As I write, we are monitoring the track of Tropical Storm Ian as it moves closer to Jamaica on its way to becoming a hurricane. The strengthening is due to the warming of the Caribbean Sea, through no fault of our own.
Our little Jamaica has introduced climate-friendly measures, which are still not enforced in some developed countries. Here we are with our neighbours in the lesser and greater antilles, the sitting ducks of climate change (my description) among the small island developing states (SIDS), at the mercy of the big and powerful.
Up to late Friday evening we received notices of emergency contacts in each parish from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and guidelines from the Ministry of Health. Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie reported that 900 shelters and shelter managers were on standby and ODPEM was made operational day and night.
The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) sent an advisory on the necessity for an islandwide power outage if the storm comes close. Much as we criticise the JPS we have to be thankful that we have a resilient power supply, unlike that which exists in Puerto Rico, which is again suffering power failure as a result of Hurricane Fiona after their ordeal with Hurricane Maria five years ago.
The National Works Agency (NWA) has also advised that they have placed equipment in vulnerable locations for quick response if needed after the storm.
We are expecting between eight and 10 inches of rainfall, which may cause dangerous flooding. Over the past weekend, with appeals from Prime Minister Andrew Holness and arrangements by his ministers and essential organisations, we have been reassured that our public servants are doing their best to keep us safe during the storm.
SUNDAY IN SPRING VILLAGE
Imagine enjoying yourself at a friendly Sunday afternoon football match, when out of nowhere two vehicles drive close to you and your friends, open fire at a planned target, and continue to shoot at others. After the mayhem, three were left dead, six were injured, and a community was left traumatised. "What am I hearing," tweeted a friend who was away on a business trip. "Mass shooting in Jamaica?"
Bereaved relatives and friends have had to get counselling. A pastor shared that the mother of a victim, her beloved daughter, is in such a state that her church family has to be caring for her and ensuring that she takes her medication. So here we see the two sides of our beloved Jamaica: the cold-hearted murderous thugs and the kind-hearted friends and neighbours. The kind may outnumber the cold, but we are not armed like them.
Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) President Keith Duncan aptly describes the level of crime we are experiencing as a national emergency, calling for consensus on crime fighting between Government and Opposition. We need to respect the recommendations of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as they are the ones on the ground with the intelligence on which to act.
Please allow us to go for our morning walks and participate in leisurely events without worrying about being attacked, robbed, and murdered. Like too many of us, I write this with painful memories of much-loved friends who have died at the hands of criminals. Crime is the storm that we have the power to calm, but we must now develop the will to do it.
ANOTHER STEP TO PROTECT SENIORS
We at Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) welcome the Revised National Policy for Seniors, which was unveiled at the launch of Senior Citizens' Week last Wednesday. Congratulations to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) and its agency the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) on the strengthening of protection for the elderly.
In his address MLSS Minister Karl Samuda noted that, according to data provided by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in 2012, 32 per cent of all Jamaican households had a member who was 60 years old and over and called for care and respect for our seniors.
We join the minister in congratulating the board and staff of the NCSC for serving the nation in a "selfless and wonderful manner," particularly Executive Director Cassandra Morrison, who is enthusiastic about the welfare of Jamaica's elders. Minister Samuda urged active participation of seniors in a society that "guarantees their rights â€¦ recognises their capacities, their capabilities and contribution, and facilitates their enjoyment of a life of fulfilment, health, and security".
CCRP has been invited by the ministry's Permanent Secretary Colette Roberts Risden to join a working committee that will focus on legislation for the care and protection of the elderly. The updated policy is welcome, but legislation will ensure that there will be consequences for the abuse of our elders.
A happy and safe Senior Citizens' Week to the stalwart Jamaicans on whose shoulders we stand.
CONGRATULATIONS, IWF JAMAICA PRESIDENT
Allison Peart was recently elected president of the Jamaica Chapter of the International Women's Forum. She succeeds Barbara Alexander, who found creative ways of keeping us engaged and inspired during the challenging COVID-19 years. Peart is also president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica, past president of the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica and the Rotary Club of Kingston, and a charter member of the Rotary Club of Manor Park. Congratulations to our dynamic powerhouse.
We said farewell over recent weeks to the genius of broadcast media Francois St Juste; the gentle Sister Mary Carmen Chen of the Religious Sisters of Mercy; and Fitzgerald Casserly, my late father's business partner in accounting.
I can tell you that St Juste was a beautiful blend of his mother Margarietta and his dad Franklyn "Chappy" St Juste. I remember Merrick Needham giving instructions to Margarietta during Carifesta about guests coming from abroad in a strict tone, while Margarietta just smiled, nodded, and kissed him on top of his head. She found fun in every situation. Chappy lectured us on lighting and set at Phillip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts in such a cool and friendly manner that you hardly thought you were in a class. They gave us their Francois, a prince of a man.
Sister Irene was adored by her Alpha family. Joyce Archibald recalled the cheers she received when she returned after a long absence: "At the announcement of her arrival she was greeted with thunderous applause. I had never witnessed such outpouring of love, appreciation, regard, and delight for someone so humble and unassuming."
Newton Coote, training manager at St John Bosco related that it was Sister Carmen and Sister Benedict who shared with him their unique style of cooking. Sister Carmen had the sweetest smile, radiating love for all.
Fitz Casserley was a brilliant accountant and a loving family man. Growing up, we were like family to his daughter Ann-Marie and son Richard. We have delightful stories of the love and respect between the two business partners, who must now be organising heaven's ledgers. Fitz gave great jokes, but much of his laughter went after the death of a beloved grandson. He passed away in The Bahamas, where Ann-Marie cared for him.
Our sympathy to the families of these wonderful Jamaicans. May their souls rest in peace.