Tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Jamaica's dreams for a bright future will only come true if all factions work together.

This column's headline comes from the timeless words of William Butler Yeats: “But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

I address them to our politicians in both major political parties as we are seeing the danger of entitlement displayed in certain missteps, some more serious than others.

You, our leaders, are the guardians of our dreams. You declared that you could make them come true from your campaign platforms. We hold you to higher standards than the ordinary person because, with our vote, we have given you extraordinary powers to be our lawmakers, not lawbreakers.

Maintaining credibility validates the people's trust that you will live up to your pledge as a Member of Parliament (MP).

The resignations of former ministers Andrew Wheatley, Floyd Green, and Robert Montague created sadness and disbelief because their constituents had — and still have — great faith in them. They made positive efforts in their posts, but like the proverbial farm boy, they milked the cow and then kicked over the bucket. The bright side of that proverb is that the cow is still there, and the job can be restarted by individuals who will be more cautious because of lessons learnt.

They can take a page from Prime Minister Andrew Holness's book of focused and compassionate leadership. His budget presentation at last week's sitting of the Lower House was wide-ranging and reflective of our dreams for Vision 2030 — just eight years away.

He said he would not resile from his efforts to make Jamaica so safe that we can sleep with our doors and windows open. He has been consistent is his opposition to donmanship and gangs, and he has given significant support to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to achieve this goal. These are big dreams, and he will need everyone on board, including the members of the Opposition, to help us realise them.

We congratulate the JCF communications team led by Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Stephanie Lindsay, head of the JCF Corporate Communications Unit, and Dennis Brooks, senior communications strategist, for their timely updates and creative messaging as they appeal to Jamaicans to stop sheltering criminals.

I recall the words of Professor Barry Chevannes to these wrongdoers, “You are a man, not an animal,” as he appealed to them to give themselves up to the police and pay their dues to society. Family members can do likewise instead of endangering an entire household.

As we nurture our dreams, none of them will come true if our education system is not strengthened and more focused to prepare our students for this digital age.

While we welcome the coding in schools programme, we are getting reports of poor socialisation after the two years away from face-to-face classes and of children, as young as primary school age, who have not returned to physical classes. We know the Ministry of Education has been sending out officers to find these children. These are young lives who are at serious risk.

To the tribalists, tread softly, too, on our dreams of a harmonious society. Do not demonise those you do not support as that is a threat to our democracy.

We have seen, in this troubled world, what can happen when we try to crush those who do not agree with us, and we call on the Members of Parliament to promote a sense of family among all Jamaicans, whether you support them or not. Fight fair so we no longer live in fear, but in the hope that our dreams will be fulfilled.

Brilliant Credit Union Leaders

It was a pleasure to meet women leaders at an event in their honour hosted by the Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League (JCCUL) last week as part of their 80th anniversary celebrations. Little did I know that these outstanding managers had created not just millions, but billions from modest beginnings. What was even more impressive was their passion to mentor and guide younger team members so they, too, can be as successful.

I caught up with Claudette Christie, a former media colleague, who is now group communications manager for the league. You know you can depend on folks with media experience to give you a fulsome brief when you are invited to speak, so it was Christie and her team who collected the inspiring quotes that follow.

Fern Graham, general manager of the PWD Co-operative Credit Union: “I am committed to making a positive change in peoples' lives. The comfort of knowing that what you do gives someone an opportunity to improve themselves, build their confidence, and achieve what they initially thought was out of their reach.”

Roxann Linton, CEO, First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union: “My first duty was to get the team to buy into the vision of change... With this the change effort became seamless and became a part of the day-to-day business activities as this was integral to the organisation's future and success.”

Michelle Ambersley, general manager, Manchester Co-operative Credit Union, one of the youngest credit union leaders: “Inspiring changes in both members and team members is my goal.”

Andrea Messam, president, Broadcast and Allied Co-operative Credit Union; first vice-president, Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League; and deputy chairman, Cumax Wealth Management Limited: “Buying our own building and establishing two branches... we have introduced many successful products and services to improve the lives of our members.”

Ivy Lawrence, president, Lascelles Employees & Partners Co-operative Credit Union: “I am committed to continued unity and teamwork, and I am privileged to be associated with the team.”

Nicole Creary-Hewitt, general manager, Lascelles Employees & Partners Co-operative Credit Union: “One of my proudest achievements is being able to motivate others to tap into their potential while empowering them.”

Maureen Delevante, general manager, BJ Staff Co-operative Credit Union: “I am especially happy that, as an organisation, we have achieved sustainability and we are fulfilling our mandate to our members.”

Dr Desreen Marquis, CEO, NAJ & Health Services Co-operative Credit Union:

“The name of the credit union was changed from NAJ Co-operative Credit Union to NAJ & Health Services Co-operative Credit Union, the bond was widened to include all health professionals and the mortgage loan was introduced to members, which doubled the loan portfolio.”

Brenda Cuthbert, president, NCB Employees Co-operative Credit Union: “My proudest achievement is to see the success of those who I may have encouraged, mentored, pushed to try the next step in education in upgrading skills or coping strategies.”

Other top managers at the event were Patricia Tomlinson, general manager, NCB Employees Co-Operative Credit Union; Makeda Scott, general manager, Grace Co-Operative Credit Union; Sonia Taylor, general manager, Essential and Emergency Services & Partners Co-Operative Credit Union; and Jheanell Adjudah, general manager, Trelawny Co-op Credit Union.

I used the opportunity to call on the leaders to promote financial literacy, sharing with them the struggles that many retired people face because they were unaware in their earlier years of investment opportunities.

The credit union movement was created to serve humble Jamaicans when banks were beyond their reach.

Congratulations to the leaders for keeping the dream alive and thriving.

Jean Lowrie-Chin

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