Heart-warming moments for Jamaica
Yes, it was a hot morning, but the joy of family and friends made it all worth it for those of us who attended the Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Honours and Awards at King’s House last Monday.
Members of the clergy, business leaders, musicians, teachers, nurses, volunteers, members of the uniformed groups — how we applauded. Seeing Marcia Griffiths receiving the Order of Jamaica brought many to their feet.
Some were little known, but their bravery was deservedly recognised. Last April Ruel Oliver Grant, a farmer in St Thomas, and internal auditor Keith Yorke Angello Nugent were presented with the Badge of Honour for Gallantry. The citation read: “In the face of grave danger, saving the lives of four females from a burning motor vehicle that exploded minutes later.”
Jamaica Observer Senior Staff Reporter Alicia Dunkley-Willis interviewed the two gentlemen after the presentations. “Both men say the memories of that day will be hard to lay to rest due to the fact that they were unable to save [the driver], 58-year-old Patrisha Brown, a former resident of Warner Street, Port Maria, in St Mary, who remained trapped despite their valiant efforts to free her.”
She quoted Grant: “I was driving behind a car, but the road had some very sharp corners, so I didn’t really see the car while I was driving, but I knew it was in front of me. When I went around a left-hand corner I see the car capsize in the road. I was seeing the wheels, so I reversed and parked on a side of the road. I ran over and pushed the back door up. I tried the front door, [but] it wouldn’t open, it was closed. When I pushed up the front door, the weight of it brought it back down on me so I pushed it again with more force. I saw people inside cuddled up, crying.”
She noted: “He said in running to get his phone to summon cops he saw Nugent, who had also been driving along the roadway. Mi seh to him, ‘Some people inna di car.’ When mi look in the front of the car, the engine was on fire so he came and was helping. Some other people came, because there was a funeral going on in the district, so we pulled them out — one by one. We pulled out four persons.”
Nugent described for Dunkley-Willis the drama of rescuing the fourth person: “I was trying… Then I started to feel the heat on my chest and I ran off too because I started to hear my wife and aunt screaming, ‘Come! It’s going to blow, ‘ so I ran off. But when I looked, she was standing [in the car]. And the image of her standing there and the thought of her perishing was too much, so I turned back again and I called out, and Mr Grant and one of the first ladies to get out of the car came back and the three of us were able to get her out.”
Another moving moment was Jamaica Fire Brigade Assistant Superintendent Garnett Douse who, on behalf of his late son, Lorenzo Douse, received his Medal of Honour for Gallantry. He had a hard time keeping his composure and kissed his son’s medal. Young Douse, also a firefighter, had been mowed down by a car driven off the road when he was turning off the pump after extinguishing a fire at the Ocho Rios Pier last November.
Well-deserved, Wayne Mitchell, OD
Every year we hear criticisms about the choice of people being honoured. Perhaps the critics do not understand the process by which the recipients are selected. One can go online to the Jamaica Information Service website to download a nomination form, complete it, then either mail or deliver to the division which deals with national honours at the Office of the Prime Minister.
There is a selection committee which evaluates the nominations and then recommends those suitable for national honours. There are still many unsung heroes in Jamaica, so I suggest that the critics look around and see who they can nominate.
Let me say that I applaud the selection of Wayne Mitchell for the Order of Distinction. Because of his youthful appearance, it is hard to believe that he has been in the music business for over 20 years, creating popular dancehall and gospel songs. His Glory to God with Ryan Mark and Tessanne Chin is a classic, gaining 3.9 million views to date on YouTube.
He and his wife Tami have created the successful YouTube series Meet the Mitchells, portraying healthy family life and showing love and respect to their household worker. Mitchell ascribes his success to hard work and consistency, “It is not just about the music, it’s about character.”
He shared, “I am happy that my mother is alive to see this. Nobody is prouder than she is.” His mother, my schoolmate Paulette Mitchell, and her late husband, Wycliffe Mitchell, have raised a strong family. Congratulations to her for nurturing a son who has become a role model for fatherhood as well as an accomplished artiste. Kudos to you, Wayne Mitchell. Let no one rain on your parade.
National Day of Spain
We gathered last week to celebrate the National Day of Spain hosted by Ambassador Diego Bermejo Romero de Terreros and his wife Julia de Bermejo. He serves as Ambassador of Spain to Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Dominica, and St Kitts and Nevis. The ambassador remarked on Spain’s continued investment in Jamaica’s tourist industry and expressed his commitment to our developmental initiatives.
Spanish hotel operators in Jamaica include the Grand Palladium, RIU, Secrets, Iberostar, Excellence, H10, Melia, and Bahia Principe. State minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Alando Terrelonge thanked the ambassador and his Government for their strong partnership with Jamaica. It is remarkable that the Spanish hoteliers plan to build 2,000 houses for hotel workers. Our outstanding hotel workers deserve no less.
The Spanish Foundation of Jamaica continues to sponsor educational, environmental, cultural, and community development initiatives. These include support for Spanish teaching and learning, Project Star and the Social Development Commission as well as empowerment of young women.
Invest in Braille
In celebration of Blind Awareness Month this October, media personality and author Dr Terri-Karelle Reid has teamed up with the Digicel Foundation to launch a campaign aimed at improving the educational prospects of blind and visually impaired students in Jamaica.
Dubbed Follow the Trail, Invest in Braille, the focus of the partnership is to address the severe shortage of Braille machines at the Salvation Army School for the Blind, Jamaica’s only school for the blind and visually impaired. Currently, there are only 26 Braille machines available to serve the over 130 students enrolled at the institution.
So far, several companies and individual donors have committed to the initiative, including NCB Foundation, Sandals Foundation, Hospiten, INAMI Management Services Limited, and Pia Baker. Please join them and assist our blind students.
Jean Lowrie-Chin is executive chair of PROComm, PRODEV, and CCRP. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.