'Action Ann' fêtes the less fortunate

'Action Ann' fêtes the less fortunate

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, December 14, 2019

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SHE is facing her personal battle with the decision by the United States Government not to renew her visitor's visa, but that is not stopping Ann-Marie Vaz from doing her work as Member of Parliament for Portland Eastern.

On Wednesday, Vaz treated almost 110 senior citizens and indigent individuals in her constituency to a pre-Christmas dinner, which she said was held in honour and memory of her grandmother Eva May Wright, who died recently.

The pre-Christmas dinner was held at Hotel Tim Bamboo in Port Antonio, and Vaz said it was planned to reach out to members of her constituency who might not have been able to afford to sit at a dinner table and enjoy a sumptuous meal during the festive season.

According to Vaz, the idea was to allow the less fortunate in her constituency to dine in style and to let them know that they are loved and appreciated, despite their present living conditions.

“Eva May always encouraged me to help people, especially those that are in dire need,” Vaz told those at the dinner.

“This dinner will be held annually in honour of my grandmother, whose teachings enabled me to be a better and a more caring person. This is being done out of love and respect for all of you who are present at this dinner. I am committed to the staging of this dinner every year, whether I am MP or not. This is your Christmas present and I love you all, and I am overwhelmed by this turnout,” added Vaz.

One of the attendees, Leroy Gray, who is visually impaired, expressed thanks and appreciation on behalf of the gathering, while wishing Vaz long life, good health, God's richest blessing, and prosperity.

“I never expected anything like this from anyone,” said Gray.

“To be sitting at Hotel Tim Bamboo for a Christmas dinner is really a privilege and an honour. Yes I am blind, but from the sounds and talk going on, I know for sure that just about everyone is happy to be here. It goes to show that despite our state of poverty, people out there do care about us,” added Gray.

News emerged on Tuesday that Vaz had her application to renew her visitor's visa turned down, with the usual no explanation from the US Embassy in Kingston.

This came after the diplomatic visa she had been issued was withdrawn based on the fact that her husband and Cabinet member, Daryl, had his diplomatic visa revoked by the Americans. Vaz had qualified for a US diplomatic visa, as one had been issued to her spouse.

She subsequently applied for renewal of her expired visitor's visa, which she has had for several years, but when she went for her interview at the US Embassy, she was turned down.

Vaz, who is presently pursuing the matter with the US Embassy in Kingston and the United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia, during an interview on Nationwide News Network on Wednesday, said she could, but had not yet applied for a waiver.

She has repeatedly spoken about the debt that she owes to her grandmother Eva, who died in September at the age of 99.

“Grandma Eva”, was featured in an ad for Vaz's campaign in the by-election for the Portland Eastern seat, where she spoke about the difficulties her granddaughter faced while growing up in Duff House, which is situated on the border of St Elizabeth and Manchester.

There was drama as Vaz was sworn in as a Member of Parliament as Grandma Eva had to be lifted into Gordon House, which did not have the facilities to allow the smooth entrance of people in wheelchairs.


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