Fourteen years later I returned to Bethlehem, the Missionaries of the Poor's (MOP) home for children with special needs. The first visit conducted by MOP's founder Father Richard Holung had left me with a heavy heart. Never before had I seen so many extreme cases of disability. My visit last Tuesday was joy-filled as the facilities have been transformed.
The single bathroom for the 52 residents have been replaced by beautifully tiled separate blocks for boys and girls. The rotting ply partitions have been replaced by brightly painted walls. The kitchen and adjoining pantry are well furnished, while the laundry's concrete sinks are now playing second fiddle to the large heavy-duty washer and dryer.
I remember my colleague Maria Mulcahy, global chair of the Digicel Foundation, remarking on the love and care of the brothers and staff at Bethlehem when she visited the first project completed by the foundation. "We have to do more," she declared and committed to a second phase of repairs, bringing the total renovation cost to US$254,000. Construction Manager Carnel Campbell and team went to work and delivered a job which the brothers declare has made Bethlehem a showpiece among the MOP homes.
Guest speaker at the reopening, Minister of Education and Youth (MOEY) Fayval Williams, noted, "We cannot overstate the importance of this work being carried out here amongst children, some, as I toured, I could see with multiple disabilitiesâ€¦ We need to create a more caring society that enables us collectively to give our financial, physical, and other forms of support to these children and those who care for them. This is a special calling."
The renovation resulted in the certification of the home by the MOEY and Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) CEO Rosalee Gage-Grey arrived with certificate in hand to present jointly with Minister Williams to Brother Prem who leads the Bethlehem team.
The highlight of the event was the singing and hugs from those beautiful children. There could be no worthier cause.
Kudos to top Jamaicans
Continuing the recognition of Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) 2022 Living Legacy honourees, we note that attorney-at-law Peter Mais has lived a life of service to community and church. He has served through his work with the St Vincent de Paul Society, Sisters of Mercy at "Alpha", Holy Trinity Restoration, the Vilma Mais Memorial Park in Hannah Town, and Missionaries of the Poor, assisting with their legal incorporation and as co-founder of the Stella Maris Foundation. Mais has offered some of the most moving prayers we have ever heard.
When I shared with my childhood neighbour Ambassador Aloun Ndombet Assamba that I wanted to start an organisation to advocate for seniors' rights, she immediately offered legal services pro bono. Over the past 12 years she has been a steadfast supporter of the CCRP. Ndombet Assamba has served as Jamaica's high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Cyprus and as ambassador to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Ireland. She has served Jamaica as a senator, Member of Parliament, and state minister. She has chaired international tourism conferences, serves on several boards, and volunteers with United Way and the Lions Club of New Kingston.
Dr Blossom O'Meally Nelson is the quintessential trailblazer. She was Jamaica's first postmaster general; former pro-chancellor of the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTECH); founder of the Caribbean Institute of Logistics and Transport; chairman of the Jamaica Association of Microfinance, author, and poet. She has her own line of psychometric tests for use in recruitment and personnel development. She is a partner in Thunder Impact Limited, a technology solutions company providing group insurance to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises as well as prepaid credit cards and business development services.
However, the brave lady was fearful for her two sons, Dudley and Chris Stokes, and could not watch as they participated in bobsleigh events at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988, which inspired the movie Cool Runnings.
Whilst a teacher at Kingston College, Claudette Richardson-Pious became deeply concerned with the issues driving high rates of delinquency among her students and shifted her focus, gaining a master's degree in social work from the University of Cambridge.
In 1997 Richardson-Pious, together with children and their families she had been counselling, initiated the multi-faceted community-building model Children First, with the children enjoying a track record of successful remedial work. The organisation's "Bashy Bus" provides information on reproductive health and related support services in a "youth-friendly" space and promotes the prevention of gender-based violence and intimate partner violence.
Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan became the first chairman of the Early Childhood Commission from 2003 to 2016. Under her leadership the commission developed and implemented Jamaica's first cross-sectoral National Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Development. The plan and the commission itself have been recognised as international models by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and UNICEF. Professor Samms-Vaughan's tenure saw the development of the standards and regulatory system for early childhood centres and the development of Jamaica's Child Health and Development Passport.
Dr Arnoldo Ventura has devoted his life to medical research and to the promotion of science and technology as a development tool in Jamaica and internationally. He has served as executive chairman of the Scientific Research Council, is a founding member of the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST), was an executive committee member of NCST, and a member of the Technical Committee of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) initiative of the Ministry of Education. Dr Ventura is the architect of regional programmes in biotechnology, science, and technology for poverty eradication. He is a founding member of the Caricom Science and Technology Committee, and is chief technology officer of Tambourine Innovation Ventures, a technology company with headquarters in Virginia, USA, specialising in Global Solutions.
STGC inducts Hall of Famers
St George's College (STGC) Old Boys' Association inducted three alumni in their Hall of Fame earlier this month. Stephen Hill is co-founder and CEO of Caribbean International Network (CIN). CIN is a favourite of the Jamaican Diaspora in the New York Tri-State region, highlighting our country's culture and achievements. Hill has been a steady contributor to his alma mater's development and sports programmes.
Richard Lake is an innovative real estate developer whose Aerocon Building System received national recognition as a low-income housing solution. Lake provides the annual Rodwell Lake scholarship for STGC students to The University of the West Indies. He is a substantial supporter of the school's Manning Cup team and the rehabilitation of the football field at the school's Winchester Park.
From humble beginnings in Denham Town, Francis Price is now a trustee of New York's University of Rochester. According to his citation, he "runs a portfolio of companies, among which he owns commercial and industrial operations in central Mexico; China; Rochester; Michigan; and Anaheim, California". Price provides opportunities for students who are from circumstances similar to that of his early years.
Fifa World Cup 2022
World Cup fever has taken hold. It seems that Argentina has replaced Brazil as the Jamaican favourite, perhaps this is because we dearly want the brilliant, good-hearted Lionel Messi to win in his final World Cup campaign. Happy watching!