The heroes in our midstMonday, October 19, 2020
This Heroes' Day, let us hear it for family, teachers, neighbours, church family, and club family, who are always calling, gifting, counselling. Let's hear it for the front line workers during these COVID-19 times who are working double and triple shifts to keep us safe and healthy, even as they are in and out of quarantine for being in contact with COVID-19-positive folks.
Let our hearts be warmed by the five heroes from the Bay Farm Road area who rescued 12-year-old Mikaila Robinson who had fallen into the raging waters of the Sandy Gully after last Wednesday's heavy rains. The men, who used a long rope to secure themselves, said it was difficult to keep their footing in the moving waters, but they had to try to save the child. Thank goodness, Mikaila was unhurt and the rescue went viral as we embraced this act of bravery.
Then there was the Ray of Hope feature on Television Jamaica, featuring a young farmer, Jermaine Black from Charlemont, St Catherine, who after seeking in vain for employment decided to take up farming five years ago.
“I am a proud farmer,” he declares. He started with one goat, and ended up with 27. He says while some do the nine-to-five, “Me go to the farm from Sunday to Sunday.”
As for too many other farmers, praedial larceny has been a plague for Jermaine. Now he has to tie his goats close to where he is working or lock them up. However, he refuses to give up.
“I love farming, and I love to take care of animals,” he says. Jermaine pleads to his fellow Jamaicans to invest in themselves and to persevere.
How will we nurture this courage in our people that they do not turn to cowardly acts of crime? Jermaine did enrol in a Human Employment and Resource Training/National Service Training Agency (HEART/NSTA) programme, but he still could not get a job. If someone had given him a care package it would have helped him for a week, but not a lifetime.
There are enough agencies and universities in Jamaica to help us put hands, hearts, and heads together to support our young graduates. Then we should promote their successes in media to attract and inspire unattached youth.
I remember years ago a young fisherman came to the Daily News office and shared with us that he had been arrested for robbery after yielding to the urging of young friends. He had served his time and was now trying to get funds to buy fishing equipment. We collected the funds for him and he gave us tearful thanks. A few weeks later he arrived with some of his best catch to share with us.
If we want to heal our country we must stop judging people after they have paid their debt to society and try to give them a chance. Sandra Ramsay, head of the Food For the Poor Prison Ministry, can tell you about the grateful Jamaicans whose fines are paid every Christmas and Easter for their prison release. They return to their families, resolute to create better lives for themselves.
In each of us dwells a hero who will spare the time to help a child or a parent struggling with virtual classes, take an elder for a check-up, or simply call a COVID-19-weary friend. Kudos to young Pastor Carrington Morgan, of City Life Ministries in Southside, Kingston. He became concerned about the elderly folks in the community who felt isolated because of COVID-19, so he contacted the Digicel Foundation asking for simple “banger” mobile phones. Now they can be in touch with him to share prayers of comfort.
Several Jamaican businesses are in a heroic struggle for survival as they try to save jobs. Island Grill's Thalia Lyn explained on the news that most of her employees are single mothers, the sole breadwinners for their households. Please plan with curfew hours in mind and try to support our businesses as we balance life and livelihood.
We recently attended the virtual awards presentation for the Caribbean Tree Planting: Empowering Youth Climate Action, held by the Clinton Global Initiative and the CariPhil Alliance. Jamaican Mary McLaughlin, the visionary founder of Trees That Feed is working along with 13 youth ambassadors in the Caribbean. She noted that nearly one-third of the target of one million trees had been planted over the past year in the following territories: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Croix, St Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago.
Additionally, the Haiti Small Holder Farmers Alliance, led by Thony Loui, had planted 300,540 trees. The Timberland company has been a sponsor of the Haiti project.
Congratulations to the young winners of the It Starts With a Seed competition: Copeland Smith of The Bahamas; Taniek Williams, Jamaica; and Abner Sauveur, Haiti.
These COVID-19 times have reminded us of the importance of food security. Let us plant trees that feed and give ourselves healthy local alternatives to imported over-processed foods.
A heart of gold
It is difficult to accept that we will no longer hear those affirming pep talks from the phenomenal Ena Wong Sam, who passed away recently. The founder of the popular distribution company Ena Wong Sam Limited at Norman Road in central Kingston, she was a self-made woman with a heart of gold. She told us that, each morning before the truck drivers for her company headed out, she would gather them and pray for their safety on the roads.
A dedicated justice of the peace for St Andrew, Ena went the extra mile to support various educational programmes. At a summer camp in St Thomas, sponsored by Chocolisto, one of her flagship products, she noted, “My passion is education. Many of the domestic problems that we are experiencing in Jamaica are simply because people cannot reason... and resort to violence... If we can assist them...we can save the lives of many of these children.”
The 87-year-old Ena Wong Sam was youthful in outlook and appearance. She encouraged her fellow women to be bold in their endeavours. “We are powerful,” she told the 51Percent Coalition movement. “We need to rise up!”
Her business associates remember her genuine interest in their progress. Wayne Chen noted on her passing, “A wise and wonderful lady who did many good works. She was always supportive of me over many years, generous with advice, and in so many other ways.”
Deon Edwards Kerr wrote, “I remember this lady being very gracious to my father while he was in business… on behalf of Benny's Wholesale, MoBay, grace and peace to the family of Ena Wong Sam.”
Ena Wong Sam taught us how to live – diligently, courageously, generously, and honestly. May her great soul rest in peace.
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