Today we are here to officially celebrate the achievements of 14 of our nation’s sons and daughters from the County of Surrey, who, despite their varying backgrounds and circumstances, demonstrated that they have the qualities that make them deserving of recommendation for The Governor-General’s Achievement Award (GGAA). We honour individuals who believe in themselves and who believe in others.
The Awards Programme identifies and recognizes individuals across Jamaica who spend their time improving themselves and have significantly impacted their communities.
These 14 awardees have dedicated their lives to becoming worthwhile, productive individuals, not only for self actualization, but for service to their community. It is very important, especially at this time, when there are increasing difficulties in carrying out community work because of the economic challenges and apathy toward volunteerism that we publicly honour those committed persons who genuinely care and they do something about it.
A central theme in the lives of many of the recipients is their determination, despite disadvantageous circumstances, to believe in themselves and achieve their goals, and also to push toward assisting others. Although many faced daunting prospects, they persevered, and in faith, stretched forth with all their might, to embrace the opportunities which were presented. These Jamaicans are from all walks of life:
- Shop keepers,
- Social workers,
- Teachers and ,
- Students, who have demonstrated the adage ‘Ad astra per apera’ – Through difficulties come excellence.
At my Inauguration on February 26, 2009, I branded an era of ‘I Believe’ and affirmed the position that “there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.” I have travelled extensively across Jamaica during the past 19 months, and remain convinced that, “we are a nation blessed with a rich heritage, abundant resources, and the prospect for a bright future.”
My conviction stems also from the fact that during those nineteen months, I have had the honour and privilege to be the Patron of The Governor-General’s Achievement Awards Programme, thereby interacting with many persons who have overcome obstacles and challenges in the fulfillment of their goals and dreams.
In many instances these are individuals who have tried valiantly to free themselves from the shackles of disappointment, despair, and misfortune and have brought others along with them. Through service clubs, community organizations and individual acts of philanthropy, sometimes at their own expense, they remained resolute in service.
In the parish of St. Ann, for instance, there is a young man, a recipient of the GGAA, who was the first person from his community to attend university. Today he is back home mentoring the youth and helping them prepare for CXC and CAPE examinations. Through him others can believe in themselves and embrace the possibility of a brighter future, including a college education. Another recipient, a lady in St. James, is currently involved in the care of persons living with HIV/AIDS. These recipients are individuals who change lives and make a difference.
The award you will receive today is an acknowledgement and recognition of your service to your community and country at this point in your life. You have reached beyond the narrow confines of yourself, your home and workplace and have tried to meet human needs, and in so doing demonstrate how Jamaica is being built – one community and one life at a time.
There is nothing wrong in spending your whole life mending broken people, because this is the highest service that you can give to your God and country. You can increase the value of this Award by using it as a stepping stone to continued improvement in your life. The future is in your hands, seize the moment and make it what you will.
I applaud your achievements and encourage you to continue embodying the I Believe message, and share it with others. Through you, may dreams be born in the hearts and minds of many Jamaican as to what they can achieve if they believe. “Do not be weary in well doing for in time you will reap your reward if you faint not. Do not give up”