PM salutes new envoy to Washington

BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, June 21, 2012

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PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller has come out publicly for the first time in strong support for Jamaica's newly appointed Ambassador to the United States Professor Stephen Vasciannie.

Simpson Miller, who was delivering the main address at the RuJohn Foundation's annual celebrity meet-and-greet reception Sunday night at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew, hailed Prof Vasciannie's achievements in law and academia and gave the Rhodes Scholar a rousing endorsement to be head of Jamaica's diplomatic affairs with the island's main trading partner.

Simpson Miller told scores gathered at the event, held in association with the SuperClubs Foundation, that Jamaica's business in the United States was placed firmly in good hands.

"We will have an excellent representative in the USA," Simpson Miller said in her speech. "His brilliance will not only shine across the USA, but will radiate across the world," she said.

Simpson Miller left Jamaica on Monday for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, popularly called Rio+20, in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, that will see her away from local shores until next Sunday.

Vasciannie was confirmed by way of letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade that he would be the top envoy in Washington. He takes up his appointment at the start of August this year.

The outgoing principal of the Norman Manley Law School and board chairman of his alma mater Kingston College will be accompanied overseas by his wife, Dr Lisa Vasciannie, and sons Sean, 9, and Dominic, 7.

Simpson Miller lauded the RuJohn Foundation, an organisation that is based in the United States, but was founded by persons of Jamaican origin, for assisting Jamaican schools and organisations with financial and material donations.

The foundation assisted schools, which include Rusea's High, Herbert Morrison, Manning's High, Knox College, Kingston College, Balaclava High, St Elizabeth Technical, Whitfield Town Primary, Wait-a-Bit All-Age, Copper Basic, and Port Royal, with cash and kind.

Other institutions like the Alpha Boys' Home, Operation Love, United Learning Centre, and Wheel and Turn Day Care,
also benefited, while the Kingston College Old Boys' Association and Majesty Gardens Basketball team received cash donations.

"Any contribution to education is a contribution to the development of Jamaica," Simpson Miller stated. "Any contribution to the children is a contribution to the future of Jamaica. We are blessed to have people with big hearts. We cannot pay for what they give to us every time they come here," the prime minister said.

The RuJohn Foundation, a non-profit organisation, is partly named after Simpson Miller's uncle, the late John Tulloch. Tulloch's wife Ruth, also deceased, is the other person in whose honour the foundation was started by their grandchildren Andrew, the chief executive, and Christina, the president.

The foundation's mandate is to assist schools and organisations with computers, computer desks and printers, contributions to hurricane victims, structural improvement of sports facilities, provision of general school supplies, financial aid, among others.

Each year, the foundation takes sports stars who have participated in the National Basketball Association and the National Football League.

This year, sports stars in the NBA, Andray Blatche and JJ Hickson travelled to Jamaica while NFL players Raheem Brock, Levi
Jones and Rudi Johnson are here to help teach youngsters.

Actors Lance Gross and Robert Ri'chard also made the trip.

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