Saturday, March 20, 2010

How Did Jamaica become so Lawless and Violent?

Is our Romantic Island Dead and Gone?
My Appeal to the Gunmen of Jamaica.
Basil Waine Kong

Somewhere people feel safe, go out to restaurants and clubs at night with no concern about their safety, but not here in Jamaica. We are afraid. We now live in continual fear of kidnapping and violence. We are forced to bear the unbearable. No issue is more compelling here than the wanton murders committed five times each day---every day. There can be little hope for our country and little joy if these killings continue. In some communities, only the dead smile, glad to be at rest. A business woman is shot in her yard, the son of our Caddie Master is shot four times while he is sitting on his veranda with his family. A police officer is run over while trying to stop a vehicle. Criminals repeatedly breaking into schools to steal computers. What a guaan? Our government seems to have no clue. We are overwhelmed and paralyzed with fear. Perpetrators literally get away with murder in Jamaica as less than a third of homicides are solved. While there were over 1600 murders there where less than 100 convictions for homicides in 2009.

In 2009, New York City (12 million people) had less than 500 homicides compared to Jamaica (2.5 million) with more than 1,600 murders.

I appeal to you, whether you are a politician who place personal ambitions above the welfare of the country, a Don who terrorize some of our communities, a policeman who practice extra-judicial killings and otherwise abuse your power, a thief with a gun, a member of a gang or just an angry, disrespected or frustrated man or woman, let us send death on a holiday and cultivate forgiveness and harmony. It could become contagious.

If you have been wronged, the atrocity of your reprisal will create a lifetime burden on your soul. A tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye will only make us a country of toothless and eyeless people. In the name of God and your tormented countrymen, we beg, beseech and command you: Value human life and stop these murders. Whosoever destroys a single human life is as guilty as if he destroyed the entire world. The victims have children, grand children, mothers, fathers, other family and friends. The impact on their lives is always tragic and endless. Their belly bottom bun. Enough of their blood and tears. Come my friends, it’s not too late; let’s go back to the old Jamaica when everyone reached out to each other and felt safe. Let us rile against this crime. Someone has to stand up and shout "Enough already. We have had enough murders. Children Should Know Their Grand Parents.”

What kind of life are you bequeathing for yourself and your children? Time wounds all criminals. Are you aware that the life expectancy in Jamaica is the shortest for gunmen? You should not be surprised. If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword. While we work on promoting a more just society, give peace a chance. We implore you to stop being the problem and become part of the solution for this great country and the great God we serve.

We have survived slavery, economic meltdowns, earthquakes, train wrecks, hurricanes, floods, droughts, famines and epidemics, but the most tormenting is the tragedy of these senseless murders---cutting short the life of loved ones and all their potential future offspring.

We are a good people with loving arms to hold you, appreciate and nurture you. Give the gift of "peace and love” to each other. We have but one country and one destiny. The murder of any Jamaican diminishes me. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for all of us.

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man?
You love evil rather than good.
You who are a disgrace in the eyes of God
and grow strong by destroying others
Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin
(Psalm 52)


#8 Doug Richards 2010-04-06 07:03
We need to put fear of the police and jails back into the hearts and minds of criminals, or pretty soon you will have a beautiful country that no one wants to visit or live.

#7 Moi 2010-04-04 05:46
It is sad, glad I left years ago, returning for visits has to be short as I am not comfortable living like a prisoner to protect myself from the criminals, which should be the other way round.

This article will never reach those who should read it as most of them do not read, but are used in the game of corruption by those who can read.

#6 Humble Lion 2010-04-03 12:00
Jamaica oh Jamaica, what a wonderful land. The false reality of the new world is what messed up this great country. Jamaica lost a lot of their culture because they want to be too much like America. One person said only prayers can help…while that is the belief of many people, people have been praying for years and nothing have change. What we need to do is to know ourselves and know the power that we have. We need to step outside the box..

#5 Garth Nelson 2010-04-02 15:17
While I concur with every sentiment that has been expressed, I must confess that I still feel the nostalgia when I am home. That is why I emphasize so deeply with Dr. Kong because I have been away for 36 years, and my once lovely island is dying like a sick child in my arms.

Years of badly eroded leadership have damaged if not totally eradicated all the post-Independence successes we once enjoyed. Prayer is indeed our best answer at this time; God help us.

#4 Doreen Jones 2010-04-02 08:47
I am impatient for change because I am proud to be a Jamaican. Maybe the solution is education where people would be taught to read and write, to love themselves and each other and to create rather that destroy. Then and only then will there be the possibility of change where citizens will want to build because they believe they have a stake in society and in the country.

#3 Sheron Pearson 2010-03-31 10:52
I hope your heartfelt plea will not fall on deaf ears.

#2 Esteban Agosto Reid 2010-03-27 09:38
Could it be, that we have passed the Rubicon and there is no point of return? I sincerely hope not. But,indeed, one wonders.

#1 Doreen Jones 2010-03-23 15:21
It saddens me that I cannot go back to my beautiful island and that I am forced to live in an alien environment where I am despised. It saddens me that our women and children are not protected and are abused by those who are meant to protect.

It saddens me that those who purport to run my beloved island do neither love nor does anything for the people but fill their pockets with the bounty of those who believe because they lack color they are superior. It saddens me that there is no hope for my island.

I am afraid to return, I am afraid for my island and for my brothers and sisters. I need more faith.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Heart Institute of the Caribbean Foundation

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Heart Institute of the Caribbean Foundation (HICF), a heartfelt Thank you for your commitment to help reduce the ravages of cardiovascular diseases in Jamaica. I am reminded of Margaret Mead’s often repeated words: “Never underestimate that a small group of committed individuals can change the world. It is the only thing that ever has.”

For the past five years, the entire Caribbean has benefited from a state of the art Cardiac Centre (Heart Institute of the Caribbean) that is saving hearts and saving lives. As an accomplished scholar and successful healthcare entrepreneur, Dr. Ernest Madu served on the faculty of Cardiovascular Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School, one of the world’s most prestigious University Hospitals. He experienced first hand the effectiveness of modern treatment options for cardiovascular disease in improving the quality of life and the life expectancy of those who had access to these sophisticated interventions.

Over the years, Dr. Madu has taken time to study the health care system in Jamaica and other developing countries around the world. He concluded that even though much was being done cardiac care was a far cry from what was routinely available to patients in the United States. An environment that encouraged wealthy Jamaicans to seek premium healthcare in the USA and other European destinations is neither acceptable nor sustainable and is detrimental to our national economic and infrastructural development. In addition, this untenable approach denies appropriate care to most Jamaicans who are customarily denied these life saving options because they have no access to overseas institutions.

As the number of citizens needing this high quality cardiac care dramatically increased, the drain on the economy posed a major problem as more and more local dollars were being spent overseas to purchase these services. Interestingly, many of our wealthy citizens that depended on US and other overseas locations for their cardiac care have died suddenly at home from cardiac disease because of the absence of a well equipped local facility to respond to emergency situations. The time lapse to transport patients out of the country have had fatal consequences.

Convinced that Jamaicans and the developing world should have access to optimal levels of cardiovascular care locally, Dr. Madu mobilized private funds, encouraged participation from a small group of local physicians and leveraged relationships and resources to fund a multi-million dollar state of the art cardiovascular centre.
HIC has been active in the recruitment of the best trained and experienced cardiologists and technical staff to provide first rate care to Jamaicans and the wider Caribbean. This dream was realized in April, 2005 with the opening of the Heart Institute of the Caribbean in Kingston.

Because of this vision, Jamaica now has its first state of the art cardiovascular diagnostic, treatment and prevention centre. The centre has become the model for cardiovascular care for low resource countries and is the only such facility in the English speaking Caribbean. This accomplishment has become recognized and applauded worldwide by leading thinkers, institutions and organizations such as TED where Dr. Madu was invited in 2007 as a guest speaker to discuss the HIC model as well as Veer Stichting, in the Netherlands and the USA-Africa Private Investment Forum in Washington DC where Dr. Madu was the keynote speaker in October and November 2008 respectively. Most recently Dr. Madu was a featured lecturer to the top 50 executives at the General Electric Corporation in their Healthymagination Series.
He has recently been invited to share his expertise on the Indian subcontinent as the keynote speaker at the twelfth annual techno - management symposium, TECHNICHE 2010.

I consider it a privilege to work with these esteemed professionals to advance the cause of improving the quality of life for our people. I believe we are doing a tremendous amount of good.

The Foundation is a creation formed from need. We envision a sister organization that would support infrastructural and program development at the Heart Institute of the Caribbean; facilitate open access to cardiovascular care for patients in the Caribbean; subsidize or fund the cost of care for indigent patients who are in need of cardiovascular care; support and finance a wide scale cardiac resuscitation program in the Caribbean, including Open access to Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in public facilities and training individuals in their use and finally promote cardiovascular health and wellness in the region.

Our dream is that every school teacher, religious leader and every ordinary citizen in Jamaica will be recruited to preach the gospel of preventive health and wellness to combat this scourge on our nations’ health. In addition, we are trying to forge public- private partnerships with the Ministry of Health and other Non Governmental Organizations to provide cardiovascular services to all the public hospitals.

The HICFoundation is registered as a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization in the United States as well as approved by the Registry of Companies in Jamaica as an NGO. I hope you will join us to support the continued work of the HIC Foundation. Please contribute generously so we can continue to do this great work. Your tax deductible donation can save a life. Please help.


B Waine Kong, Ph.D., JD
Heart Institute of the Caribbean Foundation
3151 Rilman Road
Atlanta, GA 30327

23 Balmoral Avenue
Kingston 10