Faced with a global pandemic, IBI-Ambassadors rose to the challenge of delivering essential gears and services, while employing creative approaches for virtual peer mentorship and support. The GGPE Secretariat was motivated by the resilience of these Ambassadors and acted on the guidance of the Management Committee and Advisory Board to reframe our activities for yet another productive year.
The year started off with the GGPE’s participation in the third annual UK-Jamaica Fair. IBI-Ambassadors came out in their numbers to support the ushering of patrons to the GGPE’s walk-in display booth and were instrumental in helping to share information about the Governor-General’s Achievement Awards (GGAA) and the ‘I Believe’ Initiative – the primary branches of the GGPE.
Earlier this year the Executive Members of the IBI National Coordinating Committee (NCC) were elected. They are charged with helping to manage the sharing of information among the growing network of IBI Ambassadors and to help scope, track and report on the progress of interventions at the parish level. The NCC was pivotal in drafting the first ever Quick Reference Guide for IBI Ambassadors. This pocket-handbook guides the recruitment and operations of IBI Ambassadors spread across the island.
The year 2020 tested the many assumptions about: access to key services, technology and information. In an era that is challenged by fake news and false information, it was especially difficult to channel the truth about COVID-19 and provide remote and routine support.
The Secretariat, with the support of IBI Ambassadors, helped to share COVID-19 safety measures and tailor the 2020 activities to respond to new and emerging needs. In one example the Summer of Service (SOS) scholarship required participants to leverage technology and other resources to deliver their projects as one part of the requirements of the scholarship. A total of 13 scholarships were awarded this year to new and current recipients. The GGPE also created and distributed IBI-branded face masks in an effort to promote safety among its constituents.
Applications for the 2020 Governor-General’s Achievement Awards (GGAA) were received and managed through an electronic application system. Over 300 applications were received, and 35 persons will receive this prestigious award in February 2021 by way of a virtual ceremony that includes an Address from His Excellency The Governor-General.
The annual Youth Consultative Conference (YCC) was not held in 2020, but a webinar series, led by IBI Ambassadors was a noteworthy substitute. The sessions focused on project design and implementation and were delivered across five days to over 150 IBI Ambassadors.
In a year filled with turmoil and fear, there was certainly a lot to celebrate. The GGPE is proud to note that 2016 GGAA Awardee, Mr. Fitzroy Wickham, is the 2021 Rhodes Scholar for Jamaica. The Programme also celebrated Ms. Simone Dwyer, who completed her Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology at the University of Technology as the recipient of the Sir Patrick and Lady Allen 40th Anniversary Scholarship in 2016.
The GGPE welcomed IBI-Ambassador and 2013 Summer of Service Scholarship recipient, Mr. Abrahim Simmonds as its new National Coordinator. Mr. Simmonds succeeds Ms. Sonja Simms who resumed her substantive role as Press Secretary at King’s House. Project Officer, Mr. Andwayne Davis, also transitioned the Programme and now serves as the Records and Special Library Manager at King’s House.
The experiences, successes and lessons of the past year will become the baseline for an even more productive year in 2021. The GGPE is grateful for the unwavering support of its sponsors and stakeholders.
Certainly, there is much more work to do. The Programme is pre-paring for a period of growth that is built on strategic partnerships and a strengthened network of IBI Ambassadors committed to building Jamaica, starting with our families, youth and education.