A Look in to the Deaf Community in Jamaica

Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf is one of seven schools in Jamaica under the umbrella organization of the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) that is geared towards the education for our Deaf children. There are approximately 54,000 deaf persons in our country and I believe it’s necessary to highlight their community.

I’m a member, and currently one of the directors, of the community service organization, The Rotaract Club of New Kingston (NKRC). At the beginning of the year we partnered with the students of Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf to produce art pieces under the theme ‘Impact Through Unity’. The proceeds from the art pieces were intended to be used for the school’s infrastructure, however COVID-19 halted the plans. Upon reopening school for final year students to sit CSEC exams, NKRC aided in the new protocol by providing face shields, hand sanitizers and an infrared thermometer. The partnership between the service organization and Lister Mair will continue throughout the year, but I thought this would be a great time for more persons to learn about the school and the Deaf community. Here is my interview with the Acting Principal of Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf, Mrs. Michelle Davidson-Wisdom.

How long have you been in the education system and what made you decide to take the post as Principal of Lister Mair/High School?

I’ve been in the education system for 34 years, but in Deaf education for 24 years. I moved up the ranks as a regular teacher to a senior and it became less of a job and more of something I loved to do. I applied for Vice Principal when the post became available and I’ve been Acting Principal since 2019.

It’s been a challenge and a wonderful experience. I’ve been in the system for a fairly long time and have seen so many things I would have wanted to get done but was never in the position to do so. Now that I’m here (as Principal) I have the opportunity to carry out my vision to transform the school into a premiere 21st century educational institution for the Deaf because I love it and feel passionately that Deaf persons deserve this type of facility. I look forward to seeing this transition.

Okay that’s great to hear. Would you like to highlight some of the ways in which you’d want to see the school develop?

Well we started Entrepreneurship in September 2019 and I would love to see that grow. Due to the language barrier it isn’t easy for Deaf persons to transition into traditional jobs, and they’re so many of them with gifts and talents but they don’t always have the certification to do these types of jobs.

We currently have a HEART/NCTVET (National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training) sponsored programme in the afternoons but it only offers Early Childhood Education and Cosmetology. I would love to see the vocational training aspect of our school grow to empower the students to start their own businesses. That is one of my major visions. I would also like to expand our community service programme through further networking so that more business persons can be made aware of the talents and skills of Deaf persons and by so doing increase the possibility for employment.

You spoke about entrepreneurship for most of the students, so what type of jobs do your students go into when they leave school and do they generally attain fulfillment from their roles?

Unfortunately, too many of our students leave school and are unable to find jobs which are fulfilling. The majority of them leave school and work in supermarkets, wholesale enterprises and hardware stores as minimum wage employees. Most times they are not involved because they don’t always have interpreters in things like staff meetings so they miss out on some information.

However, they can do and be so much more because we do CSEC and City & Guilds examinations and some do CAPE as well. Some past students attend University of Technology (Utech), UWI and Edna Manley College of the Visual & Performing Arts and are not just holding their own but also doing well. We’re making those connections (with tertiary institutions) so they can move into fields that they like and truly wish to be in. In all areas though, the communication barrier is always present and we are grateful for groups such as Caribbean Deaf Ministries and the JAD who work tirelessly to ensure that this gap is filled.

As you mention the communication barrier, doing my research I noted that children who are Deaf tend to have family members who are hearing and a large percentage of the family don’t know how to sign. Do you find that true for your student population, and how does your staff facilitate those families?

Yes, I would say about 90% of students come from hearing families. It’s a rare occasion when students have someone in the family that is also deaf. Especially when the student is hard of hearing, the family prefers for them to speak so the family members don’t need to learn sign language. The student then goes outside the family for socialization.

Through our counselling department and the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) Social Services, we provide classes that empower parents and other family members to learn the language and be more involved in the student’s school and social life. Over the last 3 years the JAD has launched a project in collaboration with USAID which promotes the learning of Jamaican Sign Language (JSL) for parents through workshops and that has brought about increased parent involvement, so we are making strides.

Now that we’re in this COVID-19 pandemic and most students still have to be home, how has your staff facilitated learning and how much of your student body is benefiting?

We use online platforms to engage our students currently and the engagement hasn’t dropped below 40% during this period. That is lower than we would like, but this is mainly because the students don’t have the electronic devices or their internet service is unreliable. The teachers have been utilizing Whatsapp which is more convenient for most students because it is more cost-effective than Zoom or Google classrooms when using a mobile data plan. They also use text messaging and emails. However, the face-to face learning is the best option for them.

What are some of the needs of the school and the student body other than what you just mentioned?

We need reliable internet service. I wouldn’t be able to do a Zoom meeting at school because the service is unreliable. We were previously on the pilot programme from E-learning in 2013/2014 so our computers are now old and obsolete. The major problem now is that CXC exams are going to be delivered completely online. The pandemic has given us the option of doing the exams on paper or computers for now, but I am concerned about the future when it will be delivered completely online.

For persons who don’t know much about the school, what are some of the accomplishments you’d like to highlight?

All the CXC exams are the same for my students as they are for their hearing counterparts. We send around 8–12 students for different exams each year and we generally get high numbers of passes particularly in subjects such as Visual Arts, Accounting, Information Technology and Electronic Document Preparation Management (EDPM). We have one student who received a TWO in English Language and she is now in her fourth year at UTech, and we are very proud of her. She is also the only Deaf student who has attempted Caribbean History and passed that as well. We also have had good passes for CAPE Communication Studies and Digital Media.

Our students generally do very well in dance. We are well-known in the JCDC Deaf Dance Competition and we are often invited to perform at different events.When we walk in the competition usually says “Oh, no they’re back!” Unfortunately, we have not entered the festival competition for the last two years due to some challenges, but we do intend to go back.

You mentioned that your students do well in many subjects, but generally get jobs that they are overqualified for because of lack of interpreters. What are some resources persons outside the Deaf community can use to learn Jamaican Sign Language (JSL)?

There are 3 groups that I know currently offer classes in JSL as opposed to American Sign Language. The first point of contact would be the Jamaica Association for the Deaf. There is also a group called PAH! formed by a member of JAD, Kamar Groves and his wife, Stephanie, and they are doing pretty well with their classes. They also began the first all Deaf dance group in Jamaica. Lastly, there is Toni Aiken, the Sign Language Interpreter for the government. Her father works at Lister Mair, and she is now offering a course in JSL.

We’re currently in the climate where persons are fighting against the discrimination of black people around the world. We also acknowledge that the Deaf community also faces discrimination. What would you like to say to persons who may hold those limiting beliefs?

When you’re looking at a Deaf person you are looking at a fellow human being who is a citizen of Jamaica with the same rights as every other citizen. They can do and aspire to be anything they want to in life because the only thing that is different is that they can’t hear. Persons will go to different countries and learn other languages, but I say we can also stay in Jamaica and learn Jamaican Sign Language as a second language because it is a language just the same as any other. As hearing persons we wouldn’t want anything impeding our daily lives, and a Deaf person feels the same. They simply cannot hear and I would love for them to be respected as human first. They want to access the same things and have the same rights as anyone else and that is important.

Okay, thank you so much, those are all my questions for now. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We thank the New Kingston Rotaract Club tremendously for stepping in and being our angels in so many ways. I’m so overwhelmed by all the help NKRC has given us, and my gratitude is on behalf of my staff and my board.

The only other thing I can think of is that we need help starting a breakfast programme. Our students are generally from lower socio-economic backgrounds and our school feeding programme has become insufficient, so we’d be grateful for the assistance.

If you’d like to assist Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf or know anyone who can, please contact +1(876)927–1261

International Coastal Clean-up Day

In celebration of International Coastal CleanUp Day on Saturday, September 21, 2019, the Rotaract Club of New Kingston partnered with Jamaica Environmental Trust (JET) to execute our contribution towards cleaning our coastlines. The project took place at the Palisadoes Go-Kart Track and it included our Rotary family. The Earlyactors from Queen’s Prep, the Interactors from St. George’s College and the Rotarians from our parent club RCNK also helped in the execution of the project.

The public benefitted from seeing our post as they were sensitized on suicide prevention and the club promoted Rotaract on a wider scale with the help of our social media pages such as Facebook and Instagram. The awareness raised was a joint initiative between NKRC and our twin club, Rotaract Club of Diego Martin.

NKRC’s Back to School Medical

The annual back to school medical which was executed took place at the Nannyville Community Center where we had representatives from the Lion’s Club doing free vision testing for the children and providing consultation to the parents as to whether their child/children would need glasses or their vision was perfect. The stations were set up so as to allow the free flow of individuals from one are to another. After they were finished testing their eyes they could then move to the dental station where two dentists were conducting teeth cleaning for the children. They also were able to get medical check-ups from several doctors on hand, two most notably are Dir. Kimberley and Rotarian Marvin from RCNK who made sure to do as thorough enough examination to ensure the kids had a clean bill of health and for those that needed to make any lifestyle adjustments their parents were given the requisite information to aid in making informed decisions as they approach the new school year. In addition there were representatives from the Road Safety Unit whom demonstrated to both the children and adults the do’s and don’ts of the road and the precautions which they must take to ensure their safety.

NKRC’s Survivor

The 11th annual camping trip “Survivor” happened on the 7-8 of March. We journeyed up to the cold Newcastle Base of the Jamaica Defense Force in the Hills of St. Andrew. We were joined by members, visiting Rotaractors, friends, an interactor and guests. The day was filled with excitement and activities that not only help members to bond but also show off some of the skills and many talents of our diverse club members and visitors. Persons where placed into four groups to participate and compete in fun games and activities that were planned. The team that accumulated the most points at the end of the experience received the privilege of being the ultimate champions.

Each group did their own interpretation of their theme and assigned groups based on various Earth Elements E.g. air, water, fire and selected a colour to represent them and all garments and head gear had to incorporate the colour that the group had selected. Each group also had a Queen and King who had to wear traditional element/tribe wear along with this they had to make up a chant and a flag to represent their element. The groups also showcased their creativity when they were given the task to design clothing out of natural vegetation as well as cartridge paper. The participants experienced great fun and engaged in fun fellowship activities. We even had time for a Lyme after the activities that ran late into the night. The survivor package included lunch and breakfast. The opportunity to hike was unfortunately cancelled due to inclement weather.

The Club’s annual survivor camping trip helps to improve the bond between members and it also introduces guests and other persons of the Rotary family to a new experience that helps build great memories.

NKRC’s Treat for the Homeless

The Rotaract Club of New Kingston (NKRC), carried out its annual ‘Feeding of the Homeless’ project on January 11, 2020. The wide range of services offered included dental cleanings, medical check-ups, screening services, clothing, STD testing and hair grooming services. The club joined forces with partners, such as, the UWI School of Nursing, the UWI School of Dentistry, Mona, Lions Club of Mona, Cari-Med Ltd, CB Foods Limited, members of other Rotaract Clubs (University of Technology, Kingston, and Liguanea Plains), Centre for HIV/AIDS Research, Education and Services (CHARES) and Gabrielle Burgess from our sponsor Suga Lifestyle to host the event at the Marie Atkins Night Shelter in Downtown, Kingston.

Over 180 persons benefited from the meals, personal and medical care provided by NKRC. It was a heartwarming feeling to help so many persons and they were truly appreciative as some of them expressed. We received donations in terms of medical items including cotton swabs, prescription pads etc. from our parent club (Rotary Club of New Kingston) to assist with the execution of the project.

ART-Tivity – Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf

The event was a joint venture with Rotary, Rotaract and Interact Clubs along with professional artists teaching twenty-three (23) students various forms of visual art such as, sculpting, painting and tie-dye that represent our theme “Impact Through Unity.” Approximately 3-4 hours each day January 25 and February 1, 2020 was spent creating the art pieces with the exhibition on February 8, 2020. The art pieces produced by the students were on full display at the showcase. The feedback was really great and encouraging for the students and all involved in the production. The aim was to allow the students to express themselves creatively while the showcase will be offered a medium to educate the larger community about the needs and accomplishments of the deaf/hard of hearing community.
All proceeds from the art pieces were donated to the Lister Mair/Gilby High School. This initiative was inspired by interacting with persons from the deaf/hard of hearing community in different vocational areas in corporate area and realizing the need for spotlight on the children in this community. An art project was chosen because it is one of the best avenues to connect with children while allowing increased confidence, improved decision-making and better academic performance.

The art supplies necessary were be provided by NKRC through the partnership with Suga Lifestyle a non-governmental organization spearheaded by former Rotaractor Gabrielle Burgess. The final art pieces were all presented and some of them sold at a pre-Valentine’s Day pop-up shop on February 8, 2020.

NKRC was successful in raising awareness of the deaf community amongst members and the general public thereby contribution to the reduction of stigmatization within the society at large. We want to remove that invisible barrier and create new friendships through socialization and art. We also wish to inspire students to be more comfortable pursuing their dreams/goals without boundaries. The theme for the art pieces was “Hands in Art” in recognition of the effort put in to create the various pieces of art.

Lupus Awareness Day 2019

 

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In recognition of World Lupus Day 2019, NKRC had a little chat with our club member Francine White. One of our longest serving members who has been with the club for 5 years and is currently living fabulously with Lupus!

  1. What is the official name of your diagnosis?

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease. In this disease, the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs.

  1. When were you diagnosed?

Suspected: 2013

Fully diagnosed: 2014

  1. What were your symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

Over the years before diagnosis, I was always presented with different symptoms for which they (Doctors) couldn’t find a definite cause. Symptoms such as pain all over my body, depression, uncontrollable anxiety, exhaustion, etc.

  1. How did you feel when you were diagnosed?

 I felt a mixture of happiness and sadness. Happy because I wasn’t crazy (I was back and forth to the doctor from I was in high school) and sad because I was actually sick.

  1. What has been your major challenge? 

 Asking for help when I need it and having to disappoint people sometimes. It is a very draining condition and it sucks all your energy to function on a day to day basis sometimes. One moment you are ok and the next moment you are genuinely not, so when you make plans you might have to disappoint people at times.

  1. How do you cope and manage with your diagnosis? 

 I manage my diagnosis by taking prescribed medications on a day to day basis and I cope by seeing where I want to be and knowing that I am not there yet and also knowing that this is just one aspect of my life and even though sometimes I have to take a step back to regroup, that is what I will do.

  1. You have been an exemplary Rotaractor and member of NKRC, how did you manage this with your diagnosis?

I don’t know how to explain how. At the time when I started coming to NKRC, I was just dealing with fully learning what it was that has been affecting me for so long and how it will affect me going forward.

I decided not to let it define me and so service is where I put my focus. By doing this I got to see that everyone is dealing with something and we all got to push through. Also, when you dedicate yourself to a cause you realize that for that time you forget your struggles by focusing on other persons and Rotaract gives me that moment all the time.

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  1. What would you like for persons and groups like Rotaract to do more?

Lupus is not one of those “sexy” conditions that is given much attention even in this Rotary/Rotaract circle. There is a foundation here in Jamaica that does a lot of work when it comes to spreading information and fighting for benefits for persons with Lupus. It is a very costly condition. The foundation always needs more help. So support the foundation some more. One good thing of late is that Government of Jamaica (GoJ) has finally added it to the NHF list of conditions so persons will be abler to access medications, but a lot more is still left to get done.

  1. What’s your message to other persons living with Lupus?

Live your life to the fullest (whatever that means to you) and don’t let Lupus define your life.

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International Woman’s Day Feature: #BalanceForBetter

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A Balanced world is a Better World. Today, March 8, 2019 we Celebrate women’s achievement by highlighting some powerful women within the family of Rotary and share their stories as inspiration, encouragement and beacon of triumph in their journey to #BalanceForBetter!

 

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Name: Novlet Amichele Green Deans

Rotary Club of: Liguanea Plains  

Position: Assistant Governor -Jamaica South Central

  1. How long have you been a Rotarian?

I have been a Rotarian for thirteen (13) years.

  1. How did you your Rotary journey start?

I am always searching for balance and though I didn’t actively set out to find a service club, I do believe the universe conspired in my favour and sent the opportunity through Professor Errol Morrison – the charter President of Liguanea Plains.  After my second visit to that club, I knew I was home.

  1. What major obstacle did you have to overcome throughout this journey?

Major personal obstacle was going through a divorce and simultaneously having to nurture my teenage daughter, keep a very demanding job, and serve as Club Secretary (a position which requires heightened focus).

Major professional obstacle was changing employers during the first year of serving as an Assistant Governor, in a local geographic location which was not only very distant from the 5 clubs which I supervised, but in an intense traffic zone. 

  1. “You can’t have it all” is a common statement uttered at women, how have you balanced personal, professional and service life?

‘All’ means different things to different persons.  All for me is the simple things, but that is for a different discussion.  Over the years, I have learnt that your choices shape your life and if you want a different outcome then make a different choice.  The elusive ‘Balance’ I have attained in different phases of my life and oftentimes I have lost it without even realizing.  However, whenever I feel out of balance and overwhelmed, I introspect, refocus and try again.  After all that is what life is about… surviving the challenges, go where you are appreciated and just dance.

  1. What would you say has been your greatest service accomplishment?

At the end of 2017-2018 admin year and under my supervision as Assistant Governor, the Jamaica South Central Rotary Clubs (Liguanea Plains, St. Andrew North, Manor Park, New Kingston, Downtown Kingston) being recognized by Past District Governor Robert Leger as one of the most accomplished regions in District 7020. Like any other human being, I am motivated by recognition and rewards, what can I say…

  1. What would you say has been your greatest professional accomplishment?

I don’t know if I single out a particular area or activity.  My greatest joy is putting together a team and watching that team soar.   Positively influencing individuals to achieve the desired outcome is what gives effective leaders “the thrill”.  I have been fortunate to experience this “thrill” on numerous occasions.     

  1. What advice would you give to young women within the family of Rotary (Interact, Rotaract, Rotary)?

Be the best version of yourself always!  Do that by going the extra mile to invest in you – to be the best Interactor/Rotaractor/Rotarian; to gain experience by visiting other clubs; by travelling, researching and being curious.  Lead visibly because you are as good as your supervisor thinks that you are and while you are doing all of that, be very true to yourself.  Sit down and audit you by identifying what is really important to you and what you find the most joy in doing.   When you do know, DO THAT!

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Name: Rose-Marie Gibbs (Mrs.)  

Rotary club of: New Kingston

Position: Past President

  1. How long have you been a Rotarian?

My 9th anniversary as a Rotarian will be on April 30th which incidentally will also mark the 29th anniversary of the founding of the Rotary Club of New Kingston.

  1. How did your Rotary journey start?

An invitation was extended to me by a Rotarian who had served in the same post of Governor General’s Secretary which I was occupying when I met him. He intimated that a former Governor General had recommended to him to join a Service Club while serving in that post and he had no regrets having followed that advice and joined Rotary as a member of the Rotary Club of New Kingston. He felt that it was good advice that he should pass on to me as a successor in the post. His persistence and ability to convince me that I had nothing to lose but all to gain worked and so I began attending meetings as his guest in 2009. That was to continue on and off until April 2010 when I was inducted as a member.    

  1. What major obstacle did you have to overcome throughout this journey?

Being accepted in a Rotary Club that had no female members and  in which there seemed to have been a reluctance to admit women to its membership, was a major challenge for me in the same way that it was a challenge  for some of the male members who up to then, were not receptive to the decision taken by Rotary International, pursuant to a 1987 US Supreme Court ruling,  to change the Standard Rotary Club Constitution that would remove the gender qualification bar and allow women to be admitted to the membership of Rotary Clubs worldwide.  

  1. “You can’t have it all” is a common statement uttered at women, how have you balanced personal, professional and service life?

There is no palpable conflict between them for me. The key is how to manage your time and to prioritise your commitments and obligations in such a way that neither your personal, professional nor service life is short-changed.

  1. What would you say has been your greatest service accomplishment?

As the first female member and the first female President of the Rotary Club of New Kingston that is undoubtedly a historic and trailblazing achievement.  As far as service is concerned, being afforded the opportunity to give of my professional skills as an Attorney-at-Law to my Club has also been a major accomplishment. Such service includes giving legal advice and guidance on a range of matters as well as reviewing and updating the Club’s Constitution and Bylaws in keeping with the decisions of the legislative arm of Rotary International, the Council on Legislation.

  1. What would you say has been your greatest professional accomplishment?

Having served as a Legal Officer/Adviser in the Jamaica Government Service which entailed engagement in the formulation and development of areas of Social Policy, Legislative Policy and Governance have been the hall marks of my professional achievements.

  1. .What advice would you give to young women within the family of Rotary (Interact, Rotaract, Rotary)?

Recognise that women are the persons who are closest to the heartbeat of their communities and so are able to readily discern the needs of those communities. Therefore, our responsibilities as female members of the Rotary family include identifying those needs, proposing and following through with workable plans and projects for our clubs that can make a difference in these communities. Always remember that your involvement in Rotary is not about self-aggrandisement nor status-seeking, but must be guided by the Rotary motto  “Service above Self” and doing good in the world to make it a better place for all of us and those who will come after us.  Finally, be guided always by the Four Way Test and you will never rue the day you became a member of the family of Rotary because your answers to those four questions will give  you the moral compass by which to live your life and touch the lives of others.

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Name: Abbi E. Christopher

Rotary club of: Tortola

Position: District 7020 Rotaract Chairperson

  1. How long have you been a Rotarian?

On paper, since 22nd November, 2012 but I have always lived the life of a Rotarian, I just didn’t label it.

  1. How did you your Rotary journey start?

I joined the Rotaract Club of Tortola in 2004 after returning from University. A close friend was earmarked to become the next President-Elect and invited me.

  1. What major obstacle did you have to overcome throughout this journey?

At the time, I believed the day needed more hours to allow me to engage in all that I wished. I participated in several service organisations, served on boards for other interest groups and was at the start of my career. Becoming a Rotaractor didn’t seem like a luxury I could afford. 

  1. “You can’t have it all” is a common statement uttered at women, how have you balanced personal, professional and service life?

I have learned the difference between ‘doing something’ and ‘getting it done’. Building a capable team and having a network of skill-sets that minimise the personal effort and hours that you exhaust to accomplish tasks frees valuable time to invest in other pursuits. Another key concept was building the habit of rest. If you believe there are 24 hours in a day you run the risk of scheduling 24 hours of work. My day has 18 hours and my schedule includes blocks of time to nurture friendships and for personal growth just as work appointments and service opportunities are scheduled. There is a clarity that comes when you decide what deserves your time and it empowers you to refuse the things that don’t.

  1. What would you say has been your greatest service accomplishment?

There have been many indelible moments in my life tied to service and I couldn’t begin to pick a top 10, furthermore a greatest. I could, with comfort, identify a commonality among the top 50… youth.  Inspiring a change or igniting a spark within someone with more opportunity, passion and even potential than yourself is quite possibly the most humbling and gratifying single act that can be done. A parent once asked me if I knew that I had to be my very best because their child was watching and aspiring to be like me and the child quickly corrected the parent, “I don’t want to be like Miss Abbi…I’m going to be better and then I’ll help someone else to be better than me”. To some it might be a small thing but to me it was everything.  A simple lesson I try to put out into the world.  Don’t aspire to emulate those that inspire you…surpass them. 

  1. What would you say has been your greatest professional accomplishment?

I can rarely speak about my work in detail but I met a system of “best practices” and now my name is often associated with “innovation”. There are many that change things but I can take pride in knowing that my name is associated with changing things for the better. 

  1. What advice would you give to young women within the family of Rotary (Interact, Rotaract, Rotary)?

 Remember that every superhero has their own origin story. Every day you have a new opportunity to add to the story of your life. Live the legacy you wish to leave. Perfection is knowing that you are flawed but still being able to celebrate it. 

gisel trini

Name: Giselle Holder

Rotary club of: Maraval- Trinidad and Tobago (D7030)

 How long have you been in the family of Rotary?

I became a Rotaractor in January 2007, then was pinned as a Rotarian in 2017. So 12 years strong 💪🏿

 How did you your Rota journey start?

I came for the lime!! The Rotaract club of Tobago has an event called Tobago New Year’s camp. A friend invited me to attend as it was good and affordable fun and the experience was Fantastic! On the way back to Trinidad, there was a Rotaractor from Port of Spain West who also happened to be on the boat as well. We were introduced and well, the rest is history…

 What major obstacle have you had to overcome throughout this journey?

There were no major obstacles but several little ones namely time management, learning more about the good and the not so good about my personality and growing up / becoming mature along the way when things don’t go my way.

  1. “You can’t have it all” is a common statement uttered at women, how have you balanced personal, professional and service life?

I believe that once you are meant to do something everything else falls in place. I never once had an issue with my work and my Rotary commitments. My personal life was a bit more challenging but thankfully my Rotary family became his family as well so it worked out.

  1. What would you say has been your greatest service accomplishment?

I can’t name one for you as each time I participate in a Service project the feeling I get is unforgettable and cannot easily be described. I have always been fortunate to be around genuine and giving Rotaractors and Rotarians who give effortlessly of their time and talent and gracious members of the community who are always grateful and give so much more in return

  1. What would you say has been your greatest professional accomplishment?

Achieving my Masters in Facilities Management was very cool.. I am one of very few women in my country who is certified at this level in this industry

  1. What advice would you give to young women within the family of Rotary (Interact, Rotaract, Rotary)?

Stay true to yourself but don’t be afraid to try new things that will help broaden your comfort zone!

  1. What is your current profession and how has this fit into your Rota service?

I was recently appointed as a Director in the company I have worked for over the past 10 years. I work within the project management and facilities management consultancy fields. Both fields have assisted my experience in Rotaract and Rotary as I was able to improve my leadership skills from my Rotaract experience which enhanced my work experience while bringing my technical skills from my job to Rotaract and Rotary in our project planning  and brainstorming exercises.

akilah

Name: Akilah N. Corbin

Rotaract Club of: Tortola

  1. How long have you been in the family of Rotary?

I have been in the family of Rotary since 2014

  1. How did you your Rota journey start?

My Rota-journey started in an unusual way. I was very much interested in doing community work and was actually considering another organisation, BUT I happened to be assisting with decorations for a prom and there were two Rotaractors there talking about their new Board installation dinner. This led to an invite to a meeting and here we are just about five years later.

  1. What major obstacle have you had to overcome throughout this journey?

Rotaract has taught me some formative lessons, not only through the opportunities but through the challenges. A major obstacle that I had to overcome was ‘loosening the reigns’. I tend to know very clearly what and how I want things to be done but being in Rotaract has taught me to accept the value that team members are able to contribute. 

  1. “You can’t have it all” is a common statement uttered at women, how have you balanced personal, professional and service life?

Balancing personal, professional and service life can admittedly be challenging. I think the best way to describe my method is to anticipate hectic periods, prepare ahead of time, to the extent that you can, and prioritise – and reprioritise continuously. Also, know when to take breaks and utilise the resources that you have so that you can achieve that balance.

  1. What would you say has been your greatest service accomplishment?

My greatest service accomplishment was leading our Club’s District Grant Project which focused on the BVI Autism Centre. This project brought together Rotarians, Rotaractors and members of the community to execute the project. It was multifaceted including an awareness campaign, fundraisers, creation of sensory boxes for children who attend the Centre, the donation of teaching tools and the training of Rotaractors on skills for working with special needs children.

  1. What would you say has been your greatest professional accomplishment?

My greatest professional accomplishment was an assignment to work with the Deputy Governor of the Virgin Islands. You may have heard the phrase, ‘let your work speak for itself’, and being requested to do this job was a manifestation of that. This was by far the most challenging job but equally rewarding experience. It was a ‘get it done, done quickly and done well’ job and it pushed me, exposed me to several professionals within and outside the Public Service and sharpened my skills. Lesson here, always give your all.

  1. What advice would you give to young women within the family of Rotary (Interact, Rotaract, Rotary)?

Embrace discomfort. It is so easy to run away from, or give up on, situations that we cannot easily figure out, or that are disappointing, or where there is little support – embrace the discomfort, take a moment to find the lesson and move forward. This is the preparation for the next leg of your journey.

Know your ‘why’ – this may be a cliché now but it is so important. When you encounter challenges, or that discomfort I mentioned creeps in, if you know your ‘why’ very clearly, you can maintain your motivation through your journey. I write my ‘why’ for various undertakings on a post-it note and stick on my wall – in those moments of frustration and despondency, I remind myself of my ‘why’.

  1. What is your current profession and how has this fit into your Rota service?

I worked in Human Resources for 8 years, specifically in the area of policy and programme development and that fit very well into my Rota-journey in terms of project planning and execution. I always enjoy seeing a project come to fruition and the community served well.

 

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Name: Anique Senior

Rotaract Club of: New Kingston

  1. How long have you been in the family of Rotary?

    It’s been almost 10 years being a part of Rotary.

  1. How did your Rota journey start?

It all started in high school. The need arose to join another club (as one would do at St. Andrew High) and I stumbled upon the Interact Club there. It was all uphill from there.

  1. What major obstacle have you had to overcome throughout this journey?

One of the major obstacles was staying true to oneself. It’s evident that Rotary is a melting pot of personalities and it was almost always difficult to find my footing. I later learned it was easier to be myself once I adapted the culture of service. That in itself unites any nationality or personality and once that was understood, it became a lot easier for me.

  1. “You can’t have it all” is a common statement uttered at women; how have you balanced personal, professional and service life?

This has always been the hardest challenge for me, without a doubt, as I am committed to all those aspect of my life.   What I had to learn was

a) Compartmentalizing- Knowing that each served a major role in my life and trying to not let one negatively impact the other. Easier said than done, but I have learned to manage.

b) Inclusivity- Though not always directly, I included my personal life, and to a much lesser extent, my professional life, in my Rotary life. My partner and parents knew what I was doing and helped in whatever way they could and my superiors at work knew the role I played and I included them by inviting them to events and/or by asking them to donate to our causes. It wasn’t always perfect, but it made the load lighter.

c) Prioritizing- There will come a time where one of those aspects of your life will take precedence of the other. Knowing when to prioritize can help you better manage all three. I love the service and fellowship life and so I focused on that for a little while, then my academics took over and I had to put that first. Then in recent times, I had to put my personal life first and this meant sacrificing my service life for a little while. One thing I definitely understood was that you always can find your way back to service, whether by trying to pick up where you left off, or by using the knowledge gained through service to apply to other areas. Either way, once you are committed to the cause, it becomes you, whether you’re in the Rota family or choose to focus on other areas of your life.

  1. What would you say has been your greatest professional accomplishment?

This is still on my “To Do” list as I am not yet where I want to be professionally. One thing I do know is that I am now better equipped to take the next step and this has been through the support of some my family, Rota family and friends.

  1. What would you say is your greatest service accomplishment?

Becoming the Director of Professional Development and later winning the Director of the year award for 2017-2018. Looking back, I did enjoy working in that post, minus the migraine, stress and anxiety (but that’s a typical day for Anique). I can’t do anything just for the sake of doing it, therefore I had to attach purpose to all the projects/initiatives executed. This created a deeper understanding of service for me once I knew who I was serving, why I was providing this service to them and what they stood to gain from it all. I am grateful to IPP Diego for seeing something in me that at the time, could not understand why he would even consider me. I now get it and I am a better person as a result of it.

  1. What advice would you give to young women within the family of Rotary (Interact, Rotaract, Rotary)?

Never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. It is a crippling place to be and Rotary does everything to bring you out of that space. Accept it. Embrace it. You’ll be thankful for it.

Whether you decide to continue your Rota-journey, know that you should leave a changed person and it is always for the better. You learn so much about yourself; your likes, dislikes, tolerance level, personality clashes, your strengths and weaknesses.

It so much more than service, it’s a lifestyle. I have met so many wonderful people doing this work and you will too once you give yourself that fighting chance to be better. You won’t regret it.

Know your footing. You won’t be able to fit into every aspect of Rotary life, but understand that the common denominator is service. If you have a passion to give back, to contribute to the greater good, no matter how minute, you’ve already done a good job and you will be rewarded for it.

Women have come a far way in Rotary and are now not afraid to show the world what they can achieve. Aim to be a part of that change. We now have a voice in service and in the famous words of Mohammad Ali “No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men”. Enough said.

  1. What is your current profession and how has this fit into your Rota service?

 I am an Experimental Technician (fancy way of saying Senior Lab Tech) at Berger Paints Jamaica. For a while, I tried to understand what role I played in Rotary through my profession, but I’ve come to understand that was never about the profession for me, but rather the person. I could be employed as a Street Sweeper and I would still manage to give as much as I can to the cause. If your profession fits into any of the focus areas of Rotary, that’s great; if not, then that’s fine too. There is always going to be a place for you and a way for you to contribute. That’s the beauty of Rotary.

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Name: Julie Ramchandani

Rotary club of: St. Martin Sunset

  1. How long have you been a Rotarian?

 5 years a Rotarian, 8 years a Rotaractor

  1. How did you your Rotary journey start?

Was invited by a friend to a Rotaract meeting

  1. What major obstacle did you have to overcome throughout this journey?

Being a part of the core group starting a new Rotary club…..faced many challenges and resistance from other clubs 

  1. “You can’t have it all” is a common statement uttered at women, how have you balanced personal, professional and service life?

Time Management.  When you love Rotary, it’s not a chore to go to a meeting or participate in a project. I think that rule applies to most things in life. When you love your job you look forward to going there every morning. When you love your husband,  you want to cook and clean and do all those things for him.  So when it’s about doing things you love…..its not so much about balancing it all but just making sure to incorporate all the things you love into your life. 

  1. What would you say has been your greatest service accomplishment?

Implementing the JFLL program in my Rotaract club (NKRC).  The impact of this project has been tremendous and I am extremely proud that the club still participates in it today. 

  1. What would you say has been your greatest professional accomplishment?

Being promoted within 6 months of starting my job. 

  1. What advice would you give to young women within the family of Rotary (Interact, Rotaract, Rotary)?

Keep going. Do it for you. As women we tend to live our lives always doing things for others, being wives to our husbands, being mothers to our children, being daughters to our parents, being career driven and constantly having to prove ourselves in our male dominated societies…..but Rotary is for you….it is about you….where you get to shine. So keep at it for your own sake….because it makes you happy. 

 

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Name: Vivette Hamilton

Rotaract Club of: New Kingston

  1. 1. How long have you been in the family of Rotary?

12 Years – St. Andrews Highschool Interact (3yrs) UWI Rotaract (3yrs) NKRC (6yrs)

  1. How did you your Rota journey start?

As an Interactor I was exposed to the family of Rotary. I knew from then that the next phase would lead me into Rotaract. UWI had a vibrant club and without a doubt I became an active member. My time spent there was so fulfilling, fun and my passion for service grew. I was introduced to the community-based Rotaract clubs, visited a few as well, however NKRC caught my eyes because of the warm friendly atmosphere and since then I have been hooked, the rest is history.

  1. What major obstacle have you had to overcome throughout this journey?

Rotaract has helped me to hone my leadership skills having served as Director and being a part of so many committees. It has allowed me to gain confidence in myself and my decisions.

  1. “You can’t have it all” is a common statement uttered at women, how have you balanced personal, professional and service life?

I’m a strong believer that we will make time for what’s important to us and I have tried to live a life that is well balanced incorporating all the elements. My professional life is priority after all it pays the bills. But all work and no play is no fun at all. Making time for Rotaract, personal life and other activities that I love such as running and going on adventures are just as important and have to all fit. Yes, Rotaract can be demanding, but establishing a limit is key, for me reminding myself that I can’t do everything (even though I really want) is paramount. Scheduling and setting goals have become a big part of my routine and this has assisted in structuring my balance. I think you can have it all if you can define what all means to you and committed to making it work.

  1. What would you say has been your greatest service accomplishment?

My greatest service accomplishment was serving as District Events Chair; this had afforded me the opportunity to work with Rotaractors across the district. Planning D7020 PETS was one of the highlights and it was an amazing experience coordinating a successful event which provided an opportunity for individuals to learn about Rotaract and Rotary.

  1. What would you say has been your greatest professional accomplishment?

I recently completed my master’s degree and it was one of the most challenging, stressful periods of my life, I literally cried a couple times when the pressure got overwhelming. Looking back now, I can say it was a life changing and rewarding experience and the support of friends and family was my saving grace.

  1. What advice would you give to young women within the family of Rotary (Interact, Rotaract, Rotary)?

Always strive to be the best version of you, constantly improving yourself and encourage others to do the same. Enjoy the Rotaract journey, get involved within your club and even at the District level, attend conferences and seek out international opportunities such as RYLA and Convention. Rotaract has a lot to offer and you can benefit holistic from this experience.

 

  1. What is your current profession and how has this fit into your Rota service?

I am employed as a Business Analyst under the Public Sector Transformation Unit which has exposed me to managing projects. This is a skill that can be extended to Rotaract and the many projects that are planned and executed each year.

 

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Stronger than Cancer

 

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Cancer is a broad term that describes the disease that results when cellular changes cause the uncontrolled growth and division of cells. Some types of cancer cause rapid cell growth, while others cause cells to grow and divide at a slower rate. 
It is a debilitating disease that wreaks havoc not only on an individual’s body, but can devastate lives and families. 

In commemoration of World Cancer Day we had a chat with Rtr. Brenesha Bryan about her experience and journey with Cancer.

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Which Cancer do you have and at what stage?

Kidney Cancer – Stage 1

When were you diagnosed?
December 2017

What were your symptoms that led to your diagnosis?
Severe back pain, swelling  of the legs, retaining  fluid/ have problem to past urine

How did you feel when you were diagnosed?

Like I’m dying and all hope was gone

What has been your major challenge?
My major challenge was to eat healthy, so I gave up certain foods. And I also couldn’t  keep down food.

How do you cope and manage? 
At first I wasn’t  coping well until i was introduced to the Rotaract  Club of New Kingston, that welcomed me with  open arms.  The energy  push me to keep on the right path.  Managing is hard so my parents help me to keep on track and I make sure I do all my treatments on the given dates.

What would you like for persons and groups like Rotaract to do more?
Promote  against things that cause cancer and try their best to try and help someone  that have cancer because just by communicating  with someone it  makes a major change in their  lives. You just might give them hope and you don’t even know.

What’s your message to other persons battling Cancer?
My message to others is  to not give up hope.  Fight it because I know you are stronger that it . Take your medication  and find a club or similar initiative. It makes your mind clear by the activities the club do. 
Do something that you always wanted to achieve, because  you will use your time fighting  and time will pass by so easy and you won’t even realize . 
Let’s not make cancer kill you, you kill cancer.

Quarter 2 Round Up 2018/2019 Year

Youth Leadership Seminar, October 20, 2018
On October 20, 2018, our members and prospective members attended the Youth Leadership Seminar held at The Montego Bay Community College, St James. Attendees were provided with the opportunity to learn new ideas from the sessions attended regarding Rotary & Rotaract as well as their personal & professional development.

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Rotary Liaison Committee

Joint meeting, St. Georges College Interact Club, November 1, 2018
On Thursday November 1, 2018, our General Meeting was co-chaired by the St. Georges College Interact Club. There was also a fantastic panel discussion in recognition of World Interact Week where our own Rtr. Anique, President Vanessa as well as Rtn. Wayne and Rtn. Julio from our parent club shared their many experiences as interactors during their high school days.

International Tree Planting Day, October 5, 2018
Some of our members joined our sponsor club, The Rotary Club of New Kingston and The Interact Club of St. Georges College, where we planted several trees on the compound of the school in recognition of International Tree Planting Day.

Induction Ceremony of Rtn. Patrick Forrest, November 5, 2018
The Rotary Club of St. Andrew North inducted Patrick Forrest for membership. Members of NKRC came out in their numbers to support Patrick as he prepared to embark on a new journey with his new rotary family and continue to serve communities via impactful projects. AG Novlet was in attendance to assist with his induction ceremony. As well as supporting Rtn’s and past NKRC members such as Rtn. Wayne Thorpe, Rtn. Ryan McKenzie and Rtn. Donair Wilmouth.


St. Georges College Pinning Ceremony, November 7, 2018
We were honoured to be in attendance of The St. Georges College Interact club’s pinning ceremony of their board of directors and members. We were also delighted in the handover of their new banner.

Visit to The Earlyact Club of Queens Prep. School, November 8, 2018
We had an amazing morning with the Earlyactors where President Peta-Gaye from our sponsor club explained to the children the meaning of The Four Way Test.


Joint meeting and project between The Rotary Club of New Kingston, The St. Georges College Interact Club & The Earlyact Club of the Queens Prep School, November 9, 2018
On November 9, 2018 we had an exciting joint meeting as well as a joint project at the Kintyre Basic School. Donation as as well as a reading session was held and it was truly a fantastic day.

Guest Speaker, Rtr. Antoinette, November 16, 2018
Our very own Rtr. Antoinette McDonald was the guest speaker at our Sponsor club’s meeting on November 16, 2018.

Guest Speaker, Rtr. Sean Nelson, November 19, 2018
In recognition of International Men’s Day, our very own Rtr. Sean Nelson was the guest speaker at Calabar High School’s Interact club.

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Rotary, Rotaract and Interact Club Visits
Some of members kept busy during quarter 2 when they visited Interact Club of St. George’s College and various Rotaract and Rotary Clubs in and out of Jamaica-East. Some of the club’s engagements were with the Rotaract Club of Liguanea Plains, Rotaract Club of Kingston, Rotaract Club of May Pen, Rotary Club of Downtown Kingston, Rotary Club of Liguanea Plains, Rotary Club of New Kingston and the Rotary Club of St. Andrew North. Members also visited the Earlyact Club of Queens Preparatory School.

Community Service Committee

“Remove the tape, Fly the gate”, Training session, October 6, 2018
We hosted a Youth Empowerment Workshop at The St. Matthews Church Hall in the community of Allman Town. Sessions held were on personal branding, stress management and finance management.


Jamaica for Lifelong Learning, November- December 10, 2018
Every Monday members were scheduled to visit Saxthorpe Methodist Church and Bethel Baptists church where they taught basic mathematics to Jamaica for Life Long Learning Programme participants of varying ages.


Hospital and Donation Visit, November 24, 2018
We visited the University of the West Indies Hospital, children’s ward and made a donation of items for newborn babies. We received new born items from the Azan Supercentre which included numerous bottles, clothes, socks, toys, blankets and a bath pan.

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Christmas Treat 2018, December 8, 2018
The Tegwyn Unit of Jamaica National Children’s Home relies solely on aid from the government and donations which more often than not is insufficient. As a result, they face numerous challenges daily. The treat was not only geared towards acquiring the items needed by the unit, but also aimed to provide a day filled with fun and excitement for the children. The activities/rides/amenities included a Bounce-A-Bout, hair grooming, popcorn machine, creative corner & other games led by volunteers. This project was funded solely by our club and we raised additional funds by having a raffle during our December 6th general meeting which was won by rotaractor Shantel Baker.

 

SugaLifestyle Christmas Connection Tradeshow, December 15, 2018
some of our members were able to assist SugaLifestyle with their amazing Christmas Tradeshow where handcrafted, handmade Jamaica items were sold. We have to also thank SugaLifestyle for their generous donation towards one of our staple projects, the feeding of the homeless at The Marie Atkins shelter in Downtown, Kingston.

 

International Service Committee
Women of Tomorrow Workshop, October 13, 2018
We hosted our Women of Tomorrow workshop at the Girl Guides Association Auditorium. This was partnership with The National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons. There were both presentations and booths set up for viewing.

End Polio Now Walk-a-Thon, October 27, 2018
Our First End Polio Now Walk-a-Thon was held on October 27, 2018. The aim of project was to raise funds in a fun way that would benefit participants. The money raised will be donated to the END POLIO NOW FOUNDATION created by Rotary International. Participants were asked to donate a registration fee of$2000JMD. The Walk-A-Thon was held on the grounds of the Mona Dam and commenced at 6:00AM to 8:00AM.


International Men’s Day, November 17, 2018

On November 17, 2018, we went to the Jamaica National Children’s Home where we had a motivational session with the boys aged 6-16 under the theme “Positive Male Role Models” in recognition of International Men’s Day. We then joined our sponsor club at their Health Fair and assisted where necessary.


Health and Lifestyle Symposium, December 1, 2018
Our fourth annual Health and Lifestyle Symposium was held on December 1st where community members were treated to a day of medical checks, dental cleanings, eye screenings, blood and sugar tests. Members of the community were also able to get Free HIV/STI tests in recognition of world aids day. Not only were persons able to get free tests and checks, there was a rigourous exercise session led by Jamaica moves and Sweet Energy Fitness.

Fundraising Committee

Evoke: Y2k Skoolaz Edition, November 24, 2018
On November 24, 2018 we held our annual fundraiser Evoke at The Escape 24/7 Bar and grill. Tickets were still $500! Yes only $500 where patrons got to enjoy the easy and lit music by Dj Flexi!!! Patrons enjoyed and danced the night away to music from the 2000’s and onwards. Let’s not forget members coming out in the alma mater school colours and repping greatly for the night.


Re-Use Don’t Abuse Campaign, November 28, 2018
A fantastic campaign launch geared towards the preparation of the plastic ban in our country which would be effective on January 1, 219. Persons would be able to purchase reusable bags, straws and water bottles. All proceeds made from sales would be in aid of our service projects. Bags are being sold at $800 and $400 for two straws, full silicone and stainless steel with silicone tips.


Professional Development Commitee
Learn Something New, November 21, 2018
We continued our Learn Something New Learning Series with a Self Defence Workshop. It was an interactive session where members, prospectives and guests were taught basic and practical self defence techniques to help protect themselves if they were to be attacked. It was not only a great learning experience but FUN as well.


Club Service Committee
Membership Celebrations
We love to celebrate our members. Happy Members, Happy club. We had numerous membership birthdays throughout quarter 2. We had members celebrating up to 4 years of membership in the club. We’re always thankful for our members and we’re continually grateful to have such dedicated members in NKRC.

Fifth Thursday Lyme, Salsa Edition, November 29, 2018
We had such a blast learning the smooth moves of the famous Salsa Dance. Members quickly caught on to the steps and were surely ready to take on any salsa challenge given to them. We also had members from the Rotaract Club of St. Andrew and The Rotaract Club of Kingston join us for this interactive session.


Induction Ceremony, December 6, 2018
On December 6, 2018 we welcomed 8 new members to The Rotaract Club of New Kingston. It was a fantastic end to a truly fantastic year. Newly inducted members Rtr. Nick, Rtr. Kerisa, Rtr, Dwayne, Rtr. Brenesha, Rtr.Dana, Rtrr. Antonet, Rtr. Keon and Rtr. Alecia. This induction is especially significant to us as it marked NKRC’s membership reaching a whopping 50 members. A first in the club’s history and also symbolic to 50 years of Rotaract service in the world!

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Christmas Dinner 2018, December 16, 2018.
Our annual Christmas dinner was an exciting occasion where members and prospectives followed through to the t with the theme handed to them. We were treated to a bevy of talented pieces from the club’s members and also witnessed the official launch of the club’s very first website at https://nkrcja.com/