It is for me, as Patron of the Jamaica Society for the Blind, a real pleasure to be with you this morning and to make a few remarks before we open this building.
Firstly, let us thank God and commend the Directors and members of the Society for bringing to fruition a facility which less than four years ago was only an exciting concept.
This Vision and Resource Centre to be officially opened today marks an important step on the road to creating a genuine society of opportunity; a society which is inclusive, responsive to individual needs, and a society which respects the rights and responsibilities of all citizens.
Many of you knew that although it is doable it would be challenging in a society with competing priorities. But you believed in the rightness of the cause and inspired others to support the venture. I thank all those - individuals, members of Foundations, Government and multilateral organizations. They shared your concern and your commitment and who enabled you to complete and equip the building thus making it a functional entity.
I am confident that the persons with low vision and some whose financial resources put them at risk, will receive a welcome boost and see new horizons for themselves as they make full use of these facilities.
As a nation, we must continue to fulfill our obligations to care for others, not only as citizens of Jamaica, but as members of the human race, sharing our God-given gifts, our skills and our resources.
We are told that there are some 285 million people in the world who are affected by sight related conditions, some of which are preventable. In Jamaica that number is close to 100,000. Over the years, we have been taking steps to minimize the negative impact of blindness, and we need to continue to enhance all the initiatives which empower our citizens, young and old, to enable their fullest social, intellectual, productive and cultural development.
I repeat for emphasis: The whole society benefits when we take the practical steps to demonstrate that we care for one another in a meaningful way.
I cannot close without expressing on behalf of Lady Allen and all who attended the Christmas Concert at King’s House in December 2016 how thrilled we all were by the presence and the performance of the ‘National Cultural Group for the Blind’ who participated in the event. The quality of their rendition and their joyful engagement with the audience were an inspiration to us all. Among other things, I believe they served as encouragement to the younger members of the audience to work hard at overcoming challenges and that despite what they are going through they should aim for excellence in whatever they undertake.
I commend the University of the West Indies Medical and Dental Class of 2017 for taking time to recognize that this is a worthwhile project deserving of their support.
Once again congratulations on this achievement and thanks to all who made this Centre a reality. May it be a source both of pleasure and of social and economic value to those who use its resources. In a real sense, the Jamaica Society for the Blind has created another point of light which can guide more of our citizens into a brighter future.
God bless you all and God bless the work of this Vision and Resource Centre.
I thank you.