Category Archives: Jamaica Life

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

Today is a day of renewal for me. Today is the day I allow my mind and body to drift deliciously from slumber to wakefulness. I allow my ears to appreciate the symphony of birdsong outside the window panes. Today there is no urgency in my step. I have captured time and made it my slave. For today only. A fresh cup of tea is fully savoured.

It is Saturday. Today I get to unwind and push sad statistics and stories to the furthest recesses of my mind. Working in Development can take an emotional toll on the mind and body. All the more reason to appreciate an opportunity for renewal.

Early morning in Hope Gardens, Jamaica

The Place

The place is Hope Gardens, Jamaica. Started as an experimental garden in 1881, transformed into a lush, manicured oasis complete with all manner of exotic plants, Hope Gardens has been through times of neglect and care. I was fortunate to capture this moment at approximately 6:30am.

I was lost in a dream made up of soft, green carpet and blue cotton candy sky. Floral closets and palm fronds cast long shadows across the grass in the morning light and a slight breeze skipped playfully through the foliage.

I inhale. Then I exhale. For now, that is enough.

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Top Entertainers host concert for primary school & pregnant teens

The beautiful Alaine belts out her lyrics

It is always great when persons give back. When that “giving back” is for the benefit of children, then of course I give it three thumbs up! Yes – I will borrow a friend’s thumb! Last Friday, songstress Alaine did exactly that as she celebrated her 34th birthday. The event dubbed Walking on Air featured a wonderful line up of performances. Apart from Alaine, the three that still stand out clearly in my mind are Tarrus Riley, Dean Fraser on sax and songstress Sherieta.

All proceeds from the event will be split between the Allman Town Primary School and Mary’s Child – a home for pregnant teens and their babies in Jamaica. I’m sure you will agree that this is indeed a worthy way to give back to society while celebrating one’s Earthstrong!

Tarrus Riley and Alaine entertain the crowd
Songstress Sherieta (contributed photo)

Just picture it – mellow vibe, packed venue, starlight, Blues cafe in the background, aroma of fine cuisine, glasses of wine glinting faintly… Add to that the beautiful Alaine resplendent in white/black mini dress, the electrifying presence of Tarrus Riley showing the “Lion Paw” and the deep, earthy lyrics being belted out by Sherieta.

It’s not over yet…

Now imagine you are being serenaded by smooth notes floating out from the saxaphone – courtesy of the famous and talented Dean Fraser.  

You should now have a smile on your face.

Do enjoy the photos (thank you Kate!) and video of Alaine performing one of her songs (No copyright infringment intended)

Tarrus Riley electrifies the stage
These patrons certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves!

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The Unsung Heroes of Caribbean Development

International development is all about civil society and governments pooling resources and efforts to change the conditions which give rise to poverty and inequality, in the process helping humans achieve their potential. Central to it all are human beings. Lives. People. For many of us involved in development work, we often start by thinking about everything we will bring to others’ lives. The solutions we are going to propose. The difference we will make. The interaction seems somewhat one-sided. Occasionally however, a light bulb goes off and in a brief instance of self-awareness, we are willing to admit that our perspective, ideas and thoughts are also being challenged, scrapped and rebuilt in the process. We become as much a beneficiary of the process of development as actors of change.

 Today I highlight a few faces and persons whom I’ve met along the way. For different reasons they’ve left an indelible impression on my mind. Their words changed something in me and flavoured my perspective – for the better, I think. Thanks to each of you for the role you’ve played in advancing the development of your nation – even without you realizing it! (Click the photos to be taken to the related stories).

Lorna Hamilton Henry. She challenged the status quo. She changed me. Lorna having been diagnosed with HIV many years ago, stood up and continues to speak out about discrimination against PLWHA. My encounters and work with her opened my eyes to some of the unconscious prejudices I held and instead transformed me into an advocate of her mission. Today Lorna runs a small NGO – Mothers2Mothers TnT. Check her out on Facebook to see how you can help.
Mr. Mason is no stranger to the Cuso Jamaica community. He is one of the first persons many of us meet. He runs an unofficial orientation session into Jamaican life, culture and music. Neville is an unending reservoir of fact & popular opinion that dates back to very early years. His unfailing courtesy and smile are always appreciated. He has been one of many sources of contextual information as I developed the child access to justice project.
I met this group of enthusiastic young men in Crossroads – while we were doing cutaway filming of graffiti. They were so open and friendly. Reminded me of the innocence of childhood and all that we should be working to protect. It was also a sobering reminder of the obstacles our young men face in society as they navigate into adulthood.


All of us are not holders of PhD’s or recipients of public accolades. Yet this does not diminish the potential for our impact in society. I met this man in Trench Town a few months ago. As he stood in that position by the wall, he related many stories of Bob Marley’s life and the changes the community has undergone over the years. What a sobering reminder of the importance of the elders in our communities. Through their presence and story-telling, traditions and customs are preserved and history is archived for the benefit of future generations.


There is a popular saying that tells us we should not judge by appearances. Orlando Hamilton reinforced this lesson to me in a lasting way. I met him in the Burgher Gully community of East Kingston a few months ago. Orlando is a UNICEF X-Changer. This programme aims to give critical skills to young persons in communities severely affected by violence. The project is a brainchild of Trinbagonian star Machel Montano. Orlando, through his work both at home & abroad, has fulfilled his mission to resist the stereotypes given to persons from inner city communities. He has a remarkable story – one that will be featured very soon on ISLAND VIGNETTES. Look out for it!

Finding perspective…

Today is a time of reflection and finding balance. We’ve journeyed through the global financial crisis, life in the inner city and violence against children. The stage – the Caribbean. Today I offer you a peek at some gems I discovered as I searched for perspective in nooks and crannies all over this island. A simple reminder of the things we work to protect. Do enjoy.

A beautiful flower in Cinchona Gardens

Refreshing air at Hollywell Park.
The allure of the Blue Mountains
Lilies at Cinchona Gardens
An idyllic afternoon in TrenchTown
Sunset in Trelawny
Old Mill house at Clydesdale Estate
Pigeons at the Park

National Pride as Reggae Boyz finally beat USA

Hanging out with the Reggae Boyz before the big game against USA!

On Friday September 7th 2012, a milestone in the history of the Jamaican people was achieved.

After 21 outings, including 2 Olympic qualifiers (11 wins for the USA and 9 draws), Jamaica finally conquered their football nemesis and achieved a 2-1 victory over the USA! With a 27,000 strong crowd backing them in the National Stadium, the Reggae Boyz gave Jamaica a splendid gift on the anniversary of it’s 50th year of Independence. In typical Jamaican style, the game kicked off with a prayer. Spirits dampened quickly as the US scored within the first 45 seconds of the game. Thankfully it was their only goal for the night.

This game was an excellent reminder of the place of sport in nation building and national pride. For me, the most exciting part of it all was meeting the Reggae Boyz before the match. We gave them hugs and sent them off to win. So since it’s now established that I am partly the lucky charm, I’m off to find Trinbago’s “Soca Warriors” footballers. Just before I do – Congratulations Reggae Boyz!

Jamaica to the World: Olympic Victory “tun up” Half Way Tree!

Jamaica was the place to be yesterday as the country waited in painful anticipation for the results of the men 100m finals. Half Way Tree erupted in a wave of euphoric screaming and total chaos as their beloved Bolt and Blake cleared the finish line and sealed Olympic Gold & Silver. What a tribute to the Land of Wood & Water on the eve of its 50th year of Independence! Check out the video for a peek at jubilation on Jubilee’s eve! Forgive the shaking – I was also celebrating while taping! 🙂 Also check out these photos for patriotism – Jamaican style!

Flag man down in Crossroads
Lightpoles and fences get a Jamaica 50 makeover!
The Jamaican ladies represent their country – decked out from head to toe!
Jamaican youth are in the midst of the celebrations too!
When in Rome err Jamaica – do as the Jamaicans do!
This stylish Patriot shows the ladies how to do it!
This Jamaican man shows the ladies how it’s really done!

Jamaica 50 Event: Book Readings in Emancipation Park

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~ Dr. Seuss

Today Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, St. Lucia & Barbados celebrate Emancipation Day. On August 6th, Jamaica celebrates its 50th year of Independence from British rule. Everywhere you go, the pride of the Jamaican people is clear – from brightly coloured t-shirts, flag-draped vehicles, artfully decorated buildings and even fences and sidewalks painted in the national colours. Jamaica 50 fever truly has caught on! There are also a myriad of events going on throughout the country, allowing the citizenry to walk down memory lane, learn about their history or just spend quality time together. Here are some highlights from the recently held – Readings in the Park [Claude McKay to Olive Senior] & Unveiling of : Jamaican Literature – A Quest for Independence.

This standing poster tells a bit about the event
Sample of readings for the evening
A section of the audience at the reading
“Out of Order” Jamaican Authors. Some notable authors in this category include: Anthony C. Winkler, Evan Jones, Colin Channer, Patricia Powell & Opal Adisa Palmer
“This Lovely Wayward Island”. Noted authors include: Andrew Salkey & Neville Dawes
Post Independence Male Voices. Some of the featured authors include: A.L. Hendricks, Anthony McNeill, Edward Baugh & Mervyn Morris
Jamaicans Aroused: A look at Feminist Jamaica
Shaping Identity: Jamaican Children’s Books. I can still remember studying “A Cow called Boy” as part of English Literature class!