The Jamaica Governor-General’s Diaspora Achievement Awards honored four nationals living in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States for their excellence in academia and service, at an Awards and Pinning ceremony as part of the June 17-20 8th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, Jamaica. The ceremony was held on June 17.
The honorees are Paul Albert Barnett, a financial professional. As a way of giving back to his community, Barnett focuses his contribution on education, youth and leadership development. Since 1993, he has aligned himself with several organizations, which assist minority young people to obtain academic scholarships, hone their professional skills, and excel at sports.
For six years, he served as the chairman for the Emerging Global Leaders Program (EGLP) and in 2014 established EGLP clubs in various high schools across Jamaica. He was honored in the Over 35 Category.
Cherie Lavana Johnson was born in England to Jamaican parents, and after her mother was imprisoned for drug trafficking when she was 13 years old, abandoned high school and also became a drug dealer. Two years later she moved to a different community and changed her life.
At age 17, she applied for custody of her brother so he could not have to live in the state care. Determined to make up for the gap in her education, she completed three undergraduate degrees and two master’s degrees by the age of 34.
She went on to form the Shared Intense Support (SIS) organization in 2012. She has worked with the police, youth social services organizations to provide mentoring and advocacy, consults with families involved in criminal gang lifestyle, and trains staff to deliver effective services to at-risk young people. She was honored in the Under 35 Category.
Erma Eliza Lewis has given back to Jamaica through her organization, Erma’s Jamaica Hospital Appeal Fund. Seeking to fulfill her life’s mission in striving to improve people’s lives, Lewis has selflessly improved the lives of hundreds through this and her other projects.
In addition to supporting the Portland Healthcare facilities, Lewis also sponsors the Mayor’s Annual Christmas Treat and for the past eight years, has assisted the Missionaries of the Poor with cash and other humanitarian supplies.
Lewis was honored in the Over 35 Category.
Also honored was Wayne Curtis Golding, Sr. who has always by his philosophy that excellence is an unwavering commitment to do your best until all circumstances.”
The practicing attorney at the Florida State Courts for more than 17 years, has provided extensive pro-bono legal work for the Jamaica Consulate in Miami, the Jamaica Embassy in Washington DC, the Jamaica Embassy in Washington, and others as a way of giving back to his homeland.
He has litigated in several high-profile cases involving Jamaica, and is one of the founding members and contributors to the Jamaica Diaspora Crime Intervention and Prevention Task Force, and the Jamaica Immigration and Deportation Task Force.
Golding was awarded in the Over 35 Category.
Congratulating the award recipients Governor-General, Sir Patrick Allen, welcomed the members of the diaspora, stating that he was humbled and grateful for the tremendous opportunity to bring the awards to fruition.
Founded in 1991 to recognize the work in building communities, Allen, said, “I am committed to continuing the legacy through the I Believe Initiative, the service oriented pillar, which seeks to empower people to achieve their goal of being successful in life, and in return help others to achieve their goal.”
During the ceremony, attended by Lady Allen, the First Vice President of Cost Rica, Epsi Campbell, and Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the diplomatic corps, and hundreds of Jamaicans, the governor-general said he was committed to the legacy of the awards, and hoped that the closeness and common purpose that began by his predecessor, Governor-General, The Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke, would continue for a long, long, time.
The program got off to a national start under the leadership of the custodians in the various parishes where committees were formed to promote, distribute, receive and assess nominations from the public with financial and other support from the Building Societies, The Gleaner Company Limited, custodians, representatives from the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, as well as persons from legal, business, community and religious organizations.