by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Jamaica Observer column published Monday 18 September 2017
Exhausted from endless reports of violence, Jamaica was energized by the news of the brave Tremayne Brown who jumped into the Trench Town Gully to save young Renaldo Reynolds. We understand from the Jamaica Observer report by Racquel Porter, that Tremayne’s father Stanford Brown is an elder in his Church. It must have been his godly upbringing that helped him to find strength from the prayers of Renaldo when he felt he could go no more.
What are families and the society doing to nurture Tremayne’s life-saving courage in their own children? Because of his heroism, Tremayne did not save only the life of Renaldo Reynolds – he also saved his own. The returning migrant, deported from the UK six months ago could only find casual labour at Boys Town. Now his bravery has brought him offers of jobs and financial assistance, as well as a soon-to-be-bestowed National Honour.
Tremayne’s example of bravery should remind wrong-doers that they also have the ability to change their lives for the better. When I read that after the ZOSO exercise in Mount Salem, St James, scammers were now running like cowards to other parishes, I recalled the words of the late Professor Barry Chevannes.
“You are human, not animals,” Prof Barry asked me to write in my column published back in 2005. “You have the power of choice. You are not a fly that must breed in the garbage – you can remove yourself from the garbage. Just as you choose to kill, you can choose, not to kill. You have a human will – you are not programmed to kill.”
We can add – you are not programmed to lie and steal, scam away the livelihood of the elderly and then turn your guns on those who try to steer you away from your wrongs. Reports are that these scammers are lighting their spliffs with US dollar bills and washing their cars with champagne. This, while missionaries of various churches are sacrificing their lives to care for the poor and abandoned in Jamaica. Will these criminals, some well-educated, wake up to the stupidity of evil?
We are reminding those who have turned to a life of crime that you are human, you have the choice of pulling yourself out of the garbage. You can save yourselves, instead of running like rats from parish to parish, sleeping with one eye open, and ruining the lives of your own children.
The political representatives of both parties, sworn to serve the people of Jamaica, know more than most of us of the programmes available to help our youth out of the desperation that makes them easy prey for gangs. Programmes are offered by the Social Development Commission, HEART-NTA, the National Youth Service, PATH. There are myriad non-governmental and corporate programmes that offer scholarships, funding and mentoring for businesses start-ups.
Our 63 MPs and over 200 Parish Councillors could guide their constituents in making applications for such programmes. As I write, I know that there is a multi-million Queen’s Young Leaders fund for applicants who are involved in outreach in vulnerable communities. Could our representatives set up desks to assist youngsters to apply for these funds? In fact, it would protect the very MPs from being viewed as community ATMs. Our churches could establish such a service also, again sparing their slim budgets while opening up opportunities for needy members.
The reason that the Tremayne Brown story has remained in our headlines for so long, is because Jamaica, the home of ‘One Love, One Heart’ is ready to reclaim this as our way of life. Even as we support ZOSO, we are hoping that before criminals lose their lives in shootouts, they will be persuaded to give themselves up, pay the price for their crimes and free their hearts and their families from the terror of their depraved existence.
Climate Change – deadly reality
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have taken lives and left families in poverty and suffering. As we see the plight of our neighbours, Cuba, the British and US Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos and Southern states of the US, it is clear that global warming is not a myth, but a deadly reality. Reports of the deaths of nine residents in what should have been a safe haven, a Florida nursing home, will no doubt press the current US administration to agree to play its part as a signatory to the Paris Agreement.
After participating in an international conference on the environment in Copenhagen in December 2009, Professor Anthony Chen and Ambassador Anthony Hill wrote their ‘Copenhagen Letter’ which was published in the Jamaica Observer.
They wrote: “Make no bones about it: the greenhouse gases emitted by releasing energy from the fossil fuels of oil and gas, the pressure on the declining soil and water resources, the demand for food, minerals and fossil fuels, the pollution of the atmosphere are well beyond the equilibrium-carrying capacity of the earth.”
“In Jamaica,” they continued, “we face myriad threats ranging from sea level rise and droughts to increased incidence of diseases. These threats will increase in proportion to the increase in global warming which in turn depends on the increase in quantity of greenhouse gases emitted by man-made activity. The greatest harm will come to the poor and underprivileged who are less able to adapt to these threats.”
They identified “power generation across the national grid and its consumption by major industrial users” that could make the greatest impact if a low carbon-strategy were implemented and warned, “Climate change with its immense uncertainties and risks ‘threaten human health, disrupt economic activity, damage natural ecosystems irreversibly, and even (in worst-case scenarios) lead to mass migration, food shortage, and other global humanitarian crises’.”
If the environmental initiatives of several local corporations and schools became the norm, rather than the exception, perhaps we would have saved those metres of beach that have been lost at Hellshire and other parts of our coastline.
It is not too late to take Professor Chen’s and Ambassador Hill’s research on board, but the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.
VPA Peace Day this Thursday
Dr Elizabeth Ward, Chairman of the Board of the Violence Prevention Alliance says the organisation will be observing Peace Day this Thursday, September 21 with activities in various schools. We hope that educators throughout Jamaica will visit the Violence Prevention Alliance Facebook page and share their ideas with their students.
CCRP Living Legacy Awards
It has been announced that 11 Jamaicans from various walks of life will be honoured at the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) Living Legacy Awards event later this month. They are: Nurse Marie Clemetson, Noel Dexter, Michael Fennell, Leonie Forbes, Cecile Jarrett, Norman Jarrett, Horace Levy, Professor Mervyn Morris, Major General (Ret’d) Robert Neish, Clembert N Powell and Patricia ‘Patsy’ Ricketts. Congratulations!