Hope in these testing times


Hope in these testing times

Monday, August 03, 2020

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As we celebrate Emancipation and Independence in this semi-lockdown, there is a ramping up of political campaigning and purity testing by both the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP). It is important to ensure that good governance is in place and where it is not happening it should be addressed. However, this should not blind us to the positives.

While the scandals may be enticing, our time and energy are better directed at encouraging citizens' responsibility to keep our COVID-19 curve flat. Let us highlight the work of the dedicated public servants in our ministries of health, finance, local government, and foreign affairs in their taxing tasks of testing, contact tracing, implementing of protocols for hospitals and infirmaries, and the repatriation of thousands of Jamaicans. Now the ministries of tourism, agriculture, entertainment, gender and sports are collaborating for a careful reopening of certain sectors of the economy. Kudos to the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Digicel Jamaica Foundation, Food For the Poor, United Way, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force for their active outreach, especially to our elderly.

Hopeful indicators

Richard Pandohie, the recently re-elected president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), posted on social media: “Some good indicators showing an upward bounce in economic activities: fuel sales up, cement sales up, alcohol sales up. Chicken sales have rebounded well ahead of the projected timeline by the industry players, small poultry farmers are buying chicks to restock their operations.”

Both Seprod, headed by Pandohie, and GraceKennedy, headed by Don Wehby, have recorded continued increase in sales, and remittances are up. Let us spare a thought for those hard-working Jamaicans, many of them on the front line in the US COVID-19 crisis, who continue to support their families here.

COVID-19 anxiety

We have been hearing the ads from Rise Life Management Services offering counselling to folks who feel depressed or anxious and so we should encourage our friends and colleagues to make use of these tools because this COVID-19 situation is challenging. There are several viral videos of people refusing to wear masks in the US, but here in Jamaica I heard a story that took it to another level.

A regular shopper at a rural wholesale refused to accept the sanitiser at the entrance to the store, pushing past the guard. When the cashier tried to stop her from entering, she used the most foul language, and stepped off. I thought my friend was going to say that she bought a mask, but in fact what she returned with was a brand new machete! She had to be subdued and sent on her way.

Unwelcome break

I decided in June to remove wires which had served their time in healing my right elbow which I had broken a couple of years ago. For the procedure, I had to do a COVID-19 test and go into isolation. Yes, the test is uncomfortable, having those long swabs pushed up one's nostrils, but it is very quick. The surgery was a simple procedure by the gifted Dr Chris Rose and anaesthetist Dr Crawford Sykes. Within nine days the stitches were out and I was as good as new and celebrating the full use of both arms.

You can imagine my dismay when, three days later, I slipped on the cattle trap at my gate and saw my left-hand hanging limp — I had broken my wrist! Remember never to wear those rubber flip-flops in your yard. My incredulous doctors were once again tubing me up in the University Hospital of the West Indies operating theatre two weeks later.

I am grateful to my family of angels and fantastic team at work who have ensured my comfort and supported our various activities, including the CCRP (Caribbean Community of Retired Persons) annual general meeting held one week after the surgery. Fellow CCRP board director Dr Owen James reminded me that I was still in patient mode but I made it through and, using Facebook Live, we were able to engage with hundreds of members.

Thank goodness I had the CCRP health insurance. James Pawson, chairman of Gallagher Insurance Brokers, designers of the plan, disclosed at the meeting that since last December they had settled over 54,000 claims at a cost of over $330 million, underwritten by Sagicor. This happy founder has seen our membership grow to over 10,000 in our tenth year.

Season of music

The star-studded festival song contest came just in time to raise our spirits. The entire line-up was great, so congratulations to all the participants, as listed by Jamaica Observer Entertainment Editor Brian Bonitto, “reggae singer Freddie McGregor ( Tun Up Di Sound); three-time festival song winner Toots & The Maytals ( Rise Up Jamaica); reggae singjay Buju Banton ( I am Jamaican); Papa Michigan, formerly of Michigan and Smiley ( Festival Dance); dancehall quartet LUST, featuring Lukie D, Thriller U, Singing Melody & Tony Curtis ( Wave The Flag); and 2009 Digicel Rising Stars winner Shuga (One People)… two-time Jamaica festival song winner Nazzle Man ( Jamaica Nice); up-and-coming dancehall artistes Xtra Bigg ( Jamaica A Paradise); Radix OD ( Place To Be); and actress Sakina Deer ( We Are Jamaica).

The COVID-19 lockdown has seen other great musical creations, including Koffee's song of the same name — which in six days had 3.2 million hits on YouTube and Kevin Downswell's We Will Be Stronger.

Nadine Sutherland's birthday tribute to Rita Marley told us of a generous and brilliant woman who mentored Nadine as her own, including in the classical music training she organised for her children. This sent us to YouTube to enjoy the charismatic I-Three: Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt.

Let us tune out the dissonance and tune in to our great Jamaican music. Happy Independence Day!



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