Hearts united for Jamaica


Hearts united for Jamaica

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, October 12, 2020

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Yes, we have many challenges, but we will not be defeated. This is because many Jamaican organisations are looking out for the less fortunate. It is particularly moving to see the special focus that has been placed on the elderly during these COVID-19 times.

We had dancing and solid advice from top experts at a wellness forum during seniors' week. Dr Le'Anne Steele reminded us of the importance of exercise for both physical and mental health. What a joy it was to see a video featuring 80-year-old Gurlene Johnson, champion participant in numerous athletic events, both locally and in the region. Holding trophies and decked in medals, she shared that she walks or runs up to four miles each day. She has no noncommunicable diseases and is not on any medication. “To God be the glory,” she declares, thanking the health ministry and the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC).

Dr Sharon Dawson gave information on nutrition, highlighting the immunity boosters — fruit and vegetables, turmeric, garlic, red bell pepper, almonds, ginger, green tea, sweet potatoes, and oily fish. She emphasised the importance of staying hydrated. We learned at another session that sometimes it is dehydration, and not dementia, that causes confusion in the elderly. Let us remember also that blessed sunshine, which gives us vitamin D, one of the most important vitamins to build immunity and keep our bones strong.

Deputy Chief Nursing Officer Karen Nelson reminded us to monitor our health daily; to watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, and other symptoms of COVID-19. We understand that some of the serious COVID-19 cases resulted from delayed action in reporting such symptoms. She reminded us that masks should fit well, covering the nose and mouth. She said adequate sleep was important, as this is when hormones beneficial to one's health are released. She warned against too much alcohol and cigarette smoking. Nelson ended her presentation with a lively dance.

Dr Judith Leiba spoke on mental health, reminding caregivers, “Think of your own mental health before you help someone else.” She said a senior told her that prayer, exercise, and fierce determination were her way of coping with these times. She recommended the “Rs” — reflection, responsibility, relaxation, retooling and rebooting, recreation, relationships, and resources — and urged participants, “Be aware of your emotions and be patient with yourselves.” She warned that, although cleaning and sanitising were important, we should be wary of obsessive behaviour.

We know that the COVID-19 updates and news here and abroad can become sources of stress. Dr Leiba also encouraged that we watch positive, humorous programmes. Indeed, the morning I was to have surgery on my wrist, my blood pressure went up and, after watching Oliver at Large on YouTube, it stabilised. Laughter remains the best medicine.

Please check the Ministry of Labour and Social Security's YouTube channel for this excellent forum.

COVID-19 stats and actions

Last Friday we attended a stakeholders' workshop organised by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) at which various organisations discussed their programmes to assist our seniors and the less fortunate during this pandemic. We were surprised that a Statin-MOHW survey showed that 75.7 per cent of the Jamaican people did not perceive their community as being at risk for the novel coronavirus. Clearly, many of us are in denial, but the statistics speak for themselves.

A table revealed that, while it took 151 days to arrive at the first 1,000 cases of COVID-19 in Jamaica, it has taken only six days for the last 1,000 cases to emerge. Dr Simone Spence urged us to “Treat everyone as if they are positive.”

The concentration of cases in certain areas of Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine is a warning. The spike is real and the deaths are devastating. Thank goodness, there are several organisations which have been giving amazing service to our people. The NCSC, led by Cassandra Morrison, has been at work islandwide, counselling, assisting with health aids and care items. Saffrey Brown, head of the Council for Voluntary Social Services (CVSS), says the organisation has distributed 50,000 masks and 71,000 care packages. It is collaborating with the Jamaica Council of Churches to set up food kitchens in communities. Lois Hue, deputy head of the Jamaica Red Cross, has been increasing the Meals-on-Wheels programme for indigent elderly and handicapped individuals, even as they also continue to distribute care packages and sanitising items. The Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) has contributed $500,000 to Food For the Poor for the preparation of care packages for the elderly indigent, and these were distributed with the assistance of the Police Community Safety Division. The organisation also received a considerable amount of foodstuff from the Digicel Foundation, which was distributed to churches and infirmaries islandwide. Vilma McDonald reported that the Lions Club of New Kingston have continued their outreach to the elderly, also delivering food packages for them.

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica's (PSOJ) programme for outreach, led by President Keith Duncan, has seen top companies stepping up to give millions, and a recent video aimed at the Diaspora features a GoFundMe page so that Jamaicans everywhere can contribute.

R Danny Williams autobiography

Congratulations to the legendary R Danny Williams on the launch of his autobiography I Tried To Make A Difference. The title reflects Williams' humility, as those who know him know the huge difference he has made in business, philanthropy and mentorship. It was amazing to see this patriot, this force of nature, at work when he raised funds in record time for the building of the University Hospital of the West Indies Intensive Care Facility.

As the founder and president of Life of Jamaica (now Sagicor), he changed the face of the insurance industry in Jamaica, creating thousands of successful careers in the field. Along with his wife of 65 years, Shirley, they inspire us to give of our best to family and country.

All proceeds of the book will go to the R Danny Williams Endowment Fund to benefit the students of his beloved alma mater, Jamaica College.

Digicel Virtual 5K

This ninth running of the Digicel 5K for special needs will take place virtually this month. A unique plan, designed by Alfred “Frano” Francis of Running Events, will deliver a 'virtual bib' after one registers. So anyone, here and abroad, can now walk, run and wheel for special needs.

Since 2012, the Digicel Foundation has raised $61.5 million to assist school renovations and provide scholarships to students with special needs.


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