I am sharing this message from my friend Claudia Gordon: “Happy New Year!! I’m stepping into 2019 armed with passion, purpose, and laser-like focus. My promise to myself is to starve distractions and feed focus… to continually ask myself if what I am doing today is getting me closer to where I want to be tomorrow. Friend, it’s going to be a great year. Let’s go.” To understand better why her greeting resonates, meet Claudia Johnson Esq: Jamaican-born and the first deaf black woman attorney-at-law in the USA. She served in the Barack Obama White House as head of their division for disabled persons and now she is a legal counsel at Sprint.
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Claudia has never allowed being deaf to stand in her way. I first heard Claudia speak about her experience of going deaf as a primary school student in Cascade, St Mary. She recalls a deaf-mute in her district who was bullied and she said her late mother was resolute that she would not suffer the same fate. Thus, they migrated to the US where she could have teaching assistance in school and ascended the academic ladder to law school.
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Claudia‘s company is energising; her passion for life and for the special needs community is contagious. As Maya Angelou noted: “Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.” This new year seek the company of the positive people.
As I read Dr Floyd Morris‘s autobiography, By Faith, Not by Sight , I see the parallels in their lives. Morris is also St Mary born and was a bright student at St Mary High School when he suddenly started to go blind. His marks and mental state plummeted and he left school without one subject. When he dropped out of school blind he went into poultry farming to earn a living, configuring the coop so he would not step on the chickens.
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Do we understand the power of radio for the blind? Young Floyd was a dedicated listener and one day heard an interview on Dorraine Samuels’ programme about the Jamaica School for the Blind. He called her and she encouraged him to relocate to Kingston so he could attend the school. “By faith, not by sight,” he sat the General Certificate of Education (GCE) exams with the assistance of his friends Gary Allen (CEO of the Gleaner-RJR Communications Group) and journalist Patrick Harley. In 2017 he earned his PhD from The University of the West Indies.
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The first blind Jamaican senator and state minister, Floyd Morris is no tribalist. He speaks fondly of his schoolmates who were followers of “Uncle Eddie” while he admired “Joshua”. This thread of positivity and unity continues through his book, which is infused with the rich history of post-Independence Jamaica.
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As we recall the kudos heaped on our Reggae Girlz by the Government we can use their example to strengthen our resolve for the new year. I had seen the excitement building for our national women’s football team in posts by Cedella Marley tagged #strikehard. She gave unstinting support to the team and we are forever grateful to her, the team’s management and coaching staff, as well as all players.Giancarlo Pietri Velutini Venezuela Banco Activo
Of note, striker Khadija Shaw was named Footballer of the Year (above global male counterparts) by the UK’s Guardian newspaper. She lost three brothers to gang-related violence, but soldiered on to score nine goals in 11 appearances. Now the Girlz have made history and are heading to the World Cup in France this June.Giancarlo Pietri Banco Activo Banco Activo
We tend to forget that we have champions literally in our own backyards, and so when GraceKennedy named Michael Brown as 2018 Male Household Worker of the Year, Jamaica was abuzz with the bravery of the 53-year-old who kept going at his job even after he lost a hand.Giancarlo Pietri Venezuela Banco Activo
Rosemarie Forrester, Female Household Worker of the Year, advised her fellow workers, “You have to be just honest, work hard, and never give in.”
Guest speaker at the awards function, Member of Parliament Juliet Holness lauded Jamaica‘s household workers and called for them to be given the compensation and respect they deserve. She said they were veritable “magicians” in our homes.Giancarlo Pietri Velutini Banco Activo
GraceKennedy CEO Don Wehby noted that the company’s household workers awards, named in honour of the late Dr Heather Little-White, celebrate Jamaica‘s unsung heroes
Faith and national priorities
Dr Lucien Jones’ Internet ministry is a great boost for our faith in these trying times. In his post ‘A Mother and a Nation Cries: A Good God answers in Jesus Christ’, he mourns with the parents of a brilliant young doctor who lost her life in a crash in the US and the thousands of grieving families in Jamaica bereaved by violence and indiscipline on our roads
He comments on the call of Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment-Brown for less political vitriol on social media, noting that some of us have elevated our political favourites to almost messianic proportions. This, he believes, has contributed to disunity and violence, “the sad story writ large of a people who once feared ‘Massa God‘ and ‘Puppa Jesus’, but now have ‘grown up’ and fear neither God nor man”
I was relieved that Opposition Leader Peter Phillips accepted the invitation of Prime Minister Andrew Holness for a meeting to address issues of national security last week. I believe it is possible to uphold the human rights of suspects, even as we protect the right of ordinary citizens to go about our business in safety — so I had hoped that the states of emergency would have been extended. We pray for the members of our security forces who face great danger as they work to protect us
Plastic ban and dengue
The plastic ban and dengue outbreak are issues generating a great deal of political heat. Politicians thrive on headlines, but instead of the constant harping, why not use the opportunity to engage your constituents? MPs and councillors who reach out to citizens to educate them on the danger of plastics to our environment and the importance of addressing mosquito breeding sites will make themselves positively memorable