Stephan Rampair’s Kiwanis journey
STEPHAN Rampair describes himself as a giver at heart who spends most of his time in Kiwanis, serving the children of our world.
Rampair’s journey in the organisation began back in 1988 when, on seeing how much of a rock star his brother Johan was in Campion College’s Key Club, the Kiwanis bug bit him prompting him to also join Key Club, the youth arm of Kiwanis for high schoolers.
Rampair’s Key Club journey at Campion would see him becoming Key Club lieutenant governor in fifth form, and in sixth form becoming international trustee for Key Club.
He, however, went on a sabbatical of sorts after high school and with hopes of becoming a medical doctor began studies in natural sciences at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.
Towards the end of that period, Rampair got through for medicine at University of Guyana but instead chose to go to the The UWI, St Augustine in Trinidad where he pursued engineering.
Upon returning to Jamaica in 2001, Rampair got a job at West Indies Home Contractors where he spent 14 years. During that time he chaired and coordinated a project to build 17 schools in the north-west region of the island.
With life taking off, Rampair got married, started a family and told the Jamaica Observer that though his then Kiwanian advisor Lloyd Davis kept reaching out for him to join the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Kingston, which sponsors Campion, he kept saying he was not yet ready.
But between 2011 and 2012 something changed.
Rampair told the Sunday Observer that his high school classmate Kevin Alcock, who had become the president of the downtown Kingston club, died after a long battle with sickle cell disease. Rampair said it was at this point he reconnected with several classmates and members of Kiwanis Club of Downtown Kingston who would have mentored him whilst a student at Campion; this led to a rekindling of his passion for Kiwanis and in 2012 he jumped at the opportunity to become a member of Kiwanis Club of Downtown Kingston.
Since then Rampair has served on all club committees — including interclub, membership, community services, service leadership programme (youth services), human and spiritual values — as either chairman or member.
Rampair, the managing director of Premier Land and Water Development, described his Kiwanis experience so far as a “journey of growth”.
“When I was president of Downtown Kingston, I was immediately asked by my Kiwanis spiritual chairman — who appointed himself — when are we doing the church service. I said I don’t know we have to plan it out. He said, ‘well, if you don’t mind, I have already planned the service and chose the church and arranged to play the organ. This is what you are expected to do but I have already planned everything. That person is Norman Jarrett at 96 years old. In no other organisation you are going to find somebody at 96 say, ‘hey, you just come and do your part, I’ve already set it up’,” Rampair said.
He added: “Stalwarts like Lloyd Distant Sr is very involved in the Kiwanis Park. When you see that type of focus and capability you know you have so much to learn. What powers me is knowing I have support.”
Now serving as the lieutenant governor for Kiwanis Division 23 East following his October 1 installation, Rampair’s main plan for the division is to re-engage members.
“The division is one of the biggest and I like to say we have 20 clubs in 20 square miles. Because we have so many clubs, some struggle. COVID asked us all to lock up the doors and go on Zoom. I was a very big Zoom person and Zoom served a purpose of keeping everything alive. But humans are social creatures, and we need to get back out there. We need to see each other and we need to spend time with each other. We don’t even realise how much we are losing by not having those opportunities to hug each other, see each other in person and say things — to go and visit people.
“If we don’t support each other it’s easy to have members fade away. So we want to re-engage people to get back out and be active in projects. We have a lot of procedures but I think we need to understand we are here for the cause of the children. All the minutes, the board meetings, all of that only support making the children better. No matter how each club serves it all boils down to being for the betterment of the children and that’s one commonality we have to start from to get our clubs re-engaged and help our membership grow,” he said.
In addition to re-engaging members, Rampair has plans in place for a literacy programme for grade four students to improve literacy through e-Learning, and he intends on continuing a programme of discipline and courtesy started last year, where all clubs partake in some form of intervention in schools that would facilitate things like conflict management and resolution.
He said: “Our division – Division 23 East is more than just a geographical region; it is a community of dedicated individuals who understand that service is the essence of our existence. It’s about standing together hand in hand, to uplift those who may have lost hope, to empower those who need a helping hand and to inspire those who seek a brighter future. The theme for this year is K-LIFE. Let us serve to grow new Kiwanis leaders, Inspire our Service Leadership Programmes, serve with Friendship and Empower our children and communities.
Outside of work and Kiwanis, Rampair enjoys spending time with his wife Gillian and boys Aiden and Christian.
He believes in being as fair and clear as possible, helping as much as is possible, and that with clarity and transparency everything moves a lot smoother.