'Butch' Stewart remembers Sameer Younis as an extraordinary businessman, patriot, friend

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

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TODAY I bid farewell to Sameer Younis, OJ, an extraordinary businessman, a lover of his country, and a man I was proud to call my friend.
Sameer and I shared not only a good game of dominoes, but a similar history as a salesman in our early careers. The travels through the length and breadth of Jamaica, going through small, remote hillside villages and major towns alike, exposed us to the conditions in which ordinary people lived.
He never forgot to put people at the centre of his life, and so philanthropy and community service became synonymous with the name Sameer Younis. Indeed, he spent a lifetime doing good.
He is remembered for his constant refrain: “I don't give a man a fish,” I teach him to fish”, because it was his firm belief that the best way to help people was to empower them to help themselves.
Sameer's establishment of his now-famous Fabric de Younis chain of stores almost 50 years ago launched his name among the creative, hard-working and successful businessmen who would make a sterling and lasting contribution to the development of Jamaica.
It was not by chance that he became the first person to have held the job as president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce in 1986, and president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association in 1996, which heralded a new era of business co-operation for the common good.
It was a delight to watch Sameer design and implement project after project to help lift Jamaica to greater heights.
I especially remember his 'Clean As A Whistle' campaign in Kingston and St Andrew; his People Against Road Accidents; his Junior Achievement Programme in schools; and his Inner-City Development Committee.
At one stage he had 600 moneymaking projects going, including poultry-rearing, blockmaking, and juice manufacturing within inner-city communities. I was particularly impressed to see formerly politically warring gang members sitting together in its leadership training programmes.
The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Civic Affairs Committee, which bore the stamp of Sameer Younis, created a Helping Hands Programme to get mentally ill people off the streets, in which the centrepiece was the refurbishment of the psychiatric wards at the Bellevue Hospital, including the the addition of beds and improving sanitation to encourage inmates to stay in.
No one who knew Sameer can forget his deep and heartfelt concern for improved family life in Jamaica, and his long campaign to reduce teenage pregnancies and promote stable families.
Jamaica has lost a great son, but his invaluable work will live on long after him. May his soul rest in peace.
I wish to express my condolence to Leila, his loving and supportive wife of many years, his children, other family members, friends, and associates.

Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, OJ, CD, Hon LLD
Chairman of the Sandals and ATL groups of companies


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