There is no easy fix, but...Monday, April 19, 2021
NEWS of a video allegedly showing a Member of Parliament (MP) in a physical altercation with a woman first came to my attention from a statement by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange. When it made the rounds on social media I was shocked at the thought that any Jamaican lawmaker could possibly beat a woman so badly.
The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has announced that George Wright is no longer their representative, noting that he will be sitting as an Independent in the House. Our Jamaican laws state that, unless an MP is found guilty of a crime and is sentenced for more than six months, he/she cannot be removed from Parliament.
The police say they have interviewed Wright and a woman, Tannisha Singh, who had filed a complaint that she had been in a physical aaltercation with Wright. However, the decision is to take the case no further.
This issue of gender-based violence (GBV) is at endemic proportions in Jamaica. And, there have been heartbreaking stories of the abuse of our children, sexually and otherwise, in locations ironically described by the State as places of safety.
Then there are the monsters on our roads, killing and maiming innocent passengers. They are either ignorant or uncaring of the rules of the road. Indeed, I ask anti-vaxxers, why are you even going on the road when the possibility of your being injured in a crash is far greater than having a serious adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine?
Breakdown of family life
The root causes of some of these deadly issues are the breakdown of family life, the tolerance of indiscipline of the boy child, the normalising of criminal behaviour by clever gang leaders and in some popular lyrics. It is so sad to see talented musicians imprisoned as they fall victim to their own dangerous propaganda.
Family does not need to be a nuclear unit, as so many have been raised well by fierce and loving single parents, grandparents, and other responsible seniors.
We must be sympathetic to those Jamaicans torn between remaining with their families and seeking a decent living abroad. One particular Jamaican woman of whom I am aware worked hard for years in the US, sending home funds for her children. However, the individuals who had been entrusted with care for the children fell short. By the time she was ready to take them to live with her they had got into trouble with the law and could not apply for residency in the US. She returned home to try to pick up the pieces, but it has not been easy.
Our pathetic minimum wage and the lack of adherence to the decent work agenda, now facilitated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, is creating anger and frustration in our nation. What message does upper St Andrew send to the children of the inner city when they hear the reports of disrespect and see the frustration of their hard-working parents? There is no easy fix, but if we want to live safely in this Jamaica we had better step up to the myriad challenges as Government, private sector and ordinary citizens.
Milestone 'Earth Day' for ESL
Our environmental predicament is as serious as the social. Our very existence is threatened by both. We are one of the many small island developing states (SIDS) worldwide which are vulnerable to the deterioration of our environment.
Global warming may lead to rising seas that may obliterate our shorelines; consider the loss of our business districts, airports and resort areas. It pains me to see the thoughtless use of plastics in developed countries while we are here trying to do our part.
I remember our friend Professor Trevor Jackson, of blessed memory, remarking that Eleanor Jones would have been a professor of geology if she had not given up her position at The University of the West Indies (UWI) as a lecturer to start her business. Jones related that she had attended several conferences on environmental issues and decided, exactly 30 years ago, that it was time to stop talking about problems and begin to address them, thus founding her company, Environmental Solutions Limited (ESL).
The company's mission “to harmonise development with environmentally sustainable practices through the application of science, and standards of excellence” has been invaluable to the built environment here and throughout the Caribbean. The company's anniversary coincides with Earth Day 2021 to be celebrated this Thursday. ESL will mark the occasion with climate action, environmental health in schools, reforestation, and webinars.
Said she: “What a joy it is to have come this far and to have inspired many professionals, public and private sector leaders, and civil society to have contributed to the design and construction of environmentally sound projects in road, seaport, airport, sanitation, water supply and energy infrastructure, housing and resort development. To have championed international certification for health and analytical services in chemistry and microbiology.”
Congratulations to Eleanor Jones and her 30-strong staff of top professionals.
Digicel celebrates 20 years
I remember the evening of April 19, 2001 when, after months of planning, Marketing Manager Harry Smith and I were going over the programme for the launch of Digicel at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
“Oh, my Lord, Harry,” I exclaimed. “We don't have prayer on the programme!”
“Alright,” said Harry, “If you write it, I will say it.”
I wrote the words purposefully, asking God for His blessing on this brave new company.
I believe God heard us, and indeed that through His grace, Digicel Chairman Denis O'Brien became the answer to many prayers.
Overnight, even the humblest Jamaican could afford a phone; live-in household workers could stay connected to their families, seniors could call for assistance in emergencies.
It was exciting to attend the launch of Digicel in Trinidad, Barbados, and Haiti, and to see the energy of the teams, including our own Jamaicans rolling out the networks in the 32 countries in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific.
The Digicel Foundation was launched in 2004 and has funded islandwide projects for education, special needs and community development to the tune of over $60 billion. The most moving area of its operations has been the building of special needs schools which ensure that no matter what learning challenges our children face they are given a chance to achieve their full potential.
In addition to Jamaica, Digicel Foundations have been established in Haiti, Papua New Guinea and Trinidad & Tobago, and have contributed to positive outcomes for over three million people to date.
O'Brien was inducted as an honorary member of the Order of Jamaica and received an honorary doctorate from The UWI in 2015.
“The proudest part of all of that we have achieved over the years is that, as a company, we have our roots here in Jamaica,” he said in the graduation address on the occasion. “Without hesitation, Jamaica is the cornerstone of Digicel growth and development of all our 32 countries.”
Here's wishing Digicel a happy 20th anniversary and many more great years.
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