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Public sector debaters to take on corruption in semi-final 1

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THE Public Sector Debate Competition is down to the last four teams, which will compete for a spot in the April 25 grand final.

The remaining four teams – Ministry of National Security, Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Trelawny Municipal Corporation and Victoria Jubilee Hospital – will next meet in the semi-final round on Tuesday, April 9, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.

“Congratulations to all the teams. It has been a set of lively and spirited debates. The journey is competitive, but there is a spirit of camaraderie, and for that, I commend all the teams. I wish the teams that have made it to the semi-final all the best, and I am looking forward to the rest of the competition,” executive director of the Transformation Implementation Unit (TIU), Maria Thompson Walters, told JIS News.

The first semi-final match will see the JIS and the Ministry of National Security debating the moot: ‘Be it resolved that corruption remains a problem in the public sector because of the lack of political will to address it’.

In the second match the Trelawny Municipal Corporation and Victoria Jubilee Hospital will debate the moot: ‘Be it resolved that the profit motive of the private sector should be a guiding principle for Jamaica’s public sector’.

Under the competition’s theme, ‘Facing Issues, Influencing Solutions’, earlier rounds of the competition saw various public sector workers engaged in parliamentary-style debates on transformation and other topical matters within the public sector.

Friends, families and well-wishers of the teams are encouraged to track the competition on the TIU’s social media pages.

Team supporters are also encouraged to follow the TIU’s Instagram and Facebook pages and vote for their favourite team in the online ‘Fan Favourite’ competition, which ends on April 18. There will be a special prize for the most liked team photo on the TIU’s Facebook page TIUjamaica and Instagram page @tiu_jamaica.

The competition is spearheaded by the TIU in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, in partnership with the Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment Limited. The winning team will walk away with more than $600,000 in prizes and the champion trophy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Africa trip cut short saved breast cancer victim’s life

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Carol Whyte cut her trip to Africa short when she discovered a lump in one of her breasts.

A week and several tests later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It was early detection that saved me,” she told the Jamaica Observer North & East two Fridays ago at a function put on to raise awareness in Portland.

Today, Portland resident is celebrating 19 years cancer-free and is encouraging women to not shy away from mammograms.

“I was diagnosed within a week and a week after I had surgery and I had six rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. It is not an easy journey but if God is in your mind, in your heart and you think positive and work with what you have you can move mountains.

“You can’t overdo it, you can’t go back and do the same things you used to do before, you have to work with the energy that you have. My biggest problem was the energy and I had a full-time job and I had to take care of myself but I did it.

“I have always done the every year mammogram and that is very important and I try not to miss one because early detection is the key and also finding good people in your lives when you are going through it. If you don’t want to talk to your family call the different organisations and find somebody to talk to because it can be like a death sentence but it is not,” she shared.

Though the average age of women diagnosed with breast cancer in Jamaica is 52, which is eight years younger than the global average of 60 years, according to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Whyte was diagnosed at 40.

Approximately 60 per cent of women in Jamaica diagnosed with breast cancer are between the ages of 25 and 59, while about 25 per cent is over the age of 60.

“It is like a car accident and nobody leaves this earth without something and what you get is how you deal with it. I try to do the best I can every day and not try to overdo it,” Whyte noted.

“I worked at a hospital and we had an awareness date and some people get afraid because they think they going to catch it and I remember some of my friends would laugh at me because they would say, ‘You work out all the time. You eat good, so how come you get it?’ I say it is just one of those things, but I am not going to let that stop me; with God’s help, I’m going to continue to live.

“I recommend that persons go and do the mammogram and don’t stay away from it. It is better to go and do it than stay away and don’t wait until you are 50 and then find out that you have two weeks to live. If they were doing the test the possibility is that it can be detected and they are alive. Do your checks annually and even if your physician does not recommend it go and do it because they cannot deny you, it is for your own personal protection,” she continued.

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Over $1m raised for mammograms for Portland women

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The Sir Henry Morgan Angling Association (SHMAA) says it has raised just over $1 million to pay for mammograms for Portland women.

The announcement was made at SHMAA’s 56th Blue Marlin International tournament at Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio, Portland.

The money will be handed over to the Action Ann Foundation.

“We have a special donation of $60,000 from SHMAA and the National Health Fund, another $60,000 to the Action Ann Foundation to provide free mammogram tests for the women of Portland. I am putting it out on the floor for others to donate,” tournament director Maxim Rochester said.

This was followed by pledges totalling just over $1 million.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Portland Eastern Ann-Marie Vaz noted that the contribution is a “fitting one” for the month of October.

October is observed as breast cancer awareness month.

“One of the issues that most Members of Parliament face in the rural areas is our women are afraid of the mammogram and have been afraid, so they never go to get a mammogram,” Vaz pointed out.

“Breast cancer, as we know, with early detection, can be cured and you live a healthy life,” she added.

Vaz, in the same breath, shared that it was her husband Daryl, Member of Parliament for Portland Western, who encouraged her to get tested.

“My personal story is that about three years ago I went to do my mammogram. My husband is the one who took me to the doctor. So men encourage your women to go and get their mammogram; it’s a partnership.

“I went along because I [thought] I was just going to get a lunch date with my husband. Lo and behold they found a [lump] in my left breast. This is the first time I’m publicly telling my story and my world stopped in that moment because you are faced with this crisis. [It wasn’t] until I got back the diagnosis that I was clear that I started encouraging women to do the mammogram because it saves lives,” Vaz said.

The MP said with the money raised, Portland women will be transported into Kingston to have tests done the Action Ann Foundation.

Portland is currently without a mammogram machine.

“I am so thrilled and my undying gratitude to you all,” she said.

— Everard Owen

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Blue Mountain fun

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Blue Mountain fun

Zipline course added to BM Tours’ range of activities

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 14, 2019

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Operations at Blue Mountain Bicycle Tours (BMTours) in Portland have expanded to include zipline activities, Manager Rohan McLeod has revealed.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer North & East last Wednesday, McLeod described the new addition as “unique and exciting”.

Blue Mountain Bicycle Tours is a sustainable community-based tourism initiative which began in 1991.

“Our zipline is 1,000 feet long and it is the longest continuous zip line in Jamaica. All the others go from one landing to the next but ours is just one straight thing across,” McLeod stated.

He boasted, too, that it is the highest zipline in Jamaica, primarily because of geography and height above ground.

Activities are expected to begin before the next winter tourist season Observer North & East was told.

“It will be our newest attraction to the Blue Mountain. We wanted to add a difference because we have been doing the bicycle tours for [almost] 30 years and so we decided to add zipline to our repertoire to make things more exciting. We’re also looking at, for the future, a rock climbing wall to make it one big, fun thing in the Blue Mountains,” he shared.

While locally, the business enjoys “tremendous” support, McLeod noted that the company’s clientele is mostly made up of tourists from the United States, with a few coming in from Europe and Canada.

“Based on the feedback we’ve been getting I think our zipline business is going to go very, very far. It’s going to be huge. Every week we’ve been getting calls from locals and persons from overseas, even on our Facebook page, persons contacting us asking how soon because they are eager to come. Persons are really geared up and ready to go,” McLeod stressed.

The custom-designed zipline, surrounded by unspoilt mountain environment, is in keeping with the company’s eco-awareness.

Each course offers panoramic views of mist-covered peaks and pristine, emerald valleys, the manager promised.

While not disclosing the figure for the heavy expansion, McLeod noted that it was a “tidy sum”.

That includes the cost to train team members, as well as acquiring international certification.

“Myself and the rest of the team have been suitably trained. We went through 16 weeks of training under the guidance of a team from Costa Rica and got our international certification. The safety gear that we use is very expensive, with one single set costing almost US$1,000. One of those safety gears can hold weight of up to 600 pounds.

“We also do tandem ziplining, where if someone comes and they are a little bit nervous one of our certified guides will be able to take the person across,” said McLeod.

The end of the course is topped off with a trek to a waterfall within close proximity.

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