Thank you for that introduction Mr Casserly and Simon it’s not too late to share the platform you wished to share with me but I think that the platform you’re on now is still a very good platform. The Kiwanis Club, the Kiwanis organization is an organization that I wanted to join but just was never invited.
Your most distinguished Former Governor but I believe you still take the title as Governor Godfrey, oh Master of Ceremony
Distinguished President Simon Casserly and
Members of the Kiwanis Eastern Canada and the Caribbean District
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Member of Parliament
Bishop the Honourable Conrad Pitkin, Custos Rotolorum of St James
Your Worship Councillor Homer Davis, Mayor of the great city of Montego Bay
And Mayor Councillor Leon Williams of the upcoming city soon to be hopefully Leon Thomas
Dr Carey Wallace, Executive Officer of the Tourism Enhancement Fund and other sponsors and other heads of agencies who are here in attendance
Members of the private sector
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
Members of the media
It is indeed a pleasure for me to be here with you. I know that this is the fifth time Jamaica is hosting the Kiwanis Eastern Canada and Caribbean District Convention, so welcome back to Jamaica. I know you will love the vibes, share the spirit and live the experience while here.
There is no denying the indelible mark made across the globe by Kiwanis International since your founding in 1915; more than a century ago. Since Kiwanis was first established in Jamaica in 1964, your commitment to service continues to positively shape our development landscape. The nation deeply appreciates and values the role the Kiwanis is playing in human development and human capital development specifically.
In the words of Nelson Mandela, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived, it is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Kiwanis continues to make a significant difference by improving the world, one child and one community at a time. Human and social development is premised on the value that each individual should be given the opportunity to develop to his or her full potential. Expanding opportunities for human development in particular human capital development is not the exclusive domain of the government neither is it always possible to pursue social and human development through market-based solutions or private sector solutions. The third sector, like the Kiwanis movement actually contributes significantly to human capital and social development. When you stop to consider the leadership training that you do from as early as primary school with your Builders Club through to high school, the Key Club, and if I may pause a minute to reflect in the high school that I attended Key Club, was a big thing and I hovered around a few of the meetings; that’s where all the bright people went, that’s where all the girls were. It was an incredible training ground and then of course up to the tertiary level you have the Circle K.
If you consider it and if you try to put a value on that, it would be very difficult to quantify. The probably by now millions of people that would have been touched by your District. If you were to consider all the training that has gone on in all the members of the district, it’s significant. If you were to consider all the work that you do in terms of your voluntary service. Certainly, as a member of parliament I would have seen in my constituency basic schools/ infant schools being repaired, the number of health fairs that have been conducted, the number of students that have been assisted with scholarships; that is significant in giving opportunities to our people for social development and human capital development.
This does not get reflected in our gross domestic product. It’s not accounted for as part of the economic activity of the country but the best way to reflect on this value is to say what if we did not have it, what if there were no Kiwanis movement, then you would begin to see the profound effect that the work that you do has on the development of your respective countries.
My message to you today is that your role as the third sector in the development of the society is absolutely important. Government must work in partnership with the voluntary sector.
Voluntarism is an important part of national development and not because it is a philanthropic endeavour, not because it is voluntary it doesn’t mean that it is free. What it means is that someone chooses to absorb the cost so that those who are more needy can benefit. It is the ultimate expression of selflessness but it is not a benefit-less exercise because the person who is volunteering, the person who is giving up their time, raising the funds, spending time with the children, doing the mentoring; they too get some satisfaction, some human fulfilment. You are also being made a better person, so it is a win-win exercise, it is a fair trade.
Government therefore should encourage the partnerships and I’ve decided to accept the invitation to address you specifically to deliver this message that the government wants to partner with all third sector players specifically with the Kiwanis Club in leveraging the incredible talent and skills and resources and the voluntary energy that you have to make Jamaica a better place and indeed for all the other member countries of the District. I think that a strong partnership between the government, the private sector and the third sector is what is needed right across the region to improve the quality of life of our citizens.
This year’s convention provides another opportunity to forge the necessary partnerships for us to work towards creating pathways for success, for our most important resource; our people.
God bless and god bless Jamaica land we love.