ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE MOST HONOURABLE SIR PATRICK ALLEN, ON, GCMG, CD AT THE ROTARY CLUB OF LIGUANEA PLAINS EDEN GARDENS, 39 LADY MUSGRAVE ROAD, KINGSTON 10 THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2009

“Turn pain into purpose – Volunteer”

PREAMBLE

I welcome the opportunity to address the Rotary Club of Liguanea Plains and commend you for your tradition of inviting speakers from corporate Jamaica to address your members once per month.  This is a commendable way of building network and establishing new avenues of corporation in your quest to serve.

A service club is best defined by the extent of its mission of service to others, and especially those in need. The Rotary Club of Liguanea Plains has provided health screening services to approximately 1200 Jamaicans through its “Wellness Tour” of 15 inner city communities.   In addition, your adoption of the New Providence Primary School has greatly impacted the school community, and your mentorship and school intervention programmes continue to motivate students and give them a new lease on life.

I am, therefore, pleased to accept the invitation to join your organisation.  Jamaica now needs the services of all its citizens to participate in the work of transforming the nation.  Rotarians and persons who work through service clubs, NGOs and community based organisations are well suited for the task, because of your ‘spirit of volunteerism’, compassion and generosity toward others that you exhibit.  The larger your membership the greater will be the extent of your service and I hope that your club will continue to grow.

 

VOLUNTEERISM

Being a volunteer and serving others are some of the ways in which we “give back” to society, or “brighten the corner where we are.”  We are expected as individuals to bloom wherever we are. There is much pain and suffering in our society, especially among children and the youth. I believe that we have to make it our purpose to try and offer as much relief as we can, so that our living would not be in vain.  Part of the motivation of Rotary is that we pass this way but once.

Story: I was told the story of Henri Dunant, a wealthy 19th Century Swiss Banker, who was sent to Paris by his government to work on a business deal with Emperor Napoleon III. However, when Henri arrived in Paris, he discovered that Napoleon III was off fighting a war. He sought out Napoleon on the battlefield but was so devastated by the suffering which he saw, that he decided to stay at the front for weeks, helping doctors attend to the wounded.

Even after returning home, Henri Dunant was haunted by those Images of war. He could not keep his mind on banking and became so distracted that he lost his fortune. Later he wrote, ‘It seemed to me that I had something to accomplish, a sacred duty that was destined to have infinite consequence for mankind.’

And he was right. Out of his pain came purpose and Henri Dunant founded The Red Cross. For establishing it, he received the first Nobel Peace Prize.

I believe Jamaica needs more Rotarians who, like Henri Dunant, are prepared to stay at the forefront of the battle lines and stay there to help others. In our context the battle is being drawn against the breakdown in family life, crime and violence, indiscipline and neglect…these are the areas in which our country needs our assistance at this time.

In Jamaica there are many opportunities for us to “find the purpose in our pain!” The work to build our society from is never complete and there is always the next effort that needs our attention.  Rotarians are no strangers to volunteerism and hard work and like Henri Dunant, I urge you to remain at the forefront of the battle.  It is a battle to:

§  Restore values of respect, honesty, punctuality, hard work and discipline in our youth and adults.

§  Reinstate the family unit to its pride of place and prominence in the Jamaican society.  The family is the foundation of any society.  If the family is not fixed the society cannot be fixed.

§  Redevelop communities and make them crime free

§  Restore social order and respect for law in all areas of national life.

§  We need to participate in the education process.

In so doing you would have contributed to the creation of a ‘world class’ society and the reward for your noble effort would be a peaceful, prosperous and united Jamaica.

 

CONCLUSION

The nation is at a time and juncture in its development when it is incumbent on all Jamaicans, wherever we are in the system, to make a real commitment to doing something tangible to make Jamaica better.  I believe if every Jamaican makes the commitment to find a way to mend the brokenness we would be better for it.  We especially need to nurture our young people, our future leaders, and seniors alike.  The country needs more volunteers who are ready to get into action now for the sake of the nation.  Rotarians have set a good example for us to follow and I commend you for your outstanding record of service to our nation.

Continue to work hard and at all times be guided by the Master’s words: “as much you have done it for the least of these you have done unto me.”

I thank you and God bless you.