It is my pleasure to welcome each of you to the Annual IBI Ambassadors Luncheon, the final event on our annual calendar of activities, in this the fifth year of the I Believe Initiative. Let me at the outset express special thanks to Mr. Christopher Issa, IBI Ambassador, and the management of the Spanish Court Hotel for hosting us another year, at their expense. The trademark zen design of the property with its warm and inviting ambience creates the ideal environment in which to reflect on our work and accomplishments this past year.
Allow me also to extend a very special welcome to the Chinese Ambassador and wife, and other representatives from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese Embassy is one of the most substantive and consistent supporters of the I Believe Initiative. Their generosity of spirit has given us the opportunity to make meaningful contributions of audio visual equipment, classroom furniture, laptop and desktop computers to the IBI satellite campuses and outreach projects (at the Albert Town Edu-Skills Centre – Trelawny, The Associations of Clubs – Petersfield, Westmoreland, Spring Village Foundation – St. Catherine, and the Sherwood Forest Primary School, Portland).
I acknowledge those persons who will be inducted as IBI Ambassadors this afternoon. Evidently you share our common vision that by using what is right with Jamaica we can fix what is wrong with our country and so we commend you most heartily.
Since the launch of the IBI Ambassadors programme three years ago, nearly 200 Ambassadors across Jamaica have been inducted on the basis of the various activities conducted by their inspiration and passion to serve their fellowmen and participate in the development of their country.
Earlier in the year, some Ambassadors showcased their hard work in the Vision of Love Competition organized by the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence (GGPE) secretariat and which coincided with the observation of Valentine’s Day. Eight IBI Ambassadors participated and all received cash incentive awards to assist with ongoing implementation of their projects.
Ms. Tishauna Mullings, the effervescent IBI Ambassador from St. Thomas who emerged the winner of the competition was also selected to participate in the President Obama’s Youth Leaders of the Americas Initiative.
Just as Paul Bogle made that memorable journey from Stony Gut to Spanish Town to represent the hopes and aspirations of St. Thomas; so Tishauna journeyed from Morant Bay to Washington to articulate the voices, dreams and aspirations of Jamaican youth. In so doing, she further cemented the respectable position that Jamaica holds in the global family of nations.
In a matter of moments, one of Tishauna’s projects, the Little Genius Competition, will be endorsed by the I Believe Initiative. It is geared at inculcating confidence and positive values into our nation’s children.
Another of our IBI Ambassadors, Abrahim Simmonds, who is here with us today, has demonstrated value and cruciality of the IBI Summer of Service (SOS). Three years ago I met Abrahim who told of his challenges to begin his tertiary education; he did not have sufficient financial resources. He shared that while in the kitchen with his mother, gathering scraps of newspapers he saw an advertisement about the inaugural staging of IBI Summer of Service (SOS) Competition.
Abrahim applied, volunteered and became the first winner of the IBI SOS Competition. He was awarded a full scholarship to the University of the West Indies graduating last month, debt free, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work. Abrahim has dedicated his life to volunteerism. In fact, two days ago his project JAYECAN celebrated its 3rd anniversary and today it will also be endorsed by the I Believe Initiative.
Ladies and gentlemen, time only allows me to share only two examples of what our young people are doing to Inspire Individuals and Build Stronger Communities and I am sure there are many others whose activities we have not yet captured.
Other IBI Ambassadors are making us proud as we will hear from your reports. I am aware that there are concerns that some of your projects are not gaining the traction you would have liked at this time; but I encourage you not to give up.
You no doubt can identify with a former US President Franklyn Roosevelt that, “in the final analysis yours is not the task of making a way for yourselves in the world, but the task of remaking the world for the benefit of others.”
We have had some setbacks with the IBI Parenting 101 Programme but given the social problems spawned by weak parenting we are seized with the urgency to restore the programme.
Many of our IBI Ambassadors are involved in other social and service programmes. I want to encourage you to use those platforms to help increase the IBI’s visibility and national identity. Share information about your projects among yourselves and take wise counsel when it is offered and recruit others to join.
Next year, Jamaica will celebrate fifty-five years as an independent nation and this is a great opportunity for the I Believe Initiative to make a significant impact.
I want us to commit today, that next year we will redouble our efforts to ensure that our programmes and activities create tangible pathways for restoring hope, belief, and sound values in Jamaican families, our youth as well as in our education system.
In closing, I am encouraged by the number of persons who have expressed an interest in becoming IBI Ambassadors. I trust we can engage and inspire them.
I am going to make a special appeal for you to keep the positive energy of the IBI flowing. The energy you give out comes back to you, tenfold.
I thank sincerely each sponsor, partner, IBI Ambassadors, National Coordinator and Project Officer and all those who have touched other people’s lives and helped us to be a blessing to others, especially our young people.
I charge every Jamaican at home and abroad to join us on our mission to empower and motivate others to use what is right with Jamaica to fix what is wrong.
I thank you.