'Time to put up or shut up!'Monday, April 27, 2015
We had some heartening news last week regarding appointments to the boards of two important government agencies: the National Housing Trust and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), now chaired by the excellent Dr Carlton Davis and Dennis Chung, respectively. It is great that such outstanding Jamaicans as Scarlette Gillings, Camille Facey and Butch Hendrickson have also accepted the invitation to serve.
I was able speak with Butch, chairman of Continental/National Baking Company, whose passion for governance is well known. Commenting on his NSWMA board appointment, he stated: "I am doing this for Jamaica, not for any individual. We have to put politics aside; it is time for us as a nation to put up or shut up! The NSWMA needs to find best practices that exist elsewhere in the world, and work towards them. I hope when we do that, we can create a model for governance."
He continued: "I am working on behalf of the shareholders of Jamaica, all three million of us. In order to follow a growth agenda, we need to pull together in one direction. It is a long, slow process. We have come a long way in self-determination, but not in the creation of wealth for our people. We have to believe in each other and show more respect for each other."
The parents of Butch Hendrickson, Karl and Nell Hendrickson, inspired their four children to expand and create substantial businesses which all subscribe to this philosophy of service and respect. We should remember that Karl Hendrickson chaired the Rural Electrification Board of the 70s, which saw the swiftest rollout of light and power services to deep rural Jamaica.
Five living legends of Jamaica
It was especially significant to me that the NHT and NSWMA Board appointments took place in the very same week that the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) recognised five of our finest as living legacies (Karl Hendrickson was so honoured in 2012). As we researched their achievements, we reflected that these patriots had given much to build this beloved country and that we must not allow their efforts to go to naught by turning a blind eye to corruption and poor governance.
The five stalwarts included:
* Ninety-two-year-old Dr Badih Shoucair, who has served a wide cross section of Jamaicans, providing free service to the less fortunate, and compassionate guidance to many. He declared that if he had his life to live over again he would do it the very same way.
* Ken Jones, the distinguished author and columnist for this very newspaper, reminded us of a simple truth: The present is the most important moment in which you can make a contribution, so do not waste your time regretting what is past or pining after the future. As a 68-year veteran of media, Jones remains as relevant as ever in his commentaries, and his publications on Marcus Mosiah Garvey have distilled the important messages of Jamaica's first national hero.
* Ambassador K G Anthony Hill -- a legendary St George's footballer and career diplomat who has served Jamaica in posts around the world -- has not rested on his laurels since retirement. He has been collaborating with yet another CCRP Living Legacy recipient, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Anthony Chen, to promote public awareness on climate change. CCRP board member, economist Dennis Jones noted: "[Ambassador Hill] argued that the two issues of aging population and climate change pose Jamaica's biggest challenge. He wondered if it was time to consider a National Retirement Service, so that those whose age meant that formal work may have to stop would still have ample opportunities to give of their experience and energies."
* Beverly Hall-Taylor, who retired as executive director of the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) in 2013, has been spearheading volunteer activities to assist the elderly and children in her Old Harbour community. Her advice to the audience: "Never let a day pass, without doing something for someone."
To honour founding director the late Syringa Marshall Burnett, CCRP named an annual award in her honour, the first of which was presented to Merel Hanson, past president of the Nurses' Association of Jamaica, and the only Jamaican nurse to have served on the executive of the International Nursing Council. Hanson is now the acting chairman of the NCSC, and paid tribute to the memory of our unforgettable Syringa.
At the end of the formalities, yet another CCRP 'Living Legacy', Ernie Smith, had the recipients and the audience on their feet. Dennis Jones has Instagram posts of the action, so please check Dr Shoucair dancing up a storm with his beautiful daughter, Odette.
These 'legends' have put in the work; talk and action.
Happy 60th, Jamaica Cancer Society
The Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) launched its 60th anniversary commemoration at King's House last Monday with kudos from custos of St Andrew, Donna Parchment Brown, and an enlightening lecture by Dr Belinda Morrison of the University of the West Indies. She discussed the findings from the Hanchard Registry, instituted by Professor Barrie Hanchard, which has been recording data on the types and incidence of cancer in Kingston and St Andrew since 1958, making it the oldest registry of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. She noted the decrease in stomach cancer, but expressed concern at the increase in colorectal cancers. The current data shows the leading cause of cancer in women to be of the breast, cervix and colon, while for men it is cancer of the prostate, lung and colon. She urged legislation that cancer be a reportable disease so that the data can help the society in their ongoing fight against the disease.
JCS Chairman Earl Jarrett hailed the late Dr Ken McNeill, Lady Phillips (ie, Daphne, mother of Hillary Phillips and Ambassador Elinor Felix), and the group of volunteers who founded the organisation. With such initiatives as the Hope Institute, which is now being run by the Government of Jamaica, mobile and regular screenings at their Lady Musgrave headquarters, the JCS is living up to its anniversary theme, 'Never giving up'. Earl noted the importance of advocacy as he hailed the work of volunteers who had made the Reach to Recovery and Relay for Life efforts such noteworthy activities. He said he looked forward to the establishment of an oncology unit at the UWI hospital. We can do our part in reducing our risk by attending regular screenings, maintaining a healthy weight, adding more fruit and vegetables to our diet, exercising, quitting smoking, and drinking in moderation.
Commendations to the hard-working JCS board, including that humble but great philanthropist Mike Fraser, and the compassionate team at the JCS led by the dynamic Yulit Gordon. The impact of the work of the JCS is far-reaching; certainly no talk shop.
Consciousness Rising at Edna Manley
We had a beautiful journey at the retrospective exhibition by Edna Manley College alumna 'Roark' as she uses her art -- paintings accompanied by moving narrative -- to show a personal and national journey. She gently, but firmly demands our attention and moves us to contemplate what we have been and how we can heal. Art visionary Pat Ramsay had the audience enthralled as she opened the exhibition last Tuesday. Please try to catch it before it closes on May 5 at the Edna Manley CAG[e] Gallery.
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