice contract: "No performance. No job." Say what you want to say about Horace Burrell - he took us to France and I will always give him kudos for that shining moment in Jamaica's sporting history.