Thursday, 3 September 2009

Better Role Models: Better Decisions

Address to the Caribbean Broilers Scholarship Awardees

August 26, 2009

Better Role Models – Better Decisions

Master of Ceremonies Dr Keith Amiel
• Mr Lyn, Mrs Lyn and other Executives and Staff of Caribbean Broilers
• Caribbean Broilers Scholarship Awardees
• Ladies and Gentlemen

A little girl was at playschool one day drawing. She was so young that she was not able to write as yet, but she was very focused on drawing with her crayons. Her teacher came over and asked her, “Jody Ann what are you doing.”

“I am drawing a picture of God,” the little girl said.

“But that is impossible,” the teacher corrected her gently, nobody can know what God looks like.

“They will when I am finished,” Jodi Ann said.

Just a few days ago, all of us who call ourselves Jamaicans, whether we live in the homeland or not, were delirious with joy and with pride when our track athletes accomplished something that only a few years ago seemed to be the impossible – we were for a day or so, at the top of the medal table at the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Championships.

What a privilege to witness those moments when sprinter Usain Bolt went to work and break his own two world records. What a joy to know that the team earned five gold medals and according to the Gleaner yesterday, fourteen members of our team brought home World Championship medals from Berlin. The national passion for athletics made the impossible possible.

The pleasure was even sweeter when we reflect that that the achievements were being made by young people, Veronica, Melaine, Shelly Ann, Michael, Asafa and others. Young people who have earned the marvellous wages of honest labour which is victory, honour and a bright future to live for.
Today however, right here, right now at Caribbean Broilers Group, we are celebrating something just as important. We are recognising your achievements; your wages of honest labour, your victory, your honour. Help me to recall the well known African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child because that is what is being demonstrated here today. Caribbean Broilers is doing its part to nurture the children in its village, the children of the staff that make it a great company. It is a company that is living up to its responsibilities.

Responsibilities are not only for adults. Children also have their responsibilities in a village. Maybe you have chores at home or positions at school. Maybe you help to take care of the younger children or do things for the senior folks. When it comes to your educational responsibilities I know you hear it every day, “do your very best” and “use your time wisely.”

However, education alone will not put you in the place high place of honour. I had a look at last year’s programme and saw this wonderful quote by a great leader, Martin Luther King, "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” The Reverend is guiding us to make the effort and build our character.

In the village that raises a child there is room for not only the financial sponsor or the Godparent, but the mentor and the role model. I want to encourage you to choose your mentors and role models well.

There are a couple of stories that I love to remember that remind me about what good things can happen when young people, children, choose mentors and role models that help to shape them into great adults.

Cold Spring is a remote village in Hanover. When people in Cold Spring say that they are going to town, they mean that they are going to the bigger village of Pondside. Some years ago, a sixteen year old girl listened to the Olympics on the radio and heard when a Jamaican won the 200 metre race. She never met him. She never knew anybody who ran for Jamaica much less the Olympics, but that young man and his achievements became her role model and she was inspired to make athletics her passion. That girl was Merlene Ottey and she is the most decorated track athlete that the world has ever seen. She was and is a role model for generations of our female athletes. Her role model was Donald Quarrie, a talented, ambitious, persistent athlete. Merlene chose role models like him that inspired her to greatness.

The United States of America (USA) is a great country which is great because of what the leaders have done for the people. One of the revered leaders was President Abraham Lincoln. The story is often told of his very poor background starting with his birth in a one room board house (log cabin) in the woods. Abraham had only 18 months of school in his entire life yet he was a great visionary and leader who brought glory to his country and unity to his people. His role model was right there in his home, his stepmother, a woman who encouraged his thirst for knowledge and who treated him just as how she treated her own children. From her he learned about justice and equality. Abraham Lincoln went on to practice this by being the president who abolished slavery in the entire USA. His role model showed love and practiced honesty, justice and fairness. He chose a good role model.

In January this year, I am sure that you witnessed Barak Obama being inaugurated as the 44th President of the USA. It was very unlikely that a boy from his background would become President. Nobody from Hawaii had ever become president. Mr Obama was not from a connected family and of course the most obvious reason against him seemed to be that he was a black man.

In his speeches and writing, Mr Obama showed that he found a role model in Abraham Lincoln. Mr Obama put Mr Lincoln’s message of unity into practice and from that he was able to unite his nation under an idea of hope and be elected President. The two men, Lincoln and Obama could never meet. Lincoln died 97 years before Obama born but Lincoln’s words of the importance of unity in a nation: that a house united cannot fall; that we must live by the law and not above the law remained true across the years. Unity for strength is a value that Barak Obama embraces. He chose a good role model.

My scholarship awardees, know that every accomplishment that you will ever make will start in your mind. Allow yourself to be filled with those things which are good and true and will motivate you towards greatness. Choose role models like our athletes who value hard work, persistence and fair play. Find role models that promote excellence in your job, like the youngest person ever to fly a plane around the world, Jamaican-born Barrington Irving. Embrace role models that promote giving, like platinum award winning Jamaican entertainer, Shaggy. Be inspired by role models that promote dignity and self respect, like National Hero Marcus Garvey.

Just as the job of your parents is to earn a salary here at Caribbean Broilers Group and nurture you, your job for the next few years is to continue to be a good student and to develop your character that will make you achieve your full potential. It is going to be an exciting time in your life and I promise you that when you choose the right role models and mentors you will make better decisions that will take you ahead.

I will keep today’s programme safe because in only a few short years I will be reading about something marvellous that you will be doing very soon and I want to go back to my programme and remember this afternoon. Congratulations on your achievements and my best wishes to you on a good year. Thanks for the opportunity to share this lovely afternoon with you and thanks for listening.