India to our aidMonday, March 01, 2021
Here we are in March 2021, one year after the COVID-19 alert was sounded in Jamaica and we closed down our offices, started working more from home, wearing masks, sanitising; doing all the right things to stay well. Meanwhile, some of our fellow citizens were partying and going maskless about their business and taking the illness home to their elderly relatives.
You better believe that these offenders are not all poor, uneducated Jamaicans; some are well-off people whose arrogance has risen to stupidity.
With our hospitals at capacity and our medical personnel in exhaustion, we welcomed the news last Friday that a generous gift of 50,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from the Indian Government will arrive this week. The Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica Masakui Rungsung said this was the result of the valiant efforts made with various agencies in his country: “This situation has given us sleepless nights,” he shared. Present at the announcement was Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, whose diplomatic skills have brought much goodwill to Jamaica. We thank High Commissioner Rungsung and his Government for this urgently needed contribution.
A letter widely circulated on various platforms from the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) requesting information on seniors in preparation for vaccine distribution was really meant for doctors and not the general public. Information regarding individuals over 60 should be supplied to their respective general practitioners so that the MAJ can collate and share it with the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
I understand that the sequence for the administering of vaccinations is, first, health and front line workers; second, the security forces; and, third, the elderly, defined as people over 60.
A US poll has revealed an encouraging high-acceptance level of the vaccine and we are hoping that this will be the same for Jamaica. There is a lot of anti-vaccine nonsense circulating on WhatsApp. Meanwhile, those of us with elderly relatives in countries where the vaccine is being administered are reassured by their messages that there may be discomfort for one or two days, but they are well and very relieved to have the protection of the vaccine.
There are now three vaccines approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and the single-shot Johnson & Johnson. We have been assured by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that, while they may not have 100 per cent effectiveness in preventing COVID-19, they have 100 per cent effectiveness in keeping those affected from becoming seriously ill and in need of hospital care. Well, if that is not enough assurance, I do not know what is.
Post office blues & NSWMA hope
Over the past month I received two registered mail slips from the post office. When we sent the first slip with the bearer he said they made a search and the package could not be found. We suspect that the package was a lovingly made Christmas decoration from our friend in Canada, who told us to look out for it.
Two weeks later the bearer took a second slip to the post office and was told that the mail was in a locked drawer and the person with the key was not there, so he should return the next day. Well, he returned on two more occasions and said he was told that the holder of the key was still absent. We will try again next week.
Last Thursday National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) garbage collectors, who we had awaited for two weeks, declared that we had too much garbage and moved off without collecting even one bag. I made a complaint to NSWMA Community Relations Manager Kimberley Blair. She was courteous and proactive, as within a few hours the truck arrived.
The area supervisor, Ms Campbell, who came with the truck explained that we were still over the allowed number of bags, but kindly allowed them to be collected. Blair shared the link to the NSWMA app that will make it easier to communicate with the company. We have resolved to recycle more of our garden waste to reduce the number of bags.
Jimmy Lawrence retires
Chairman of J Wray & Nephew Limited and Campari Group Jamaica Jimmy Lawrence retired recently after over 25 years of world-class leadership with the two companies. The elegant, understated Lawrence earned the respect of colleagues worldwide, serving on the board of the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers' Association (WIRSPA) and as chairman of the Spirits Pool Association, as well as the Jamaica Rum and Spirits Trade Association.
Born in St Ann, Lawrence is a York Castle High School alumnus and studied chemistry at The University of the West Indies (UWI). In an interview with the Jamaica Observer's H G Helps he recalled his mother's insistence on good etiquette and shared his passion for education, sponsoring scholarships for less fortunate children.
Helps quotes Lawrence: “In terms of other plans, being a scientist, I have inventions that I have logged. I have even filed for at least one patent in the US patent office... ideas that I have but when you get engrossed into working and being part of a team it just diminishes the available time and the drive to carry these things to an end. I think in my more relaxed years — retirement — these are some of the things that I would pursue more… I look forward to retiring… it's another phase and I want to be closer to my kids and my wife to enjoy the fruits of our labour as much as possible.”
We wish Jimmy Lawrence an enjoyable and adventurous retirement.
It has been a sad fortnight with news of the passing of Stephanie Scott, Greta Bogues, Calvin Bryan, and Rev Raphael Mason.
Scott's Restaurant Week initiative promoted restaurants and celebrated their outstanding chefs, while folks of modest means were given an affordable introduction to fine dining. Stephanie was always out of breath with enthusiasm, and those who caught her vision felt her joy for showcasing the best of her fellow Jamaicans and uplifting them with scholarships in the culinary arts.
Bogues was Jamaica's guru of governance; helping many board directors to understand their roles and responsibilities, and guiding them to give of their best. Even while pursuing doctoral studies and running the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), her church family at St Andrew Parish Church spoke of her faithful involvement in outreach activities. Never would she have drawn attention to her giving spirit, so we only learnt about it from her friends.
Bryan led the expansion of the popular Bryan's Photo Studio, and later handed over the management to his daughter, Nicole Jacobs. Even then he remained a welcoming and cordial presence at the studio and an active St Andrew justice of the peace.
Mason, of The Salvation Army, was an inspiring member of the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast Committee. We enjoyed his good humour and willing participation.
Our deepest condolence to the families of these wonderful Jamaicans. Let us carry on their loving work for their country.
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