Columns

Respect works both ways

Jean LOWRIE-CHIN

Monday, May 26, 2014    

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I heard an interesting analogy as I discussed the firing of Prof Brendon Bain. Now that it has been announced that Ambassador Burchell Whiteman will be president of UTech, do we believe that he will allow his political leaning to dictate his style of leadership? Of course not! Because, whatever his political bias, he, like Prof Bain, is a man of character.

A devout Christian, Prof Bain has been known for his compassionate care of HIV-AIDS patients, heterosexuals and homosexuals alike. As he stood before a court in Belize, convicted of his Christian beliefs and quoting medical research, he had to speak his truth. This is the individual's right to religious belief and free speech, promoted in various international charters.

While we may not agree with Prof Bain's stance on not wishing the decriminalisation of homosexual relations, we should heartily defend his right to his opinion. I know that the folks at J-FLAG are sincere, but they need to be more tolerant of other people's beliefs. I hope they will speak to some of Prof Bain's homosexual patients to understand that he is indeed a great doctor.

This is a generational issue as well — clearly we don't use the same language with our grandparents that we use with our friends. Theirs was of a more Bible-centred, gentler time. I want my good friends in the gay lobby to understand that respect works both ways, and their strident opposition to this gentle man has actually set back their positive efforts.

Three 9-year-olds lost

We mourn with the folks in St James at the tragic loss of three young lives last week. First, the drowning of nine-year-old twin brothers Brandon and Braydon Jones. The story is one of brotherly love and bravery as one tried to rescue the other when he fell into a gully. Since the discovery of their bodies, anguished parents, relatives, teachers have become caught up in accusations of irresponsibility. However, it is best to use the incident to move forward with more safeguards as suggested by Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon-Harrison.

The drowning was heart-breaking, but the loss of the third nine-year-old, Romaine Robinson, was horrifying — he was found stabbed to death, his hands and feet tied in the Plantation Heights community. No matter how hard we try to process this report, we cannot understand how anyone could do this to an innocent child. What monsters do we have walking among us, and what are we doing about them?

On several occasions this column has referred to scientific data which shows that a violent environment, an abusive upbringing, the absence of a mother for one year before the age of 16, are all factors which contribute to schizophrenia. Those whose commission or omission result in this violent state of affairs are stained by the blood of our innocents.

When we see the hundreds of emails, column inches and chunks of airtime dedicated to certain causes it makes us wonder why there is no strong defence for such basic rights as a safe environment for our children and elderly. We hear so much analysis about reasons to hound Prof Bain out of office, but none about the daily terror faced by our poor. Since we are a small, struggling country, let us pick battles that will uplift our people. Have a conscience.

Winston Chung Fah's dream a reality

Jamaica's beloved coach, mentor, social worker and philanthropist, Winston Chung Fah was finally able to see his dream come true with the signing of an agreement, last Tuesday, that 30 acres of land in Bernard Lodge, St Catherine, will be used for the building of a Football Centre of Excellence.

Jamaica Observer reporter, Ruddy Allen quoted Chung Fah, who has successfully coached Caymanian students, as saying, "This is where I ought to be... This is where I should be, here in Jamaica helping our children who will be heroes of tomorrow. This journey is not about Winston Chung. I am just a part of a puzzle that will fit right in the masterpiece, which is the football academy. This centre is expected to produce young heroes who will act as role models for the youths of the communities from which they come."

Besides football, 'Chungie' wants all students to be educated and have vocational training so that they will be equipped to become productive citizens: "The expectations are that anyone who passes through this school of excellence will find advancement in either academia with some aided source, be placed with an overseas club or otherwise be gainfully engaged — no one will leave this academy without something."

Chungie told us that he was grateful for the support of Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies; Donna Scott-Mottley, chairman of Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings Limited, which would be partnering in the project; JFF President Captain Horace Burrell; and KSAFA President Rudolph Speid. We give thanks that, after a major health scare, his beloved wife Barbara nursed him back to better health and we wish them much joy in this long-awaited project.

Boost for Alpha Boys'

On Labour Day, the Digicel Foundation completed work on a building at the Alpha Boys' School on South Camp Road, which will house their expanded screen-printing operations. This programme provides skills training for the students and operates as an enterprise, Alpha Wear, to offset operational costs. The souvenir outlet at Alpha boasts a poster featuring one of their graduates, Winston 'Yellowman' Foster, with the message 'AlphaWearJa empowers the youth'.

It is good to remember that Alpha was founded by a devout Catholic-Jamaican woman of mixed race, Jessie Ripoll, who used her own money and donations to purchase the 40-acre property on South Camp Road, and started her outreach with one orphaned girl on May 1, 1880. She later joined the Sisters of Mercy and became the local superior, Mother Claver.

Convent of Mercy Alpha's 120th Anniversary

Continuing their expansion at Alpha, the Sisters of Mercy founded Convent of Mercy Academy in 1894, and this week Alpha graduates of several generations will be participating in activities to mark our 120th anniversary. A highlight will be our Alpha Women of Excellence Banquet this Friday evening, where outstanding alumnae Patricia Lee (nee Yee) and Hermine Metcalfe (Lee Hing) will be awarded. These ladies are not only high-achieving professionals, but also they have been of great support to their alma mater throughout the years. Congratulations!

We will miss Owen Moss-Solomon

We found Owen Moss-Solomon an excellent leader in those early days at Hardware & Lumber when our shop provided PR services. He moved from office to lumber yard with ease and grace, showing respect to the humblest worker and making their labour light with his fantastic sense of humour. He was very keen on opportunities for young people and enthusiastically sponsored the Johnny Barnes Football Clinic in 1989.

Owen was a fine family man and a wonderful friend. Our condolence to his dear wife, Juliette, his children and other relatives.

lowriechin@aim.com

www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com

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