December 12th: Arrived in Jamaica shortly after 10 am on a quiet Sunday morning. It seems like I was just in Calvin Hibbert's house at a Christmas Party with my board members. The first thing I do is change my phone chip from Sprint to Digicel, something I learned from one of our VP's, Perry Bloomfield. Collin Harvey retrieves me from the airport. We grab a cold one, coconut water that is, in front of what used to be Buccaneer Beach and head for Havendale. I spend the rest of the day settling in, dropping off items slated for delivery, grocery shopping. Spoke in the evening with Board member Alimi Banjoko, who flew in after I did and we make plans to meet tomorrow at KC.
December 13th: Basil Waite picks me up by 7am and we head to the Melbourne Campus. It takes us 30 minutes to get there. It's the same narrow streets I travelled as a teen, with perhaps twenty times more vehicles on the road. Alimi Banjoko is a non-show for our scheduled visit to the Junior Campus. Fried chicken remains part of the breakfast menu. I meet some 6B students, BW insists that a student, one Mr. Williams must write an article for the KC Times, and I meet the youngster sponsored by Ivor Nugent. Made it over to Nurse Bonner's station and confirmed with her my plan to stop funding breakfast, but we'll continue lunch. She and Sonia Watson will expand what they have already started, a nutritious first meal: milo, porridge etc. Told her I could add peanut butter, possibly tuna fish and vitamins. Visited Staff Room next door, saw three teachers I not seen before. I'm surprised to find out that one has been there for over 10 years. The room is bare and poorly lit. They could use better lighting, new chairs, a refrigerator, a microwave or just some attention: a demonstration that we care about their service to our alma mater. BW has to go to work and I'm now rolling with CH. I clean out the funds from one of my VMBS accounts, pay outstanding property taxes, set-up my cell phone and internet and visit my classmate Stanley Hoo.
December 14: BS picks me up by 7:15 am. I check in on the North Street Campus, school year is winding down, no Indian at the gate. Got correct email and phone for the new Chairman. I note the deplorable condition of this Campus, the bareness of the playing field, the broken windows and the peeling exterior paint. Meet Mr. Fisher, head of the English Department who says termites are eating away at all his books. Clearly this a set-up by BW, who just happens to have an August 2010 quote for a KCOB to fumigate. We make the arrangements; boys will clear the shelves etc. and a service call will be made, courtesy of KCOBA. I meet the North Street Nurse, did not know we had one. BW schedules an interview with her for the newsletter. A visit to her station in waiting to the left of Hardie House. Not much needed to complete the work, but conditions have not changed here in several months: open space, rough framing and wiring, with finished concrete walls, a single room should not take four days to complete, need to remove construction debris, add plumbing, light fixtures, toilet and sink, doors, windows and grill. BW has to go to work, he turns me over to CH and we head to Bull Bay. I harbor "Animal Farm" aspirations there.
December 15: Missed the end of school year service scheduled for Kingston Parish Church at 8am. BW and I were having breakfast and catching up on old times. BS and I actually went to primary school together, so we have been sparring with each other a long time. Actually his younger brother, Billmore and I were best friends and classmates at Greenwich. Don't know how long the service lasts but by 10 am the campus is buzzing. Track and field preparations are in full swing. I meet with my local counterpart, Dr. Ray Fraser, to try to find out why we have not delivered on the planned Chemistry Lab improvements we had finalized in early summer. We discuss an entire range of issues, from cricket or the lack there-of, and other outstanding matters. We visit with the Bursar and I become better acquainted with the bureaucracy that is often perceived as undermining our growth and development. My next meeting at 3 pm is with the new Chairman, Stephen Vasciannie. My first impression of him is that he is soft-spoken, smiles easily, elicit opinions, but is self-assured and knows where he wants the school to go but still trying to figure out how he'll be able it get it there. He has solid KC roots. He is younger brother to one of my best friends, Big D, Dennis Duncan, table tennis legend and one who has documented more KC events of the last 30 years than anyone else.
December 16: Today I finally have internet. I go with the name brand, Digicel. It is wireless and service is fair only. I visit four hardware outlets for quotes on the material list to refurbish the Chemistry Lab. No one supplier is able to provide all the materials required. There appears to be a shortage of construction materials, companies are unsure about their inventory, service is extremely slow as the Christmas season has begun much too early. A neighborhood hardware on Waltham Park Road offers the best price, but is clearly not ready for a job this size. He does not have a letterhead, there is no direct dialing into his store and delivery is virtually impossible.
December17: I drop off quotations with the Bursar and start assembling a work crew to address the Chemistry Lab. I am not capable of explaining just how deplorable the conditions here are. Obviously, there is no correlation between our science performance and the facilities the students use. This project should have been complete from August 2010, the latest push-back date. With permission, I plan to start it now with a completion date of January 31, 2011. I am having some clothing issues. Obviously, I did not do the best packing job. However, this new and trimmer version of me can pick up tee shirts and boxers anywhere.
December 18: I am late arriving for Sports Council meeting (football). The major players are already in place, two Chairmen, Vassie and Ray and the Head Coach, Jumpy. Issues close to all our hearts are raised. The meltdown from that 3-0 lead, the 0-6 beat down at the end of the season, the loss of students to competing schools, problems with the Sports Department and the football executives. There are factors at work here that go beyond football. I don't think any issues are resolved. However, our new Board Chairman continues his baptism and the new team continues its bonding. The room is entirely fortis and still buzzing with energy and excitement. I see the Manning Cup in our immediate future, but much planning and sacrifice will be required. It will require a tight partnership between the teachers and the coaching staff. We later tour the Lab, the two Chairmen and I, and we discuss the strategy for going forward. We await the Board's decision.
December 19: Breakfast is crackers, cheese and ginger tea with two or three ripe bananas on the side. It is my first week home and I remain excited. Rising early, motivated and doing what I have wanted to do my entire life, it is great to be home. Today is also laundry day. I have not done that in a while, but I know enough not to mix white with colored clothes. I have also made the adjustment to the cold water, since the idea of purchasing a 30 gallon hot-water tank for $400US is not appealing. Whatever you do, don't leave home without a Magic Jack. BW, CH and I attend the KC Choir Christmas Concert at the UWI Chapel. BW makes the point to drive past JC. Those two letters, JC, seem to come into discussions a lot more than I previously recalled and that's a situation all fortis must be dedicated to changing. And yes BW, their entrance is impressive, but they don't have a choir like ours.
December 20: BW and I have breakfast at a certain Fortis spot, operated by Ray Fraser's wife. We head to North Street. A discussion has begun whether or not I should begin the long delayed Chemistry Lab improvements. The campus is in need of TLC which must include daily maintenance. There is little happening here. No work is occurring on the plant during this holiday season. No doubt there will be a last minute rush when school is about to reopen.
December 21: Arriving on campus with BW at 8 am. No vacation for the track team and its volunteer coaching staff. Boys are running the stairs, some lifting weights; others are already on the field. Today I visit the pavilion. There is a widely circulated plan to improve the workout facilities, including adding new bathrooms, expanding the storage facilities and making that whole area better organized and secure. The price tag seems high. My job is to cut-off all the fat and possibly some lean and reduce that amount by 60%, making the work possible. I meet again with the two Chairs, having earlier met with Mrs. Branche. I plan to work closely with her and to get out of her way as quickly as possible. We walk the lab and decide what areas would be tackled first, possible priorities and the potential for surprises in any rehab of this nature. I am granted the go-ahead to begin work immediately.
December 22: It's 7:45 am and BW, CH and four others are on the job. I am the supervisor, BW is supervising the super and CH has four guys working under him. It is demolition time in the first room and everything must go and should have gone years ago. Photographs cannot capture the deplorable conditions here, poor lighting, dirty walls, broken furniture, windows with missing panes, leaky faucets. Nothing here is conducive to the high performance we have consistently maintained from the chemistry department. Even though I now have the Chairman's permission and my Association has funds already allocated for the Science Lab, gaining access to these funds, perhaps requires its own sub-article. We begin utilizing them by drawing down on my own chapter's initial commitment of US$5,000. There is a GCT exemption available to schools in Jamaica, but the process and the way those in authority may choose to interpret can easily determine the success or failure of any effort to improve the school.
December 23- I have not seen Mrs. B, but when I call her at 7:10 am this morning it is perhaps our 10th conversation in the last few days. Today I go to purchase materials on Hagley Park Road. This is no Home Depot. It is 8:15 am, the holiday season is in full swing but the gate to the hardware is locked and there are vehicles lined up outside. In twenty minutes the gate is opened and what has now become a crowd, rushes in. That was not necessary. A couple of employees are sweeping the floor, others are having breakfast, grabbing scratch pads, putting on aprons. Eventually our order is taken. There is no database to determine inventory, rather they rely on the memory of two young ladies who seem like they never checked out of work yesterday. We are there until 11 am. I am determined that the window and fowl coop wire we removed yesterday must be replaced ASAP by quality windows and grill. I do not anticipate the broken concrete that is everywhere, including in the window sills. We leave KC moments after 9 pm this evening, having succeeded in installing five new windows and securing the facility.
December 24: This morning the school is deserted. However, my deadline for completing this first room is January 3rd so we press ahead with all due haste. The beauty about working with concrete in Jamaica is that it sets up very quickly. Walls, floors, window sills and door jams are patched and by afternoon the first coat of my dream yellow is applied to the walls. We remove the teacher's desk and deliver it to a cabinetmaker for repair and to change the top. I meet with the grill man and dangerously give him a deposit with instructions that I need grills installed by the 27th. We change the exterior door, install additional windows, primed the ceiling. North Street is to have a Nurse's Station. However, the work on this loaned room began three months ago and is still not completed. Efforts to recruit me to take on a second job are not successful but I do make contact with the contractor and plan to meet him here on the 27th. We vacate the premises by 4 pm. BW has invited me to spend Christmas at his home.
December 25: This is my very first Christmas away from family. 1973 was the first one I had spent without my parents and I can still recall how lonely it was despite the presence of my sisters and their families. No similar feelings this time. At Christmas dinner 2009, I had announced to the family that this was my last Christmas with them unless they visited me in JA. My daughter's response was, "daddy, you say that every year." My son's, "you gotta do what you gotta do Daddy." I think my wife was beginning to believe me. I had been visiting JA too frequently, had announced to my board that I would not be seeking re-election and prepped my mother of my intended plans. This is where I wanted to be. I cranked up my AOL music, made my ten or twelve phone calls and awaited BW for what would be an early and lovely Christmas dinner I had no hand in preparing.
December 26: Christmas is a season in JA, not a day. This year is unique. Boxing Day is celebrated on Monday, December27th. Today, Sunday, I munch on Christmas cake, listen to music and am visited by a couple of the not so young old boys our chapter assisted two decades ago.
December 27: My highlight today is a church picnic, cookout or fundraiser in Bull Bay. CH picks me up by 11 am. After a couple celebratory stops we arrive at the church. The menu is chicken, fish or curry goat. Early afternoon there is a rush on the chicken. It is almost finished and there are more guests coming. CH is rushed into action. He must deliver a dozen live chickens from his farm now. Huge containers of bubbling hot water on the wood fires outside anticipate the arrival. Despite having had fish earlier, I must sample this succulent bird that had flapped its wings for that final time some sixty minutes earlier. I arrive home late, the conclusion of my first Boxing Day in many years.
December28: Life is back to normal on the campus. Guys are training under the watchful eyes of OB instructors. Kirk Douglas is coaching. I distract him for a while. I also meet the famous Marlon Nattie, who now runs our basketball program. My crew is surprisingly clear-headed and eager to work by 8 am. I believe everybody is broke and need to make additional dollars now with yet another holiday pending. Today we paint the walls and ceilings on the inside and out. The grill maker and his sidekick, plus the Electrician are the only ones that appear lethargic. The grill maker is late and does not deliver on his promise of last week. Two of the five grills are ready but he seeks more money. Real dollars are being spent today, light fixtures, fans, exterior doors. Not much is accomplished, but I won't spend tomorrow at the hardware. Our two distinguished chairmen pass through and provide encouragement and approval.
December29: This is a serious work day. The work must be aggressively attacked or we will not meet the deadline. Today I bring in two boxes of jelly donuts. Perhaps that early sugar rush will get us off to a fast start. There continues to be a problem with the ceilings. It still does not look right after patching and painting. The mason is confident he can resolve it, so he and the electrician battle for space. Exterior doors are installed throughout, a couple more grills show up and I have a meeting the new Acting Vice Principal, Janice Fairclough. She has a new office, but it's in poor condition and not fit for a lady. She needs paint, but has no painter, two computers, printer, plants for the surrounding area and ceramic tiles for the drinking water sinks. This is a relentless lady who knows what she wants and does not accept no for an answer. BW has offered to get her a painting.
December 30: Opel Branche pops in today. Told me she spent the last few days at the beach. She looks rested and relaxed. The top brass is here again, Chairmen, Principal and VPs. A new room requires new furniture. BW makes a call. A company will show up tomorrow with some options. CH begins work on a new teacher's platform. The room is bright, bright yellow, cool, with three new fans and the painter is busy touching out the mess left by the grillman. We work late into the evening and I provide dinner. The room is done, except for furniture, varnishing and touch-outs.
December 31: BW's contact arrives early complete with 21st century furnishings for our "Lecture Theater". The cost is of course prohibitive and will take six to eight weeks for delivery. Were we to acquire this furniture we would need 24-hour security directly outside the lab and additional security to watch the security. Mr. Burrell and his VPs visit a location on South Camp Road and return with an invoice for new furniture. There is only one problem. Who will pay? Problem solved. Ray shows up. He and I march over there, announce who we are and 36 new desks and chairs arrive within the hour. We will worry about payment later. The "new" teacher's desk is unwrapped. Great work if I may say so myself. We secure the room and head home to watch the ball drop from Times Square.
January 1: I slept through the new year, interrupted only by fire-crackers and barking dogs. Today I fulfill a pledge I made to my mother; I visit her dearest and oldest friend, Mrs. James. At 94 years old she has slowed down a bit, uses a walker just as I did for many years before my hip replacement and speaks much louder than I recall, but her memory is just unimpeded. Having not been extended any invitations to be elsewhere, she and I chat for a couple hours, as I feast on chicken, rice and peas, fruit cake and sorrel.
January 2: This is a day of rest and I get lots of it. Thank God for cable.
January 6: I spent most of the day at the Wharf-the Customs Department. Had this bright idea that I would ship a ton of merchandise for the school's benefit in my name, as unaccompanied luggage and go to the wharf and claim it without much hassle.
January 10: BW is late. It's 7:35 am. We delivered 1,030 school boy ties to the book store. I'm transferred to CH and the long day begins. First, it's the bank where I deposit funds finally paid over to us past due since March, 2010. Head to McKenley's office where he is working on cataloging names and addresses of all old boys. Today I bring him help, Lorenzo Lynch, a future linguist, majoring in French and Spanish at UWI. I divert to Tarrant High School to drop-off some money for a grand-niece. The campus here is clean, security and staff appears vigilant and visible. It is lunch time but the noise is controlled and I am not permitted to walk about on their campus. The Dean of Discipline provides me a seat at the security desk and goes in pursuit of my niece. Perhaps this is what this era calls for, but I'm not sure I would be happy here. Later I make what seems like my daily visit to Budget Hardware and return to my North Street home. Unfortunately, on a project of this nature, limited and controlled rehab and school in session, supervision of the five or six persons working must be constant. I arrive to find everyone sitting around, except the mason, who should have constant work at North Street in the foreseeable future. Arrived home late and have a function to attend for 8 pm. Who do I call? Richardo Loney. He is now two years removed from UWI with a degree in Chemistry, former School's Challenge Star who still trains with the team frequently. He sees that I get there safely and return home at a decent hour.
January 11: Went shopping early at Jalex, a business in receivership. Bought all their computers, security cameras, some office chairs, fax and copier, plus a nice black couch and a table. The need on both campuses is severe. I will solicit opinions but will reserve the right to make the final decision where best to place our new acquisitions. Made two trips CH's pick-up, but will have to go back another day or two. Gave VP JF the first chair and added two chairs to the Chemistry Department. Just had my first meal of the day, 7:05pm, two spring rolls and some chicken soup, Chinese style. Rushing home, I have a KCOBANY board meeting at 9 pm. The phone jack connect was poor, but the meeting spirited. A few decisions were left unresolved, but time is running out so we will exercise best judgment.
January 12: We complete the demolition of the third room in the Chemistry Lab. We remove old water, electric and gas lines from the second room. Opel Branche has sustained the best passes in the school under the most deplorable conditions. Gas was only available in one room, the lighting was poor, cupboards storing chemicals were rotted and exposed, concrete falling from ceilings, exposed steel in the ground, windows exposed to the elements, water shut-off, gas leaks, internet not accessible etc. Well, we are going to change that.
January 13: Delivered four chairs and four computers to Melbourne. They recently hired at new IT Technician so the computer issues should be at a minimum. Made the decision to build the tables in the lab out of concrete, since there is a problem with the local cedar and the imported one is just too expensive. This job was budgeted for $4.1M, trying to get it done for under $2M. Will need OBs support to get sinks, gooseneck faucets, etc. The local mark-up is about 65%.
January 14: In addition to the work on the Chemistry Lab we are now responding to issues all over the North Street Campus. The entire old third form block is without white boards, so I have decided to tackle that concern. The boy's toilets are not flushing and there is no maintenance plan in place. I will try to source some industrial toilets and with approval, replace the very inexpensive ones now in place, plus put in place a maintenance plan. Senior teachers appear energized and are eager for us to partner with them on several and often minor concerns that have not been addressed for years. I donate 10 gallons of paint for the student cleanup planned for tomorrow, plus ceramic tiles to make the three wash tubs on the campus appear more attractive.
January 15: I spent the entire day at the Douglas Forrest Invitational, Stadium East. The brand name schools all appeared to perform well-Calabar, Wolmers and Jamaica College. KC seems to have lagged behind, but was respectable in the field events. My primary motive for attending was to sell our merchandise. However, I was outmaneuvered, outplayed, and outplanned. Another KCOB arrived before I did, he had a position, a larger value of merchandise, some may have been inadequate replicas of our own and he may have been one of the executives running the meet. Clearly, the sale of KC merchandise dominated all other sales. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that the College receives one cent from this marketing arrangement. From the limited market our merchandise is able to reach we are able to fund the Nutrition Program and the Joyce Baxter Math Club. Those who are in charge with protecting the school's interests must remedy this situation immediately. Efforts to resolve it quietly or hopes that it would go away have only produced greater empowerment.
January 16: Spent the day at home recharging my batteries.
January 17: Early start to the day. Met my Wolmerian friend I have known since primary school. He may be able to help me get the materials locally at cost. Delivered computers and chairs to North Street and had a chair repaired that was damaged during transport. We purchase materials to make additional white boards. Had some difficulty cashing a check again at Scotia Bank, but ran into a fortis who saves the day. Today we poured the concrete for two of the three countertops in lab. Broke up a scrimmage and escaped getting into one myself. The grill maker came for his money and refused to give me an invoice, so I refuse to pay him. Eventually there is calm and I am to meet him tomorrow at 9 am. Banjoko dropped in to see me. He has committed to sponsoring five of the 32 sinks that the lab will require. We worked until late evening and did not leave North Street until 9:20 pm.
January 18: The grill maker arrives one hour later than our scheduled appointment. He brings me a make-shift receipt. I pay him and we part without incident. The Ministry of Education is conducting week-long inspections on both campuses, beginning on the 24th. The number of white boards needed is now 20. We have made a total of seven, diverting from the Chemistry Lab Project. However, the school is indecisive about funding the materials required for the remaining boards. Parents and students prepare a garden behind the Douglas Forrest Building. We provide the loom. Our mason is busy fixing steps, walk-ways and buildings. The needs of the school are severe. Unless he uses the football field, Acting Principal, Everton Burrell is never able to communicate to the whole school at once. I have not visited the Chapel, but it would be too small and is among the several maintenance concerns at the school. It is a short day. At 6 pm I head for home with my Chinese chicken soup in tow.
January 19: I am now in full pursuit of a vehicle. All the early promises and deals have fallen through. Wish I could ship home my pick-up. Over the last five years we have logged over 160,000 miles together. My truck knows its way home from NYC better than I do, but Jamaica wants no part of it-it's too old. I identify six trucks, make my requisite phone calls and make arrangements for viewing in the company of a mechanic on Saturday. And no, I cannot afford the BMW SUV a dear friend is urging me to purchase. I would end up sleeping in it, plus it's impractical. Once you move to a truck you can't go back. The concrete tables in the Chemistry Lab are taking longer than expected, but my mason is a perfectionist, we are saving $500,000, so it's all good.
January 20: I'm sorry but Melbourne is the campus for me. I have been at Clovelley Park for over a month and have yet to be offered a bottle of water. At the Junior Campus, I have to keep telling the teachers I don't eat much anymore. Too many lunch offers. Nuff said. Spend over two hours at Budget today purchasing some tiles. I guess eventually I will adjust to the lackluster service, but today it is driving me nuts. Found another sub-contractor to provide an estimate to change the gas lines at the lab. Need this work done asap. I know the minute I left the site the guys stopped working and I am away about three hours today. They at least broke the floor where I plan to run new water and gas lines. We will work late into the evening to compensate.
January 21: Very early start today. It's pay day and my guys are motivated. Still unable to get fair price for purchase of sinks, faucets, etc. locally. Met with gas fitter and did a layout. If we can agree, he'll install on Saturday. Check arrives late, as usual. Have to race to the bank, battle with the traffic going there, the crowd in there and the traffic getting back from there. A Thursday issue would make my life so much easier.
January 22: I am picked up by Damion Radcliff, now a teacher at Campion, he writes, directs and stars in his own productions. Shortly he will leave for London in pursuit of an advanced degree. I met DR when he was in first form. Cissy introduced me to him and his mother. He should be teaching at KC but that's for another day. Believe I found the vehicle for me: a 2004 Toyota Tundra. It is 4 doors with a six foot bed and with 34,000 miles on it. Later in the day my mechanic confirms that the engine is good, much of the front right was replaced and the mileage reading is probably not accurate. He will take it for a spin Monday. I'm getting desperate and need the transportation issue settled before I depart February 2nd. Reached North Street by 11 am, but I am late. A board member and major donor, Noel Spencer, was here and I was not and so I missed an opportunity to get more lab equipment, but I will see him at the Winter Party. The gas lines are laid, the mason dresses up the tables some more, I bolt from the campus in search of a barber. Some fancy music recital and I will need to cleanup my face.
January 23: Home trying to do laundry. No ackee and salt fish this morning, but some Grace ginger mint tea, two pieces of hard dough and some salt laden cheese. My faithful workers are at North Street. They could be finally embracing my work philosophy. Thank God for cable. I see the Jets lose in Pittsburg, Cutler lay down in Chicago and the Jamaica cricket team crumble in Barbados.
January 24: BW has abandoned ship, but CH rises to the occasion. Today is a big day at school. I have my own inspection due for 4 pm by The Board. It's the final day to prepare for the ministry inspection on Tuesday and weeklong review. Folks I have never before seen are actively working on the campus. The school borrowed some of my materials so I am forced to go shopping. Today I get to see Warren McCalla, a fourth year Medical Student studying in Cuba. I have known Warren a long time, like many of the names I keep dropping, I am exceptionally proud of them and the positive impact KCOBA has had on their lives. Today about 40 upper sixth students meet with him as he discusses the benefits of a Cuban education: its free, maturity comes quickly, fluency in Spanish and other languages, introduction to cultures you may have never before thought of and guaranteed employment on your return to Jamaica. A couple students seem interested and ask probing questions. Later at the chemistry lab Noel Spencer pops up. It's always good to see a potential donor, friend and board member. The work crew and I depart at 6 pm leaving the keys to the lab with Ray Fraser. Guess the 4 pm inspection will occur later.
January 25: My first stop today is to place a deposit on my 2004 Tundra. My mechanic had highlighted the low points of the vehicle and the Dealer agreed to correct the most blatant ones. I continue to have issues at Budget Hardware and vow that I will never go back there. Ministry inspectors are on the campus. I am not sure if a bribe was paid or not to the boys, but the decibel level on campus is greatly lowered. I don't see anyone new, but fresh signs are posted all around the school, the ancillary staff is steadily cleaning and the dress code today is modest to conservative. We remain in our humble quarters tiling table countertops and my mason is again loaned out to the school to repair broken concrete. Today I meet the very best performing student at KC. He proudly introduces himself as a four time recipient of our scholarship program who commutes from Linstead daily and plans to become a Medical Doctor. Gentlemen, the work we do is important and it positively impacts lives daily. Tonight I am editing resumes of three UWI soon-to-be-graduates. If the Douglas Forrest Mentoring Program KCOBA (NY) envisions, takes hold, our students will be equipped with this knowledge long before they leave school.
January 26: It is difficult to establish "proof" of address in Jamaica. VMBS is giving me a hard time switching my mailing address to JA. Told them I was living here, gave them two IDs, but they require a letter from a JP. Took the letter from the JP, now they want the name of my employer, etc. Told her I was self-employed. She gives me two forms to complete. I am to list my self-employment income and expenses. Of course I have not made a dollar at self-employment. Project it then. After ninety minutes I took the forms and headed to the only known refuge JA has to offer, Kingston College. I am invited to a special planning meeting for Founder's Day. Ceramic tiles are added to the countertops. There is lots of cutting and dust. However, by 7:15 pm Room #2 is complete, with the exception of sinks, faucets and gas taps.
January 27: Today I took Board Member Merrick Foster's advice and took a day off, at least a part of the day. I now know how to text from blackberry to blackberry. I sent emails and made calls to raise additional funds to complete the lab. At 2 pm I headed off to Melbourne. Total is the 2011 induction ceremony of the Kingston College Interact Club, part of Rotary International. It turns out to be a talent show. Young ladies from Campion, Immaculate, St. Andrew's and St. Hugh's attend in huge numbers. The controversial multi-purpose room is the venue and the NY Chapter is proud to be their primary sponsor. By 5:30 pm I head to North Street for a Trust Fund board meeting. The discussions are heated but controlled. There is a process to gain funding. My goal is to master that process, continue school improvements and by so doing reduce the negative perception that dominates many old boy's view of the Trust Fund. I further believe that three or four changes to the board are necessary, if the Trust is to achieve full potential. As Proverbs 29:18 states, "Where there is no vision the people perish."
January 28: This is my final day at the Chemistry Lab until February 14th when I return to JA. Room #2 is scrubbed and rescrubbed. A dump truck carts away all the remaining scraps and also some old cedar. These are going to my cabinet maker who is making two teacher's desks and walls of cabinets that will safely store much of the chemicals. Friday as usual represents a challenge. The crew must be paid. They have done what I requested all week, but certain promises are not being kept. The guys get their money and we part Company for two weeks.
January 29: I am home all day, out of international minutes, internet not working, and the television is showing only black and white. It is appropriate that outside is dark and rain is pelting. The afternoon is picking up, a couple friends come for a visit and we chat for a couple hours in my ten by twelve room.
January 30: I am awakened early this morning by VP Rainford Bloomfield with news of the death of Roderick Reid. I was first introduced to that name by then Guidance Counselor, Shelia Hoo Sang decades ago. Later at an Old Boy's Dinner in Kingston Roderick introduced himself to me and thanked me for sponsoring him at UWI. It was one of those moments in my life that I will never forget and placed in perspective the significance of one of my lifetime pursuits--that of helping students maximize their potential and removing the lack of finances as a determining factor. It is truly devastating news. The loss of any Fortis is sad, but the sudden loss of someone with whom you share this sort of connection is crushing. Unfortunately, his loss will not be the last as murders are now a major part of the Jamaican landscape.