THE OPTIMISTS - Chorvelle Johnson


THE OPTIMISTS - Chorvelle Johnson

CEO, Sagicor Bank Jamaica

Sunday, November 11, 2018

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It seemed the right thing to do ahead of diving straight into the 'silly season', and in this time of incredible love and hate, confidence and fear, fake news and alternative truths, to hear shared voices of optimism. SO asked the question: What's your take on optimism?

I remember as a child growing up in Spalding, Clarendon I believed that once there was a heavy shower of rain, the crime and violence happening in our beloved country, Jamaica, would cease for that moment. I was even more convinced especially if a rainbow appeared following the rain. Back then, the rain gave me hope that Jamaica, land we love, would be healed. As I grew older, I became wiser, but I never lost hope. Today, it is not rain and rainbows but rather, the innocence of a child that gives me hope.

Kindness also gives me hope. Recently my leadership team and I honoured a team member at Sagicor Bank for a good and selfless deed she performed while on her way home. She witnessed a policeman being hit off his motorcycle by a motor car. While other onlookers either stopped to take pictures/videos of the injured lawman or drove by, our team member, Suzan Foster, instead selflessly assisted the policeman by getting him into her car and driving him to the hospital. It was such a heartwarming feeling to know that one of my very own team members did such a kind act. It reminds me there is still hope for all of us if good Samaritans, who are kind, caring and compassionate, still exist.

As the Chair of the Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI - a sub-committee of the United Way) and an active participant in the Sagicor Foundation's corporate social responsibility initiatives I am touched and inspired by people coming together to give back to their communities and by extension their country. Volunteerism, giving back and acts of charity always give me hope. The women of WLI, Sagicor team members and all groups of persons who continuously dedicate their time and work tirelessly to make a positive impact in our country gives me great hope.

Our children are our future and I strongly believe it is our duty to invest in them from an early age. At the WLI, our projects, including the Darkness to Light programme, Conversations with Boys, and helping Voluntary Organisation for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH) to become certified by the Early Childhood Commission by providing guidance and mentorship to the teachers and students are all yielding positive results. I lift my hat to those unsung heroes who continue to play their role in shaping a better and brighter future for our country, giving hope to the future generations of leaders who will continue to build and improve our nation. My WLI women are making their contributions to youth development and education, while my fellow Sagicor Strong team members' dedication and commitment to improving the lives of the people in the communities they operate are exemplary. I think of the volunteers in our Adopt A School programme and the hundreds of volunteers who help to execute the mammoth Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run every year. To all groups of volunteers who are always ready and willing to serve, you give me hope.

The empowerment of women gives me hope. Years ago, in Jamaica, there were not so many women as heads of businesses, CEOs and entrepreneurs. Today, it is amazing to see the number of women excelling in their respective fields, at the top of their game, managing the roles of career woman, wife, and mother like a true boss! As we continue to work together with our male counterparts to effect change over the long term, I have hope that women will continue to break the glass ceiling paving the way for our young, upcoming and budding female leaders.

Music gives me hope. The work and messages of the late great Bob Marley had the power to unite a people and country through his music. His songs transcend age, race, religion and time and continues to influence so many persons worldwide. He is still my favourite and if ever I lose a little hope, his music will always give it back to me tenfold.

I have been able to find hope in the courage and patriotism of men and women throughout history. The bravery displayed in the face of adversity by the late Nelson Mandela who led the Apartheid revolution and brought about such life-changing hope and change to an entire nation inspires me. Michelle Obama, a strong woman who stood by and worked alongside her husband, Barack Obama, the first black American president, gives me great hope. Her words of hope “when they go low, we go high” remind me to always hold your head high, stay above the noise and be the best version of yourself, always.

Finally, the beautiful prayer that is our National Anthem gives me hope. There is something so moving about its words; also our National Pledge. I get goosebumps nearly every time I hear them sung or recited. As I hear the first musical note for the anthem, I immediately feel the affirmation that Jamaica, Land We Love must change for the better and that change starts with me, with you and with all of us.

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