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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

DAVID HERON CELEBRATES LATEST ACTING SUCCESS IN HIT MUSICAL 'MARLEY'

 David in character
'THE ENFORCERS' - From left to right - David Heron as Tony Welsh, John Andrew Morrison as Claudie Massop and Luke Forbes as Tek Life, in 'Marley.'
David Heron
New York – May 28, 2015
Award winning playwright and actor David Heron is celebrating another major career milestone as part of the cast of Marley, the world premiere musical based on the life of Jamaican reggae icon Bob Marley, which had its gala opening night at the Baltimore Centerstage Theater in Maryland on May 13.
The new musical, with book by Kwame Kwei Armah - who also serves as director -and music and lyrics by Bob Marley, has been playing to rave reviews and sold out houses since it began preview performances in early May, a week  in advance of its official opening night.
Heron plays the role of former PNP activist Tony Welsh, who, along with JLP contemporaries Claudie Massop and Tek Life, were instrumental in bringing Marley (played in the production by You Tube singing sensation Mitchell Brunings, of Holland's The Voice) back to Jamaica for the now famous One Love Peace Concert in 1978, after the singer's self imposed exile to London in the mid seventies.
Marley had retreated to England in late 1976 after being shot in an assassination attempt made on his life at his 56 Hope Road residence, on the eve of the Smile Jamaica Christmas concert and during the run up to the tumultuous 1976 general elections.
The musical examines the personal and political events in and around Marley's life leading up to the assassination, and his subsequent sojourn in London, as he embarked on what was to become the most artistically productive period of his career.
For Heron, whose recent acting credits have included acclaimed performances in major Shakespearean productions such as Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus and Much Ado About Nothing, the Marley experience has been a welcome change of pace, and has proven both artistically challenging and professionally rewarding.
"My acting resume had been leaning towards the very classical for the last few years, so to do Marley- which is a modern period piece and my first ever musical- is an exciting and very different challenge," he says.
Heron describes his character in the story as somewhat cool and taciturn -a loyal PNP supporter who speaks relatively little, but who has a steely willingness to do what he has to, to survive.
"In my Shakespearean or other classical roles, the language- the spoken word- has been everything.  With Tony Welsh, it's how he uses his body that helps inform who he is. His silences speak volumes and he says more with a look or gesture than a half page of dialogue. That's a very new, more controlled, style of performance than I'm used to playing, but Kwame is a brilliant and collaborative director and his help has been invaluable to me."
According to Heron, Tony Welsh, Tek Life (played by Luke Forbes) and Claude Massop (played by Jamaican John Andrew Morrison), are used as important dramatic devices throughout the story to illustrate the political tensions in Jamaica at the time.
"In the play, Claudie and Tek Life are, of course, unstintingly loyal to the JLP Opposition Leader Edward Seaga, while Tony's allegiance is unwavering to Prime Minister Michael Manley. But when it mattered, they united   and called a truce in their communities, then travelled to London to ask Bob to return and help seal the peace with the One Love Concert. There was still a code of honor and respect among them. And acting those scenes out with Luke, who is of Jamaican parentage, and John Andrew, who is Jamaican like me, as well as Howard Overshown, who portrays Michael Manley- is just incredible. They are all amazing actors, and the same can truly be said of the entire cast, nearly thirty strong. It's just a real honor to be part of something so massive and so well received. Without a doubt, it's one of the most important projects of my career to date."
Heron can still remember growing up in Jamaica during the time in which the show is set, and says some of the memories evoked during the rehearsal process were unsettling.
"I was very young, but I can still remember my parents warning me not to repeat anything political I might hear at home to anyone at school or elsewhere, because   you could wind up hurt or worse if   the wrong people found out who your parents were voting for….My dad taught at Kingston Technical High School in downtown Kingston and I just remember everyone being so fearful all the time that some little incident could flare up and shut the whole city down…It was scary."
On the nostalgic side however, many of the songs in the show, including Redemption Song, One Love and Three Little Birds were well known to Heron from his days as a performer with the acclaimed University Singers, when Marley's songs formed a popular part of the choir's repertoire.
"I was singing those songs years ago when I first started my performing career with the UWI Singers, under Mr. Noel Dexter and Professor Rex Nettleford - and now here I am, doing them all over again… It feels a homecoming- like a part of my life has come full circle. And it's pretty cool."
Marley continues at the Baltimore Centerstage Theater until June 14.

Press Release from:
Rachel Damarr Williams
Publicity Co-ordinator
Sure Thing Productions
718- 444- 4656

Boston College Honours Sister Marie Chin RSM

University President William P. Leahy, SJ (at left in back row), with this year honorary degree recipients: (front, L-R) Sister Marie Chin, RSM, Lee Woodruff; (back, L-R) Steve Pemberton, Michael Motyl , Archbishop of Chicago Blase J. Cupich. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)
 
Sister Marie Chin, brilliant Jamaican Sister of Mercy, was one of four distinguished recipients of honorary doctorates at Boston College's 139th annual Commencement Exercises on May 18. An internationally known speaker and spiritual director, Sister Marie Chin, R.S.M. is dedicated to the mission of the Sisters of the Mercy and practices it in her beloved country.

In 1961, she entered the Sisters of Mercy, an international community of Roman Catholic women who dedicate their lives to God through vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and service. The organization is responsible for approximately 5,000 members in 11 countries and advocates for social justice and systemic change on behalf of the poor and marginalized in society.

After teaching at the secondary level for more than a decade at Alpha Academy in Kingston, Jamaica, she served in a number of key positions with Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, including director of formation, coordinator/administrator of the Jamaica Region, and vice president and president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Her current position is incorporation/vocation minister and local administrator.

Sister Marie is vicar for religious for the Archdiocese of Kingston and has directed retreats, workshops and programmes worldwide on such topics as spirituality, religious life and multiculturalism. She received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the Commencement.


 



Grown up politics please!

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

One of Jamaica's most backward political habits, is this colour-terrorism, to the point where people avoid wearing the beautiful colours of orange and green, for fear of being labelled, and even being injured, as a follower of one political party or another.  That is why I have time for Aloun Assamba, who showed up at an event when she was a PNP MP wearing green and replied to a puzzled query, "I am wearing green …because I like green!" 

Because we Jamaicans tend to label folks based on appearance, the late Ralf Bender, a resident German-Jamaican had a collection of T-Shirts which he wore whenever he visited our resort areas which read "Mi no tourist – Mi live ya!"  Perhaps our T-shirt manufacturers could turn this orange-green debacle on its head by printing orange and green t-shirts with messages like, "Mi no PNP, mi jus' love orange", or for fun, "Mi wear green and mi love PNP".

Can you imagine, Auntie Mary sends you a barrel with the most beautiful green dress, and you have to park it because you live in a certain area?  I believe our MPs should take a leaf from High Commissioner Assamba's book, and plan to wear non-traditional party colours, until we all get over this puerile behaviour.  Although they call states in the US "red" and "blue", denoting Republican and Democratic leanings, what colour did Michelle Obama wear that night in Chicago when her husband was declared winner of the Presidential elections? Indeed, she wore red.  I believe Prime Minister Simpson Miller would look smashing in green and Babsy Grange, awesome in orange.  If these ladies lead the way, we could get rid of this colour-foolishness and free up people's wardrobes.

With Jamaica gearing up for elections, let our political leaders set the tone for more grown-up politics – let them wear the other party's colours to a sitting of the House, and declare that no Jamaican should have any fear of wearing any colour whatsoever.

Observer column for MON 18 May 2015 (Excerpt)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pope Francis receives Food for the Poor President Robin Mahfood and wife Gail

Here are photos of His Holiness Pope Francis  on May 8, 2015 meeting with Robin Mahfood,  President of Food for the Poor Inc and his wife Gail at the Vatican.
Mother Mariana Pinto from St Lucia organized this wonderful event.
Food for the Poor is the Number One International Philanthropic organisation in the US.  We are so proud that it was founded in Jamaica 34 years ago,  and now serves 17 Caribbean and Latin American countries.
   

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tao Porchon-Lynch, 96-Y-O Yoga Master wows Jamaica!

Tao Porchon-Lynch leads students through a series of gentle stretches during her class at the Sunken Garden in Hope Gardens on Saturday May 9. The class was a collaborative effort between the Jamaica Yoga Association (JAYA) and Afya Yoga. Ms Porchon-Lynch, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest yoga instructor, was in Jamaica for a week. During her time on the island, she guest taught a morning yoga class at the Jewel Paradise Cove Beach & Spa Resort in Runaway Bay. In Kingston, she led one workshop at Afya Yoga and led JAYA's bi-weekly community class at Hope Gardens on Saturday.

Tao Porchon-Lynch, seen here with Afya Yoga's Sonita Morin-Abrahams (right), addresses attendees of the open-air yoga class held in the Sunken Garden at Hope Gardens on Saturday May 9. The class was a collaborative effort between the Jamaica Yoga Association (JAYA) and Afya Yoga. Ms Porchon-Lynch, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest yoga instructor, was in Jamaica for a week. During her time on the island, she guest taught a morning yoga class at the Jewel Paradise Cove Beach & Spa Resort in Runaway Bay. In Kingston, she led one workshop at Afya Yoga and led JAYA's bi-weekly community class at Hope Gardens on Saturday.

Musician Jason Worton nails a variation of the dwi pada asana thanks to assistance from Tao Porchon-Lynch during a yoga class held at Afya Yoga on Saturday May 9. Ms Porchon-Lynch, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest yoga instructor, was in Jamaica for a week. During her time on the island, she guest taught a morning yoga class at the Jewel Paradise Cove Beach & Spa Resort in Runaway Bay. In Kingston, she led one workshop at Afya Yoga and led JAYA's bi-weekly community class at Hope Gardens on Saturday.

Students during the Tao Porchon-Lynch led open-air yoga class at the Sunken Garden in Hope Gardens on Saturday May 9. The class was a collaborative effort between the Jamaica Yoga Association (JAYA) and Afya Yoga. Ms Porchon-Lynch, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest yoga instructor, was in Jamaica for a week. During her time on the island, she guest taught a morning yoga class at the Jewel Paradise Cove Beach & Spa Resort in Runaway Bay. In Kingston, she led one workshop at Afya Yoga and led JAYA's bi-weekly community class at Hope Gardens on Saturday.
See you later, Jamaica! Tao poses in front of the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel sign in the lobby as she prepares to leave the island. Ms Porchon-Lynch was thrilled to be here and overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the country and its people.
 My friend Pam McFarlane, invited the legendary 96-year-old Yoga Master Tao Porchon-Lynch to Jamaica.  She was hosted by Sonita Abrahams of AFYA Studios. When asked if she could remain longer, she explained that she had to rush back because she was a competitor in a dance event on Monday!  She took up ballroom dancing when she was 85.  What an inspiring lady!
This is an excerpt of "The Power of a Smile" and Tao drew parallels between it and the warmth of Jamaican people and their smiles during her time here: http://yogauonline.com/yogatherapy/1250062013-tao-porchon-lynch-power-smile

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT RE CCJ PASSES JAMAICA LOWER HOUSE

I have been calling for this for many months... This is good news for all the folks who  cannot afford that expensive trek to the Privy Council... Jean L-C

Excerpt of release just received via email:

Kingston, May 12, 2015:      Team PNP notes with great interest and approval that the Constitutional Amendment to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice as Jamaica's Final Appellate Court passed the Lower House earlier today.

The Most Honourable Prime Minister references the milestone as "being on the right side of history"....

Our position...  is that the Caribbean Court of Justice enhances access, efficiency, efficacy, delivery and quality of Justice to which our people are entitled.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Visit to King's House with Champion Household Workers


Excerpt - Jamaica Observer column for MON May 4 2015 by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen gives a firm handshake to Gilroy Graham (left), General Manager, Grace Foods & Services Company,  during a courtesy call paid by the 2014 Grace-Kennedy Heather Little-White Household Workers Awards winners, senior GraceKennedy representatives and members of the competition’s adjudication panel on April 30. Looking on, from right, are: Elaine Duncan, first place winner, Mervelyn Brown, second place winner and  Edward McGowan, third place winner of the Awards. Nominations for this year’s competition will close on May 15. The GraceKennedy Group introduced the  Household Worker of the Year Award in 2014, to recognize the contribution of  Jamaica’s finest household workers, as well as to honour the memory of Heather Little-White, the late Jamaican food and nutrition specialist who championed the upliftment of Jamaican household workers throughout her lifetime.

It was a glorious morning when top household workers headed to King’s House last Thursday for a courtesy call with the Governor General.  Elaine Duncan, Mervelyn Brown and Edward McGowan were honoured last year in the GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Inaugural Household Workers Championship based on criteria including budgetary skills, time management and community involvement.

As one of the judges in the selection, I have to admit that I was moved to tears when I heard their stories of courage and perseverance.  Sir Patrick was no less impressed as Elaine Duncan explained that her employer described her as “no ordinary housekeeper.”  The articulate Ms Duncan explained, 

The Champions, with Nicola Lawson (r), Vice President of the 14,000 strong Jamaica Household Workers Union















“I not only do the regular housework but I also do her banking and other duties on the road”. 
First runner up Mervelyn Brown told the GG that she enjoyed gardening in addition to her household duties and had been employed to the same family for 25 years.  Edward McGowan, the only male in the group, said he had started out as a gardener and handyman but in the apartment complex where he works, his skills in washing, ironing and baby-sitting were quickly recognized and he says “I enjoy doing it all”.

Sir Patrick shared a story of a celebrated organist who acknowledged the wide applause of his audience as he stepped on the stage but when he sat at his instrument, he got no sound.  The GG explained that this organ depended on an individual in the back room who would operate a pump and when the musician checked to see what was going on, the annoyed operator said he should receive some acknowledgement as well. The GG compared this to the outstanding workers in our homes and at King’s House, working in the background to help us function efficiently.

“Whenever anyone compliments me and Lady Allen about the well-kept grounds or the orderly state of King’s House, we are quick to point out that the praise belongs to our dedicated staff,” he assured us.

The Vice-President of the Household Workers Union Nicola Lawson, explained to the GG that they had a very active organization which conducted training programmes in such areas as public speaking and social media, one of the initiatives of their President, Shirley Pryce who was currently doing post-graduate studies in the US. 

One of the judges for the Household Worker of the Year Executive Chef Maisie Miller told the GG that it was an initiative of the late Dr. Heather Little-White that resulted in the certified training of household workers and that these certificates assisted many to source jobs not only in Jamaica but also overseas. Thus the household worker’s award was named in her honour.

Another judge, Dr. Glenda Simms observed that there were some 58,000 household workers in Jamaica, one of the single largest group of workers. The GG remarked that they were indeed unsung heroes who provide invaluable service for Jamaican families, and said he was pleased that the Household Workers Union had such excellent developmental programmes.  

On our way out of King’s House the champions said how honoured they felt when the GG treated them with so much respect and were indeed blessed to have such a warm and approachable GG. 
“We are all one Jamaica,” said Sir Patrick, as he congratulated the champions. “Everyone plays an equally important part.” 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Digicel Foundation Boosts Special Needs with 5K Run/Walk proceeds

23 year-old Genesis Academy student Jehanne Thompson shows (from second left) Kamal Powell, Digicel's Senior Sponsorship and Development Manager; Jean Lowrie-Chin, Digicel Foundation Chairman and Natalie Chin-Watkins, Head of Advertising, Marketing and Communications at the Observer how to properly make French toast. Genesis is one of 12 partners that received proceeds from the Digicel Foundation 5K Run/Walk held in October 2014.
Kingston, Jamaica:  Twelve special needs schools and institutions recently received well-needed support through proceeds from the third annual Digicel Foundation 5K Run/Walk.
Proceeds of J$6.9 million received from the 5K Run/Walk were officially distributed to 12 partners when the Foundation and the event sponsors visited their offices on Thursday, April 23. In October 2014 the Digicel Foundation hosted the signature event which saw the involvement of 8,052 participants, a 10% increase from the previous year, making the annual 5K Run/Walk the fastest growing race of its kind in the island.
Rudolph Gordon, a student of the Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf (left) teaches Digicel Jamaica Brand Ambassador Alphanso Cunningham how to say his name in sign language. Looking on are (L-R): Judine Hunter, Special Needs Programme Manager, Digicel Foundation; a Lister Mair/Gilby student;  Luri-Ann  Grant, Marketing Officer, Island Grill; Andrew Gordon, Technical Drawing teacher at the school and Brian Schmidt, Marketing Manager, IRIE FM. The Jamaica Association for the Deaf, whose leadership the school falls under, is one of the 12 partners who received proceeds from the 2014 Digicel Foundation 5K Run/Walk.
For Adama Balgrove, Founder and Principal of the Montego Bay Autism Centre, the Digicel Foundation has answered her prayers. "We are so thankful. When we heard the news we were surprised as this came at a time where it is well needed," Balgrove said. The Montego Bay Autism Centre is a first time recipient of the 5K Run/Walk and will be using the funds to furnish their new facility located at Appleton Hall in St. James.
Another first time recipient, Special Olympics Jamaica, will be utilizing the funds for training ahead of the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles this year. "Nothing happens ahead of its time," said Lorna Bell, Executive Director of Special Olympics Jamaica. "With 93 days to go to the Summer Games the funds will be used for stepping up training, towards the athlete's nutrition and to beautifying the Special Olympics Court recently built by the Digicel Foundation."
Other recipients include: Liberty Academy, Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities, Jamaica Association for the Deaf, Jamaica Society for the Blind, Jamaica Downs Syndrome Foundation, STEP Centre, Mustard Seed Communities - Jacob's ladder, Early Stimulation Plus, Genesis Academy and Jamaica Autism Support Association.
"Digicel, through the Digicel Foundation, is a committed partner to the special needs sector in Jamaica," said Judine Hunter, Special Needs Programme Manager at the Digicel Foundation. "Giving back is part of our core values as we continue to provide capacity and training to the special needs sector. We know these partners will be impacting the lives of persons with special needs through these proceeds."
The 4th annual 5K Run/Walk takes place in October 2015 in downtown Kingston.
Tashna-Toya Edwards
Account Executive
PROComm
6 Kingsway | Kingston 10 | Jamaica W.I
Tel: (876) 926 6740 | Cell: (876) 550-7021| Fax: 926 8676
Email: tashna.edwards@procomm.com.jm
...follow through sets us apart

Monday, May 4, 2015

ENTRIES CLOSE TOMORROW FOR FOOD FOR THE POOR’S 5K


Kingston, Jamaica – May 4, 2015: The deadline for Food For The Poor (FFP) Jamaica’s 5K has been extended until tomorrow, May 5.

The charity organisation made the announcement over the weekend as it tries to boost the funds being raised from registration, to build houses for Jamaicans in need.

“We are delighted with the tremendous support that our 5K has been receiving,” David Mair, Executive Director, FFP Jamaica. “However, we are responding to several calls over the weekend so that others can participate. We want all Jamaicans who have not got a chance to register to do so, and be a part of this wonderful event which is for a good cause and which Jamaicans in need of houses will benefit from.”

FFP’s inaugural 5K Run/Walk will be held on Saturday, May 9 – the eve of Mother’s Day in Kingston, Jamaica, starting at Emancipation Park going on to Oxford Road, Old Hope Road, Seaview Avenue, Trafalgar Road and Knutsford Boulevard back to Emancipation Park.

Those still interested in registering can contact 434-9250 or email ffp5k@foodforthepoorja.org. Teams with more than 50 members will benefit from a group discount. All proceeds will go towards the building of homes for the indigent and will be matched by Food For The Poor Florida.

For more information, please contact:
Ainsworth Morris, PROComm. Tel: 926-6740 or 375-6136
Petri-Ann Henry, Public Relations Officer, Food For The Poor Jamaica. Cell: 564-2886

Sunday, May 3, 2015

GG Praises Champion Jamaican Household Workers

Governor General Sir Patrick Allen gives a firm handshake to Gilroy Graham (left), General Manager, Grace Foods & Services Company,  during a courtesy call paid by the 2014 Grace-Kennedy Heather Little-White Household Workers Awards winners, senior GraceKennedy representatives and members of the competition's adjudication panel on April 30. Looking on, from right, are: Elaine Duncan, first place winner, Mervelyn Brown, second place winner and  Edward McGowan, third place winner of the Awards. Nominations for this year's competition will close on May 15. The GraceKennedy Group introduced the  Household Worker of the Year Award in 2014, to recognize the contribution of  Jamaica's finest household workers, as well as to honour the memory of Heather Little-White, the late Jamaican food and nutrition specialist who championed the upliftment of Jamaican household workers throughout her lifetime.

Kingston, Jamaica, May 1 – There were lots of smiles, and a feeling of warmth and  emotion as Governor General of Jamaica, Sir Patrick Allen, met with the  top three 2014 GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Workers during a courtesy call at King's House on Thursday, April 30.

The 2014 awardees, Elaine Duncan, Mervelyn Brown and Edward McGowan, themselves delighted to meet His Excellency, were accompanied by senior representatives from GraceKennedy along with members of the adjudication panel from last year and those joining the panel for this year's initiative.

Sir Patrick had high praise for both the Household Workers Awards initiative, as well as the awardees with whom he spoke. He told the awardees that all Jamaica celebrated and valued them, stating that that he too wanted to tell them how much they are appreciated, "from the very bottom of my heart".

While commending GraceKennedy, Sir Patrick said that the Household Worker initiative showed that at the end of the day, "we are all one Jamaica, and everyone plays an equally important part." 

The courtesy call follows the launch of the 2015 awards on April 10.  The public is being asked to nominate their household worker for the awards this year. Nominations not exceeding 200 words can be sent by May 15 to the email address gracekennedy@gkco.com or be dropped off at or mailed to the GraceKennedy head office in downtown Kingston at 73 Harbour Street. A top ten will be selected by judges, with a top three chosen from that short list. 

The GraceKennedy Heather Little-White Household Worker Award was inaugurated in 2014, with the aim to honour some of Jamaica's finest, though largely unrecognized, workers.  It also serves to honour the memory of the late Jamaican food and nutrition specialist Heather Little-White who championed the training of household workers throughout her lifetime, in large part during her time as a GraceKennedy employee, and later, consultant.

This year's winners will be announced on May 29. Awardees will receive cash prizes  of $250,000, $150,000, and $100,000 for first, second and third place winners respectively, along with gift vouchers from Hi-Lo Food Stores and an account with $25,000 at First Global Bank.

Contact: Simone Clarke-Cooper, Group Chief Corporate Communication Manager
Tel: (876) 932-3174 (office)

Tashna-Toya Edwards
Account Executive
PROComm Limited
Tel (876) 926-6740