Good Shepherd Foundation a beacon of hope in Western Jamaica

Sunday, August 10, 2014

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An edited version of remarks offered by Jamaica's ambassador to the United States, Stephen Vasciannie, at a function hosted by the Good Shepherd Foundation in Washington, DC, on July 20, 2014.




...I wish to congratulate the Good Shepherd Foundation and the Partners of the Good Shepherd Jamaica on the work you are doing to assist the poor and needy, and for the serious contributions you are making to the lives and welfare of others. This is a matter of the first importance.


There is a pronounced tendency to individualism in modern societies: individualism has some virtues, for it requires each person to push him or herself to greater heights of achievement. Parents know this, and that is why we pull out the hair we have left in trying to have our children succeed academically on their own steam.


But individualism can cause some members of society to be left behind. And individualism is sometimes unsympathetic to the vulnerable, the aged, the infirm, the person in trouble with the law. In this context, it is important for us all to remember the overriding power of community spirit.


So, today, I lift my metaphorical hat to the Good Shepherd Foundation and the Partners of Good Shepherd, Jamaica, for giving life and force to community spirit. Jamaica — and in particular Western Jamaica — is a better place because of you.


Choices


In addition to its tendency to individualism, the modern world gives us many new choices. It is often said that in the field of foreign policy, small states such as Jamaica do not have the benefit of choices, confined as we are by limited financial circumstances. We are, as the political scientist may say, hamstrung by the dilemma of limited options.


But, constrained as we are, we do have choices. We can and should decide that our foreign policy and our diplomatic representation must embrace humanistic values to the fullest extent possible. And what does this mean in practice? It means that we must place the greatest emphasis in our foreign policy on the concerns of the poor and most vulnerable.


When we are called to represent our countries in international fora, we should constantly remind others that national development must include special concern for the interests of people most in need of help. Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.


In this context, the Government of Jamaica salutes the Good Shepherd Foundation and Partners of the Good Shepherd Foundation for shining a beacon of hope within Montego Bay and other communities in western Jamaica.


Helping the Weak


The Government applauds the foundation for its commitment and work in assisting the elderly, the disabled, persons with HIV/AIDS, persons in need of health care, persons in need of disaster relief assistance, and in providing assistance with educational needs.


In commending the Good Shepherd Foundation for the valuable work undertaken over the years, the Government simultaneously recognises the philanthropic commitment of the Most Reverend Archbishop Dufour. Since he established the Foundation in 1997, Archbishop Dufour has been the guiding light in the mission to provide support -- financial, physical and moral -- to needy Jamaicans.


Archbishop Dufour's work has been supported by many who share his Christian commitment, and in this regard, I wish to congratulate the Partners of Good Shepherd Jamaica Inc, for joining the mission of the foundation and for the decision to concentrate efforts on education and health-care needs.


Ms Joy Dufour has been an efficient and kind contact person with the Jamaican Embassy in Washington, DC, and has been a source of inspiration for us on this side.


Medical Centre


The Good Shepherd Foundation is in the midst of constructing the Good Shepherd Medical Centre on the grounds of the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Jamaica. This medical centre will include the Hope Teaching Clinic and amenities for dental practice, eye care, minor surgery and other services. The overall cost of construction for this project is estimated to be US$3.2 million.


When completed, this facility will provide further tangible support for the implementation of the vision of the Good Shepherd Foundation for Jamaica.


I take this opportunity to urge people of goodwill — both those present here today and otherwise — to do what you can to support the Good Shepherd Medical Centre. We continue to live in challenging financial times, but, for as long as Jamaicans have been in the wider world, we have sought to contribute to positive developments at home.


Members of the diaspora, working through institutions and at the personal level, have been keen to give back, and to touch and uplift the lives of the marginalised in our society. The Good Shepherd Medical Centre project is worthy of support within that tradition of support from the diaspora.


At the same time, I hope that the project will also garner additional support from persons who have links to Jamaica through marriage, friendship, business and general humanitarian concern.


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