Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014

As the year comes to a close many of us will ask where did the time go? Twelve months, three hundred and sixty five days have flown by so quickly. What did you accomplish throughout the year? Did you make an impact in your neck of the woods? Could you have done more? The year was indeed challenging, however, despite the challenges 2014 also provided opportunities. We saw the best and worse of humanity. There were wars, outbreak of diseases such as Ebola and Chikungunya Virus. In spite of that there were opportunities for professional and spiritual growth. The Lord has kept me and I am sure He has protected you and your family as well.
As we pause and look back at the year that was let me wish for you all the very best for 2015. I wish for you a New Year filled with a sense of purpose and clarity of vision. May the year be a safe and blessed one. Take time to recommit yourself to God. Take time out for your family. Remember none of us is an island and we all need the help and support of our another. Let us give a helping hand wherever possible during the New Year.
Blessings!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Malachi chapter 3 verses 16-18

Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.
“On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.
And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Negative Side of Social Media

There is a positive and negative aspect to most things in life.  There are few exceptions to this rule. In recent times we have witnessed the negative side of popular social media sites. Disturbingly, social media have been featured in the alleged murder of a St. Catherine based young woman. According to police reports the young woman decided to meet face to face with the teenager with whom she had been corresponding. They met at his home and, in the end her body was found in a shallow grave nearby to his house. It has been reported that the teenager has since confessed to being a part of a satanic church. Additionally, the gunman who shot and killed two New York City police officers in Brooklyn, New York last Saturday also used on social media in posting some disturbing information about his intentions.
It cannot be said often enough, be careful who you meet on social media. Very often the persona behind the monitor is not the same individual you will interface with.
Schools are now on the Christmas break; resulting in more and more young people turning to the internet. Students surf the internet in search for some entertainment, to speak with old friends, seek out new friends and do research for homework.
Parents have the added responsibility to guide and monitor their children regarding how to use the internet in a safe and efficient manner. It’s always best to have the family computer stored in a central area in the home. However, with more and more children having access to smart phones with internet capacity the job of parents and guardians have become more challenging.
Parents should be mindful this Christmas about the kinds of gifts they give to their children. Of course as a parent you aim to make your child comfortable and happy, however, there are some gifts that if given should be carefully monitored. As a parent you probably will need to know the password of your child email account and smart phone.
Yes, each child has a right to privacy; however, each child has a right to be safe more than the need for privacy. It’s always best to spend some quality time with your child, some of which can be used to navigate the internet. This Christmas speak with your child about the reality and responsibility of having social media.
Have a happy and safe Christmas and a wonderful new year.
Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Spirit of Christmas

May the Christ of Christmas be with you and your family.
May the Spirit of Christmas bring you good tidings and much joy.
May the bonds of familial and friendship be rekindled this festive season.
May you love your neighbour as much as you love yourself.
This Christmas make a commitment to make a difference in the life of someone.
Have a safe, happy and merry Christmas.

© December 2014 Wayne Campbell

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Prayer For Divine Help-Psalm 70

Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O God. Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt. Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say Aha, aha. Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continaually, Let God be magnified. But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O Lord, O Lord make no tarrying.    

Friday, 19 December 2014

Human Lives Matter

The structural trappings of racism needs to be dismantled. God created us all equal, however, mankind has intervened and put in barriers to differentiate shades of skin colour. Always speak out for your rights. Black lives matter.
© 2014 Wayne Campbell

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Black Lives Matter

The collective consciousness of a people needs to be stirred into action. Black lives matter.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Be Wise

It cannot be said often enough, be careful who you meet on social media. Very often the persona behind the monitor is not the same individual you will interface with.
 © 2014 Wayne Campbell

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Thinking Out Loud

The dispensation of justice for all social classes will only be achieved when language as a barrier to communication no longer exits.- Wayne Campbell

Monday, 15 December 2014

Language and Communication: The Social Class Divide

Jamaica is truly a beautiful and comical place to live, work and raise families.  The ongoing Tivoli Commission of Enquiry bares testimony to this fact. Among the suggestions emerging from last week’s proceeding is the suggestion from a university lecturer that language interpreters maybe necessary at the ongoing Tivoli Commission of Enquiry to ensure that the lawyers clearly understand the witnesses as well as for clarity for the witnesses from counsel. As Jamaicans we all are familiar with and indeed speak two languages. Jamaica English or Patois and Standard English are the official languages of Jamaica. The suggestion that interpreters maybe need in order to decipher or decode what the witnesses at the Enquiry are saying belittles our rich culture as well as highlights the fact that we are not really one despite what the Jamaican Motto says. Social class prejudice and discrimination are very much alive and well in 2014.
As far as I am aware all the lawyers at the Enquiry are Jamaicans. As a result they are all capable, familiar with and competent to speak and understand the language of the people. Interestingly, the Chairman of the Tivoli Commission of Enquiry, Sir David Simmons is not a Jamaican and he appears not to have any problems understanding the language of the witness. As a people Jamaicans we are very versatile and witty. Why is it that the lawyers at the Enquiry cannot speak in a manner that the witnesses will be able to understand? Is it that the lawyers are beyond code switching in languages ? Included in the terms of Reference for the commissioner to examine are the reasons and circumstances for the declaration of a State of Emergency in Western Kingston and related areas in May 2010, as well as, to ascertain the conduct of the security forces during this period.  As a nation we deserve to know what really happened in May 2010 regarding the incursion of the security forces in Tivoli Gardens. The people of Tivoli Gardens need closure so to the society. Those who suffered injustices or those whose rights were violated by the State should be compensated by the State.  

Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Poem-Hope

I see the hope of the next generation
Young, gifted and full of promise
I see their potential.
I hear their confidence daily.
They will succeed,
with determination,hard work
and an unwavering commitment to country and family.
I see the future in those bright eyes,
eyes as bright as neon lights on a bill board
The future is so very bright.

© 2014 Wayne Campbell

Friday, 12 December 2014

Psalm 71:6

From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Jamaican Parliamentarians Are Selfish

Political betrayal- how else could one describe the recent actions of our parliamentarians after they voted to amend the Representation of the Peoples Act? With the passage of this Bill the state will be asked through the already tax burdened and stressed Jamaican tax payers to fund political parties.  The thought of their actions has almost rendered me speechless. It is abundantly clear that our parliamentarians are out of touch with the economic reality of the times with the move to amend the Representation of the Peoples Act. It is quite possible that this will be viewed among the most self- serving, unconscionable and unacceptable acts of Parliament since the country’s political independence in 1962.
In a tough economic era such as like with the pending closure of Best Care Lodge children’s home due to a shortfall in budget this action is most improper. In a time of wage freeze why is it that the Jamaican tax payers are being asked to finance our political parties? What is to be gained by the state and tax payers by funding political parties?  Will we see a corresponding piece of legislation to have more accountability and transparency of our elected government officials? Instead of passing legislation to strengthen the democratic process in Jamaica which is woefully lacking our Parliamentarians continue to major in the minor with acts of political selfishness. The forcible extraction of money from the already downtrodden Jamaican tax payer gives the appearance that our legislators are uncaring and insensitive to the needs of the people whom they serve. The move by our Parliamentarians at this time to amend the Representation of the Peoples Act runs counter to good governance and is injudicious.
Let us look at some of social issues that need attention. The Jamaican education system is under-funded and bursting at the seam facilitating the majority of our students to fall through the cracks. Our roads are in a deplorable condition contributing too many road accidents. The public health care system needs urgent attention and funding. According to the 2012 Survey of Living Conditions by The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) more 500,000 Jamaicans or 1 out of every 5 Jamaicans are now living below the poverty line. Considering this survey is two years old one can conclude that the living conditions of Jamaicans, as well as poverty have gotten worst since then. The focus of the Parliamentarians should be to try and eradicate poverty instead of applying additional measures to increase poverty.
If Jamaicans are be called upon to finance political parties we should expect something in return. The time has come for Constitutional Reform in Jamaica. We need to impose term limits on those who serve in Parliament as this would be one measure to strengthen our democracy. Democracy is more than free and fair elections. Democracy goes much further by giving the electorate a voice after the elections and holding elected officials accountability. Gone are the days when any individual should be in Parliament for life. Is it any wonder that Jamaica has dropped to 85th out of the 175 countries listed on the latest Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index list. There is a close association between the perception of corruption and good governance. Sadly, the global perspective is that Jamaica is a corrupt place and not much is being done to change this view.   Having term limits is the way to go regarding good governance. In our society there is no need for us to have any parliamentarian serving more than two terms or ten years. We also need to enshrine in the Jamaican Constitution the power to recall poor performing Members of Parliament who use poor judgment to make decisions. It is truly shameful that our parliamentarians could have passed such a bill. Despite what some of our politicians think the inarticulate majority are not stupid.

Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Poem-Live For The Moment

Our eyes met at first
Tall, dark skinned, elegantly but teasingly attired
I looked away at first,
then our souls made that connection,
butterfly- like feelings engulfed my being and stirred my manhood.
I looked away
She stared at me seductively
I stared back
She was heading in my direction
Sweaty palms along with a butterfly filled stomach
what must I do?
Hello there, what is your name?
I hesitated and stuttered for a moment,
maybe more.
I whispered in her ears.
She held my hands and smiled
and pulled me in her direction.

© December 2014 Wayne Campbell

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Poem- Journeying Through The Senses

Emerging from the darkness I see
Listening in silence I hear
Scouring my taste buds I taste
Being human I feel
Your perfume tingles my nostrils I smell.
© 2014 Wayne Campbell

Friday, 5 December 2014

Recycle or Perish

Globally more than one trillion plastic bags are used annually by the more than 7 billion people on the planet. We use plastic bags daily even without making the connection between our quality of life and the negative impact discarded plastic bags has on our environment. According to some reports more than seventy per cent of all plastic bags used are non biodegradable and forms the basis for severe damage to the environment which inevitable affects the quality of life on the planet. Abandoned plastic bags pollute the soil and water, increase greenhouse gas emission and undoubtedly kill thousands of marine animals.  Plastic bags also remain toxic for hundreds of years even after they break down. Plastic is harmful because of the chemicals found in it. One such harmful chemical is phthalates. Phthalates are chemicals used in many plastics to make them soft or flexible. Exposure to this chemical is a cause for concern since in some quarters it is linked to declining human sperm production. In many societies, there is a significant increase in the number of respiratory cases such as Asthma along with an increase in our usage of plastic bags.  Surprisingly, plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. On any given day the destructive nature of useless plastic can be seen across Jamaica. Plastic is strewn alongside the roadside, coastline and litter many communities in this beautiful island. Our obsession for all things plastic, whether it’s the shopping bags, bottled water, or bag juice has created an environmental nightmare for the society. Our beaches and streets are under attack with lightweight plastic bags commonly referred to as scandal bags. It is indeed scandalous that we have not acted in a manner to curtail the individual consumption of plastic bags per citizen. This is an eyesore that needs not be; however, as a society matters of the environment is usually not high on the priority list. The Jamaican society urgently needs some policy guideline that will limit the number of plastic bags used by our retailers, consumers and business establishments. How many of us as consumers are aware that there is a limit in the use of microwavable plastic containers? This number is usually encased at the bottom of the container. If this is not adhere to the plastic breaks down into the food inside the container causing many health issues including cancer.
Recently, the European Union (EU) Parliament recommended some guidelines for all twenty eight (28) members of the European Union to curtail usage of plastic bags per citizen. The EU has proposed that by 2025 citizens will be limited to 40 plastic bags each year. I must admit we are a far way from such an optimistic goal, however, we must begin somewhere. There is no need for us in Jamaica to reinvent the wheel in this regards, however, the leadership is lacking in this area like in so many spheres of public life in Jamaica we lack courageous and bold leadership.
Interestingly, within the EU, Denmark and Finland are the best performing countries with an estimated four (4) plastic bags per citizen.  It is a scary idea to think of the estimated plastic bag count for each Jamaican citizen per year. On the other hand, Portugal, Latvia, Slovenia and Poland are among the worst performing EU countries with an estimated 466 plastic bags consumed per citizen per year.  I suspect Jamaica is close to those worst performing EU countries regarding plastic bags usage per citizen per year. China alone uses over 3 billion plastic bags daily; while in the United States of America over 100 billion plastic bags are used per year.  With the invention of the Microwave Oven, we have witness an increase in the usage of plastic to heat food items and then as a storage mechanism. Most reports indicate that more than ten per cent of household waste in plastic. What can we do? We need to move urgently towards using bio-degradable plastic bags which are more environmentally friendly. We must be realist in this narrative, plastic bags have their functions and we will never be able to totally eliminate them. For example, plastic bags are needed for fresh meat and fish. We need to have the necessary legislation passed by the government to reduce waste prevention and the number of plastic bags used by every Jamaican citizen. We could appeal to retailers to voluntary stop distributing or reduce the number of plastic bags given to their customers. Where this fails or falls short the state could impose a fine/tax on retailers who continue to use plastic bags. We could reward shoppers with coupons/discounts who refuse from using plastic bags. We should encourage retailers and wholesalers to desist from using lightweight plastic bags by giving them a tax incentive.
Additionally we would need to get all the stakeholders involved to discuss the issue. The manufacturers of plastic bags are an integral part of the discourse. They provide employment for many Jamaicans so we need to be mindful of this. However, those who make the plastic bags could shift emphasis to bio-degradable plastic bags. While some jobs will probably be lost initially by those who manufacture plastic/scandal bags this would shift would also create more and better paying jobs than lost. This is a great opportunity for some investor who is thinking of which industry to put his/her money into. There is certainly a critical need for environmental conscious investors to put some of their resources in recycling plants as well. Investing in the technology to recycle our waste not only forms an integral part of waste disposal and management, but will also provide employment for more Jamaicans and improve our quality of life. It is a shame that a country this size has not moved ahead in terms of recycling some of its waste. The time to act is now to reverse our throw away plastic bag culture as well as our littering culture in general. The time for a campaign against the widespread use of plastic begins with each one of us. We need to encourage our consumers to use reusable shopping bags not only to save our environment but to save ourselves from the toxic plastic gives off. 
As consumers of plastic we must make a concerted and practical effort to reduce our dependency and consumption of this product which we all find convenient.
The time has come for us to invest more in recycling our refuse and garbage and save the environment. We have spent too much time talking about recycling. It is now time for action. Mother Earth can be very unforgiving if forced to take action on her own.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
 























































 
 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Importance of Educational Field Trips to Teaching and Learning

Childhood is the most beautiful of all life's seasons. ~Author Unknown
What was your fondest childhood memory?  Was it hearing the school bell to indicate lunch time? Was your fondest childhood memory spending time in the country and bathing in the river? Perhaps it was going on educational field trips? As schools struggle with budgetary constraints and stretch their human resources to improve test scores in numeracy and literacy it is becoming more difficult to justify taking students out on educational field trips. However, this out of the classroom experience is very vital in the teaching and learning process. Students who are exposed to experiences outside of the classroom often have a more balanced and enriched teaching and learning journey.  Still, too many of our educators are conservative and believe that real teaching and learning can only take place in the confines of a classroom. There is a tendency for some educators to take students on a “reward” field trip to places such as the beach and amusement parks. I fondly remember my grade six teacher at St. Jude’s Primary because of this. We were rewarded for passing the then Common Entrance Examination with a class excursion to the Norman Manley International Airport. For the most part we live in a society where there is an under-utilization of our museums, zoos and other places of culturally significance. It is no wonder our students are so violent given that many of them lacks the culturally exposure that only comes from having a guided experiences outside of the classroom. Added to this many of students do not consider a career in the Arts since this avenue is rarely  presented to them as a viable career option given the misconception the wider society has regarding opportunities in the Arts. Successive governments and corporate Jamaica over the years have given very little support in supporting the Arts.  Sadly, many of our practitioners in this field continue to find it challenging to earn a living solely from their participation in the Arts. A significant number of our students have never been to the National Gallery, or the Institute of Jamaica Museum, nor the Hope Botanical Garden commonly refer to as Hope Gardens or even the museum at the Bank of Jamaica. As a result we now have a culturally deficient society that is more aware of cultures and practices outside of the Jamaican experience. Many of our students lack the knowledge of their history more so since the teaching of History is optional in most of our schools.  The nature of culturally enriching field trips is that they are often to places that students do not yet know and as such they might enjoy visiting. Culturally enriching field trips have significant educational benefits for students. Among these benefits are greater levels of tolerance for others, to foster a level of historical empathy, an increase in knowledge as well as supporting critical thinking.  Field trips or educational tours provide children with hands on learning experience which is invaluable. We live in fast changing world where information is readily available just by the click of a mouse. However, when we facilitate our students to visit places of educational value and significance they discover for themselves and enrich the teaching and learning process that no textbook could have provided for them.  
According to Dr. Trevor Forbes, a Jamaican born, United States based psychiatrist, “field trips add to the cultural enrichment of students, field trips open up a student’s perspective to the world outside of their created boundaries”.
Additionally, when students go together on a particular field trip, it gives them an opportunity to socialize with each other. Educational field trips provide a great way of promoting team spirit among our students which is a necessary skill which will become extremely useful in the work place. Field trips are great ways for teachers to make students understand that learning can be a fun filled activity. When students are exposed to different subjects in a practical way, they start generating interest in it. Despite the challenges associated with planning and executing any educational trip, the benefits clearly outweighs such difficulties. Our educational institutions need to incorporate this strategy more as they move forward in educating the nation’s children.
All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual. - Albert Einstein
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A Psalm of Praise-Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.


















 
 
 









 


Monday, 1 December 2014

The Work Continues to Eradicate HIV/AIDS Stigma and Discrimination

Today, December 1, World Aids Day, is one of the most recognizable international health days. On

this day the world pauses to bring awareness to the struggles of those impacted and living with

HIV/AIDS. The theme for the 2014 World is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-Free Generation.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) some 35 million people worldwide are living

with HIV/AIDS, of this number 3. 2 million are children. Since the first cases of HIV/AIDS were

reported in 1981 some 39 million individuals have died. It is estimated that some 240,000 people in

the Caribbean are living with HIV/AIDS. Jamaica has an estimated 32, 000 people living with

HIV/AIDS. The Caribbean is second to Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of HIV prevalence. The WHO

estimates that over seventy percent of those infected live in the Sub-Saharan region. It is estimated

that The Bahamas has the highest HIV prevalence in the Caribbean at 3.1 percent of its adult

population, Trinidad and Tobago has a HIV prevalence rate of 1.5 percent of adult population and

Jamaica’s HIV prevalence rate is 1.7 of its adult population. The Caribbean like many other parts of

the world continue to struggle with discrimination and stigma as it relates to those individuals who

have been infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.To some extent this stigma and discrimination is borne

out of many misconceptions and myths surrounding the transmission of this virus. As a result many

persons who are afflicted with this disease choose not to disclose their status with their partner/s

and family members out of a fear of being rejected. The unwillingness among the wider society to

show passion and kindness contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS.  It is this entrenched
discrimination and an unforgiving culture that helps to fuels the spread of AIDS.  For many young

Jamaicans who are embarking on their sexual journey it is very daunting for them to readily access

condoms. We need to eradicate the stigma that is very much alive and pervasive in the Caribbean,

particularly in Jamaica. We need to thoroughly examine the various messages that are being

circulated especially within the popular culture, some of which are clearly negative. Probably, we

need to use more of the popular culture art form to fight the harmful spirit of stigma and

discrimination which is still an issue regarding HIV/AIDS.  The availability of antiretroviral drugs has

contribution greatly to delay the progression from HIV to AIDS. In fact with advanced treatment

individuals with HIV are almost at undetectable levels due to the breakthrough in medical science.

Such treatment and medication have drastically improved the quality of the life for those living with

AIDS. We now live in a time that with diet, exercise and medication (which is relatively expensive)

an individual who is HIV positive can live well into his/her 70,s which was not possible some years

ago. However, we should never let our guard down regarding HIV/AIDS; instead we should continue

to educate the population using all available resources and media, including social media to

promote a message of sexual responsibility and healthy lifestyle choices for all Jamaicans.

Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Proverbs 19:17


Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Poem-A Travesty of Justice

Your agonizing face
tells your story,
Our story,
A nation’s story.
Its a familiar script,
with changing characters and setting.
I feel your pain.
Your inaudible groans speaks to us,
piercing the silence of the night
You will never be whole again
Your baby boy is gone
Gone but forgotten
The healing properties of time will soothe your pain
Together we stand in your moment of grief.
A travesty of justice.

© November 2014 Wayne Campbell

Words of Wisdom-Proverbs 12:17-19

He who speaks truth tells what is right, But a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Prayer for Spiritual Strength

Ephesians 3:20-21

20 Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Lime,s New Fees Dampens Festivity

All LIME customers would have by now seen an accompanying letter with their November bill from the CEO of LIME Caribbean informing them of an additional monthly fee of $262 inclusive of taxes as of January 1, 2015. According to LIME customers who do not sign up for ebilling will have to pay this additional cost to have their bill printed and sent to them by traditional mail.
This decision by LIME is unfair since the company has given their customers less than 2 months notice of their intended action to impose this added charge on monthly bills. There are many customers who do not have access to a computer. What about the older LIME customers who might not be as computer savvy as others? Will there be any provisions made at the LIME branches to assist customers in signing up? The November dated letter by the CEO did not mention anything to this effect.
According to LIME their decision to go ebilling is more convenient and cost-effective, however, I humbly ask is this decision more convenient for all your customers LiME?
LIME, s decision to impose this additional charge at this time is most ill-advised and goes against being good corporate citizens. What about those customers who are on a fixed income, such as pensioners? What about customers who are on a wage freeze?
Additionally, the recent acquisition by LIME,s parent company Cable & Wireless of FLOW has drastically limited the Jamaican consumer right to choose. This move cannot be in the best interest of the customer. What is the message being sent by LIME? Should we expect more of this high handed approach in the future as the company purchase their competitors and strengthen your monopoly?
LIME, s pending decision has certainly put a damper on the festive season.  I hope LIME revisit their decision and give their customers a bit more time. Let us all have a merry Christmas.    
Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Inspirational Moment

Have you ever questioned the purpose of your being?
If you have, what are the answers that have come your way?
Are you living solely for yourself?
Do you find time to reach out and help that someone who is in need?
Do you find the time to enquire about the welfare of someone else?
We can be selfish at times.
However, make a difference in the life of someone this week.
Never be too busy or too taken up with your issues to reach out to someone.
Life is too short.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Public Hearings Necessary for State Boards Seats

The Jamaican state is urgently in need of reform in terms of governance. There is much that is wrong in the society regarding how we appoint individuals to serve on boards of state entities. The cavalier and political divisive manner in which appointments to state board is done has manifested itself in the ongoing debacle now facing the remaining board members of the National Housing Trust who have refused to resign. 
Despite being appointed by the Prime Minister; it is clear that they have failed to understand that they are servants of the people of Jamaica. Such arrogance and rudeness is most unbecoming and does not inspire much hope for the future of Jamaica. Then again this is nothing new since the interest of the country is always a distant second to the interest of the two main political parties, yet we speak of national development.
The time has come for us to remove from having our politicians appoint members to state boards. Successive governments over the years have done this country a major disservice with their partisan politics and now we are paying dearly for their insular and selfish actions. May God help us.
We are now at that juncture in our country’s history where we need a mature approach to governance. However, since we are not there are yet maybe we should have public confirmation hearings where those who are nominated to serve on government boards can be rigorously quizzed and thoroughly questioned by members of the public. Those who are nominated to serve in such capacity must be prepared to answer questions from civil society before they are confirmed to serve as board members.
We need to strive towards an era of transparency and civility in this regards.
Frankly, we need to move away from having the same individuals serving on multiple state boards. Is it that only a select few in the society have the skills set necessary to serve their country? If this is so then we are in big trouble.  Oftentimes such member they have no knowledge and or expertise in the industry. We need to know the educational background of such individuals and clearly this would be exposed at a public confirmation hearing.  The people of Jamaica deserve better especially in a time of great personal sacrifice.  Have we forgotten the pledge of good governance to the people?
In the words of the apostle Luke: "But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more”.  Let us recommit ourselves to this nation of ours, it’s not too late to make a u-turn and do what is decent and socially responsible.
Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

International Men,s Day 2014

It is time for men to take center stage. International Men’s Day (IMD) is an annual global event celebrated on November 19. The day was conceptualized by Jerome Teelucksingh in 1999.
There are six pillars of International Men’s Day (IMD). These are: working together to promote positive role models, to celebrate men’s positive contributions, to focus on men’s health and well being, to highlight discrimination against males, to improve gender relations and gender equality and finally to work together to create a safer and better world.
For far too long this very significant day has not found the buzz it deserves in the Jamaican landscape. However, this year the Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), Mona Unit, commemorated International Men’s Day under the theme: ‘Boys at risk in the Education System’ by having a silent march around the Ring Road of the University of the West Indies as well as hosting an interactive public education session.
This is most timely given the concern regarding the under achievement and participation of our males across all levels of the education system.
The global theme for International Men’s Day is “Working Together for Men and Boys”.
As a developing society, Jamaica is still a far way off from achieving harmonious gender relations between both sexes.
The society clearly needs to pay more attention to the issues affecting our males and boys, this will inevitably strengthen family life making Jamaica a safer and better place to live. 
In celebration of International Men’s Day there are some critical areas of concern which require our collective efforts in order to keep men and boys safe and by extension our families and communities. These are:
In the first instance the society needs to pause and take a serious look at male suicide which is on the increasing. This is especially troubling as we continue to see an increase in domestic violence in which males usually kill themselves afterwards.
Secondly, we must make a concerted effort to keep our boys safe so they can become tomorrow’s role models. Thirdly, the society urgently needs to tackle the level of violence against men and boys.
The fourth area of concern is that of boosting men’s life expectancy by keeping men and boys safe from avoidable illness and death. The fifth area of concern highlights discrimination against males in the area of the law and social services.
Last but by no means we need to keep men and boys safe by promoting fathers and male role models.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), men are three times more likely to commit suicide. This gender disparity in suicidal rates can be partly explained by the fact that men tend to use more lethal means of ending their lives such as hanging and shooting. We live in a society where the issue of mental health is not readily spoken about. The tendency is for us to exclude from social events members of our families who suffer from mental disorders in an attempt to paint a picture of sanity for those looking on. Jamaica is considered to have a low suicidal rate of around 2.26 per 100.000. However more can and should be done to reduce this rate. The Jamaican culture also plays a significant role in explaining why our males often times shy away from going to the doctor. Boys for the most part are socialized to be rough and tough and unfortunately gender stereotype runs counter to the notion of men seeking medical attention. This portrayal of toughness does not sit well with the ideal hegemonic view of masculinity to which most males adhere to. As men we usually wait and wait until the pain has become unbearable and intolerable before we seek out medical care. This tendency certainly has negative implications for the quality of life for our men. It can be argued that men are socialized in a gendered manner to bear pain as much as possible. A male who readily seeks medical attention is not viewed favourably by other males and indeed the wider society as this is not considered as manly or macho. As a result many men suffer in silence from various health issues, a significant part of this suffering also impacts the mental status of our men. Men are always the last to go and talk with a counsellor or psychiatrist because of pride and the male ego.  No wonder the suicidal rates for men are higher than that for women.  Additionally, the accessibility and affordability of mental care should be of grave concern, not enough public sector mental health facilities or mental health practitioners exist in our society. Even where one can access mental health practitioners the cost is usually prohibitive for the average Jamaican family.
The issue of positive role models for our young men to emulate cannot be overstated. Positive male leadership is woefully lacking across all sectors of the Jamaican society. Our institutions of socialization, namely the school and church have failed our young men in terms of providing positive role models for our boys to emulate.
Our female dominated schools and classrooms provide very little avenue for our males to be mentored and or emulate male leadership.  With more and more families being headed by females there has been and continues to be the urgent need for men of good character and standing in the society to mentor our boys. A mother cannot teach her son how to be a man.
All is not lost in Jamaica, we have projects such as the Back2Life project a Rotary Club of Kingston initiative geared at comprehensibly rehabilitating approximately 100 boys housed at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Centre. The Back2Life programme offers one on one male mentoring, life skills training, life coaching and family support. 
From the moment a male is born he can expect to live a shorter life than his female counterpart in almost most countries of the world. In Jamaica the life expectancy rate for males is 71.5 years compared to 75 years for females. A number of factors can be forwarded to explain why men die earlier than women. One such school of thought is the fact that men tend to be more violent and aggressive in nature than women.  According to a World Health Organization (WHO)Human Violence Report, each year 1.6 million people die from violence with a significant percentage of that number being males. There is clearly a need for a campaign for the elimination of violence against men and boys globally. There should be zero- tolerance of violence against any male regardless of his socio-economic background, sexual orientation or political affiliation. Addressing each of these challenges male face will great assist men and boys all over the world to be safe and live longer, happier and healthier.  
In working together for the good of men and boys we must examine the society in which we live. For the most part we live in a very violent society. In fact most of the victims and perpetrators of crimes are males. According to the Jamaica Constabulary Force Statistics Division Jamaica recorded 1045 murders in 2002, this number increased to 1335 in 2006. A worrying trend is the high levels of participation of children especially males in criminal activities. Data provided from the 2006 Economic Social Survey of Jamaica (ESSJ) stated that children especially boys, alarmingly some as young as aged twelve were identified as offenders for a significant proportion of all major crimes. It is very clearly that we are failing our youths especially our adolescent males if it is that so many of them are turning to a life of crime or will become a victim of a criminal activity. Our boys cannot and will not succeed in such a violent and unsafe environment. The overwhelming majority of our street kids are males some of whom are of school age and should be attending school. Instead they are begging or wiping car windows at major intersections across the country. Despite the budgetary constraints more can and should be done for these youngsters. The emphasis is now on the wider society to partner with the state to implement enrichment programmes to adequately address the special needs of our males in order to transform their lives.
We need to focus our attention on early cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment of male cancers especially prostate cancer which is rather prevalent in the society.  Promoting gender equality must include examining those specific issues affecting and impacting men separate and apart from those of women. It cannot be that the issues of men are boxed in a state entity which for the most part only serves the women’s rights.  Our boys continue to under-perform and under achieve at all levels of the education system in the society from the primary to the tertiary level.  No doubt this disturbing trend will continue for some time if it is that as a society are boys do not feel a sense of security and safety in the space they occupy and manoeuvre on a daily basis.   One way to address the plight of our disadvantaged and at risk boys is by means of “recuperative masculinity politics” which calls for a reasserting of masculine privileges in light of the fact the specific needs of our boys are subsumed under the priority given to girls.
We seriously need to revisit our national gender policy with the aim to ensure that neither sex is being disadvantaged. On this very important day let us celebrate our collective masculinity while at the same time recognizing our differences as men. Let us recommit and regain our roles in our families as we work towards improving gender relations and promote unity in the Jamaican society.  
Waste no time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.-Marcus Aurelius-Roman Emperor
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Unite To End All Forms Of Bullying

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”.-Bishop Desmond Tutu
Bigotry is at the root of all cases of bullying. Bullying in all its forms and manifestations is wrong and has no place in a modern day society.  Research has shown a co- relation between bullying and suicide. Bully-related suicide can be connected to any type of bullying, including physical bullying, emotional bullying, cyber bullying, and sexting, or circulating suggestive or nude photos and/or messages about a person.
Sexual bullying involves comments, jokes, actions, or attention that is intended to hurt, offend, or intimidate another person.  It is more common than we think, and it affects pupils in both single sex high schools and co-educational high schools alike.
As with any form of bullying, the perpetrator seeks out that individual who is considered the weakest among the pack. Sexually bullying is no different. This form of harassment is usually seen more often in high schools as against primary schools. The focus of sexual bullying is on body parts, as well as, the victim’s appearance and or perceived sexual orientation. Boys can harass members of the opposite sex as well as members of their same sex. Girls can harass members of their same sex and even members of the opposite sex. Disturbingly, adults also sexually harass children.
Sexual orientation has to do with whom one mostly finds sexually and romantically attractive to.  A girl who gets crushes or who is sexually attracted to a member of her same sex may consider herself lesbian.
The Jamaican society continues to operate in a hypocritical and paradoxical nature regarding sexual orientation. Notwithstanding this Jamaica is still considered by the outside world as a highly homophobic society.
As a nation we have failed our young people in terms of providing good role models. The Jamaican education system has not showed the seriousness that is required to lessen the numerous instances of bullying (unreported and reported) which occur daily in our schools. Sadly many teachers and school administrators are insensitive to this torment suffered by the victims of bullying. In some instances the cases of bullying are to numerous and stretches the resources of the school. Our parenting skills in this society leave much to be desired. A significant number of our children live in dysfunctional family units.  This fact is supported by recent findings of the National Family Planning Board of Jamaica. According to its chair person, Sandra Knight “the Jamaican family is deteriorating significantly and it's a cause for great concern”.
There has been a shift in family structure over the years resulting in single family female-headed households becoming the norm. It bears thought therefore that here lies the genesis of most of the problems/issues affecting the Jamaican family today. A single mother cannot adequately supervise her children. Fathers have abandoned their parenting role in exchange for the bar, street corner, morgue and or prison. The breakdown of the concept of the extended family is quickly disappearing from the Jamaican family.  Many fathers’ names do not appear on the birth certificate of their children. The absence of our fathers in the rearing of our children especially our boys continue to add added stress on the family structure.  Our children no longer attend Sunday and or Sabbath School. The moral teachings that the church provides is therefore absent. In our schools the teaching of Religious Education is optional for students so many of our students have no moral compass from which to differentiate right from wrong. Sunday the traditional day for worship is now a day of fun and frolic in the sun.  Additionally, our crude and sexually laced popular culture namely dancehall music also adds to the destruction path we are on.  Our proximity to North America and the influx and influence of subscriber television (cable television) are all factors which have greatly contributed to the abandonment of old values and good family life practices to that of new questionable values. As we become more sophisticated and modern pornography has become more rampant in the society. Sexting” is now the norm rather than the exception for many teenagers. This is one way in which gossip, and sexually laced comments maybe spread to destroy people’s self esteem and character especially in a relatively small space such of that of a school.
Therefore we should not be surprised that our children are now experimenting with sexual diversity in this digital era we now live in. Children receive formal and informal messages about their gender identity from a multitude of sources. Some of which are, their families, their peers, their communities and of course the media. Your gender identity is who you feel as if you are on the inside (male, female, both, neither, flexible) While your gender expression has to do with how your act on the outside, that is, how you walk, talk, sit, dress, and so on. Both gender identity and gender expression impact whether one sees him/herself as more masculine than feminine or vice versa. This always impacts how other individuals see and respond to you.
A few years ago a prominent all girls schools in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) area had issues with older girls sexually harassing young girls. However, this is not unique to any one category of school. All our educational institutions, both co-educational and same- sex have had and continue to deal with such issues.
What can and should be done? The first line of defense against sexually bullying lies with the major stakeholder of the education system. One must ask the question is there a policy guideline regarding bullying or is it that the issue of bullying is left to individual schools to be dealt with? A sexual harassment policy or a bullying policy should be put in place to clearly inform all stakeholders that this type of behaviour is unacceptable. This policy should also outline the sanctions and penalties that will be applied if anyone decides to go ahead and bully another person. Clearly we need to address the wider issue which presents itself. Our unwillingness as a society to have a mature and frank discussion on matters pertaining to sexual orientation contributes greatly to bullying. Additionally, school administrators must become more vigilant in terms of bullying which takes place at their schools. Too many of our teachers and administrators are insensitive to the needs of those students who are being bullied. We should also encourage our children to speak out whenever they have been abused and or threatened.
There is clearly a pressing need to have ongoing workshops for teachers to remind of and expose them to the rights of all children. By so doing teachers will be better able to assist wherever the need present itself. We need a multisectoral approach to incorporate all the agencies of the state that work with children to work towards eradicating bullying in our schools. Too many of our students continue to suffer in silence.   
There is an urgent need for us to engage the stakeholders of the education more rigorously to protect our students. We need to support and strengthen our Parent Teachers Associations.
Creating classroom and bathroom messages in our schools would also assist in emphasizing that no one has the right to abuse and or invade another person space.  
We have a collective responsibility to the next generation of Jamaicans to ensure their safety and security while they are in school.  The truth is these many of our students developed predatory traits over the years due to the violent nature of the society. However, our schools must become places of zero tolerance against bullying and violence. Our schools must reclaim what they once were; a safe and protected environment for all students regardless of their differences to fully maximize their potential.
“Knowing what's right doesn't mean much unless you do what's right.”
―  US President Theodore Roosevelt 

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com


 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Manufacturers, Follow Jamaica Public Service Company,s Lead

The recent news by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) that customers will see a reduction of approximately 8.4% in their November light bill is welcome news for the Jamaican consumer. This pending reduction in electricity bill is made possible due to the fall of world oil prices. The collapse of world oil prices is a result of an oversupply of the community due largely in part that supply from the United States of America unconventional fields is rising faster than global demand. Additionally, increase in output mainly from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait both members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have contributed to a glut on the market. According to some reports, both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have indicated an unwillingness to reduce output. It is therefore, possible to see even further reduction of world oil prices. 
While the news from the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) is most timely, coming just in time for Christmas,we must ask ourselves why is it that the Jamaican consumer is not benefitting more from lower prices of goods and services due to the decrease of world oil prices.  Why is it that the Jamaican consumer did not we see a reduction in their October light bill? After all, world oil prices has been on the decline for quite some time.
A barrel of oil is at its lowest since October 2010 at around $81 per barrel. Global oil consumption is currently at 90 million barrels daily driven mainly by demand for transportation fuels. 
Given the fact that electricity cost plays a major role in Jamaica’s manufacturing sector, we should by now be reaping some lower cost, as consumers, as Brent crude oil has been falling over the weeks. 
Interestingly, when world oil prices is on the increase the manufacturing sector does not wait a minute before they pass on the consumer the higher cost for goods and services.
It is time the Jamaican manufacturers pass on to consumers whatever price reduction accrued from lower world oil prices. This will undoubtedly ease the economic burden on consumers and provide some temporary respite; however, may be its possible that some manufacturers are instead waiting for the price of oil to increase once again.  Let us for once think about the poor consumer instead of the bottom line.
Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com

 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Jamaicans must safely medicate regarding Chikungunya Virus

As more and more Jamaicans continue to be infected and impacted by the chikungunya virus the news emerging from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not very encouraging.
According to the Center for Disease Control the chikungunya outbreak in the Caribbean will continue to spread with no sign of slowing down. With all fourteen parishes now reporting cases of this painful and debilitating mosquito borne disease Jamaicans from all section of the society have been turning to non traditional forms of medical care.
As the medical fraternity struggles to arrive at a vaccine or cure for the chikungunya virus infection many Jamaicans have sought relief from those who proclaim themselves as herbalists.
The relapse of chikungunya virus is as severe or in some instances more severe than being first infected.  The sad reality is that many Jamaicans risk drug poisoning since a lot of these natural herbs have properties which may pose serious problems to those patients who are also taking prescription drugs.
For the most part the nutraceutical industry is unregulated, and as such just about anyone can put a drug on the market making unbelievable claims as a cure all for all ailments.
Unlike the United States of America, which has a robust oversight body in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Jamaica does not currently have such an oversight body which regulates the entry of drugs on the market. The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by regulating human and animal drugs, biologics for example, vaccines and cellular and gene therapies), medical devices, food and animal feed, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.
As humans we are at our most vulnerable whenever we become ill. When one is sick and constantly in pain one is likely to try just about anything that comes along offering relief.  In recent times a lot of claims have been made by various manufacturers of these wonder drugs. The newest wonder drug on the market is Colloidal Silver “miracle water” which many Jamaicans have turned to in the hopes of getting relief from pain associated with the chikungunya virus.
The Jamaican government has a responsibility to the public to ensure the all drugs sold in public spaces adhere to strict guidelines. The Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) have estimated that more than 13 million man hours have been lost to the chikungunya virus resulting in economic losses of more than $6billion as workers continue to stay off the job while recovering. A healthy workforce is necessary in order to solidify gains made from the sacrifices of the average Jamaican.    
Wayne Campbell

Friday, 7 November 2014

Gender Issues in Jamaica Requires Attention

The 2014 Global Gender Gap Index Report by the World Economic Forum has been published and Jamaica has dropped 5 places with a global ranking of 52 out of 142 countries. In 2013 Jamaica was ranked at 47. This is very much disturbing and speaks to the lack of attention the society pays to gender based issues. The Global Gender Gap Index Report examines countries around the globe regarding gender equality. Gender equality is the measurable equal representation of women and men. Gender equality does not mean that both sexes are the same; however, gender equality  speaks to having equal value, opportunities and treatment for both men and women. The Global Gender Index Report measures the relative gaps between men and women across four key indicators: health, education, economy and politics. The United Nations and rightly so regards gender equality as a human right.
A number of Caribbean islands have fared much better than Jamaica in the latest Global Gender Report regarding the gender equality in their society. Cuba is the top ranked island with a global ranking of 30. Barbados has a ranking of 33. The Bahamas has a ranking of 35 and Trinidad and Tobago has a global ranking of 49.  Not surprisingly the top five ranked countries are occupied by Nordic countries. These countries continue to make a concerted effort to include and integrate women in all spheres of their society therefore it should not come as a surprise to see them occupying the top positions. Iceland is ranked as number 1. Finland is number 2, Norway is 3, Sweden is 4 and Denmark has a global ranking of 5. The United States of America has a global ranking of 20 while China comes in at 87. Yemen has the lowest ranking of 142. Pakistan has a global ranking of 141.
Two recent incidents in Jamaica have reinforced the fact that much more work is required for us to attain gender equality. The Jamaican society needs to be sensitize and engage all stakeholders in programmes and policies geared at improving gender relations and gender equality.
The first incident was the pronouncement by the National Family Planning Board that there has been an increase in women raping men. This issue is not entirely new since older women having been forcing themselves on teenage boys for a long time. Additionally, the growing cougar phenomenon has added fuel to the older men/younger man discourse. The second incident was the flexi-rape comment by a senior government senator in Parliament.
The issue of rape is not a joke; in fact rape is categorized by the United Nations as a weapon of war.
Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com
www.wayaine.blogspot.com