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JAMAICA: National Honour for Distinguished Clergyman – Pastor Aston Barnes

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#Kingston, October 22, 2018 – Jamaica – ‘A man of many trades and master of them all’ aptly characterizes Pastor Aston Archibald Barnes, who has given invaluable service and countless support to the West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and communities in south Manchester.

He has worn many hats, serving as pastor; financial controller and advisor; auditor; community activist; author; philanthropist; teacher; and businessman and, in the process, has transformed many lives and revolutionized the operations in the entities and sectors he has been a part of over the years.

In recognition of his sterling contributions to the clergy, social development, welfare and philanthropy, Pastor Barnes was duly conferred with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer (OD) at the annual ceremony of investiture and presentation of National Honours and Awards at King’s House on National Heroes Day, Monday, October 15.

Pastor Barnes tells JIS News that he was surprised when informed of his selection for the prestigious award.

“I was not expecting it, as I did not do these things for recognition and praises. I just decided to work hard and never try to push myself to get anything [in return],” he humbly states.

Pastor Barnes has served the Seventh-day Adventist [SDA] Church and West Indies Union Conference in various capacities over the past 65 years.

Between the 1950s and 1970s, he worked at West Indies College [WIC, now Northern Caribbean University {NCU}] in Manchester as a Mathematics teacher and Chairman of the Business Administration Department.

During the period, he twice took time off to study Business Administration at WIC, and Howard University in the United States of America.

“My first job was to teach Mathematics at West Indies College and on my return from Howard University, I became Chairman of the Business Administration Department, and with this position, I also taught Business Law, Economics and Accounting,” Pastor Barnes informs.

In 1970, he demitted his posts at the College to take up duties as auditor for the West Indies Union, which incorporated Jamaica, the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

Pastor Brown was also responsible for auditing West Indies College, Andrews Memorial Hospital, the west, east, and central Jamaica SDA conferences, as well as the conferences and missions for the aforementioned islands.

With these mammoth tasks and countless responsibilities, it became challenging for him to balance work and family life as, invariably, it meant spending time away from loved ones to fulfil work obligations across Jamaica and the region.

A major development for Pastor Barnes, of which he proudly speaks, came in 1989. After 15 years of negotiating and pursuing approval, he was able to implement and manage his brainchild – the West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Capital Development Fund.

This Fund remains as a beacon in the Union, providing financing for capital expansion and improvements at low interest rates for its churches, medical and educational institutions.

In his ongoing bid to offer financial advice and support to the Union’s affiliates, Pastor Barnes was inspired to author the book – “Church Financing: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”.

“I started to search every library that I could think about to get information to help me with the awesome responsibility of being the chief financial officer for the WIU, and I could not find any material. So I decided that I should leave a book that would detail all my experiences so that the younger generation will have material to guide them,” the author further explains.

The community activist says he has always had a deep interest in the affairs and development of his childhood district, Campbell’s Castle in Manchester, and has spearheaded several fund raising activities to support the community.

“I even formed a ‘Hundred Club’ and solicited funds from persons and entities across Jamaica, the United States [and] England. I became an international solicitor and my brother also joined in the efforts to get funds to maintain the school in the area,” Pastor Barnes informs.

He further tells JIS News that: “we bought a bus to transport the children from all the remote communities, to get them to and from school safely… and this was all in an effort to develop the community”.

In November 2000, he retired from active service, but established the United Trust Fund Limited and served as its Chief Administrator.

“I formed this money lending company with my brothers by pooling our savings. So I had it registered, audited yearly and we filed the returns. I did this, not to make money, but to assist persons who needed some form of financial backing and support, especially members of the Adventist church,” he explains.

Now 86 years old, Pastor Barnes is still very active, preaching at the various SDA churches in Manchester, and providing support and counsel to several Boards and Associations.

“When you are accustomed to a busy life and you retire, if you do not have something to keep you active, you will die quickly. So I make it my duty to continue to give of service and offer support as much as possible,” he says.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the church and its institutions, Northern Caribbean University bestowed on him an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree at its graduation exercise in August 2000.  Prior to that, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1996.

 

 

By: Kadian Brown

Release: JIS

Photo Caption: Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen (left), presents former chief financial officer of the West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Aston Barnes, with the Order of Distinction – Officer Class (OD), for invaluable contribution to the ministerial fraternity, social development, welfare and philanthropy, at the 2018 National Honours and Awards ceremony held at King’s House on National Heroes Day, Monday, October 15.

 

Photographer: Rudranath Fraser

 

 

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Bahamas News

Statement From Hon. Fred Mitchell, MP Minister of Foreign Affairs On the Passing of Colin Powell

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#TheBahamas, October 18, 2021 – I learned this morning  of the death of Colin Powell, the American general and diplomat. I worked with him as Foreign Minister in my first term, particularly on issues related to Haiti.

Yesterday in the CARICOM meeting, I recalled while discussing Haiti his role in the crisis of that time. I recall his life, times and work as generally thoughtful and considered. He was also an example of Caribbean success in America, one to emulate. He was the son of Jamaican parents. He was an example of success as a Black man in America. I am saddened by his passing.

On behalf of the Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis, the government and people of The Bahamas, and in my own behalf, I extend condolences to the United States of America and his family.

 

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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Bahamas News

CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases

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October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.

The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).

During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit.  The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.

The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.

Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.

More information on the Project can be found at: https://www.carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/Strengthening-Strategic-Intelligence-and-Partnership-Approaches-To-Prevent-and-Control-NCDs-and-Strengthen-Regional-Health-Security-In-The-Caribbean

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Bahamas News

World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  14 October, 2021.  In the Caribbean, the leading causes of blindness are glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy (a complication of diabetes).  According to the Vision Atlas, 6.2 million persons in the Caribbean were reported to have vision loss, with an estimated 260,000 persons reported to be blind in 2020.

Information gathered from eighteen (18) Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) with a population of 44 million, showed that the crude prevalence of blindness was 0.60%, and the prevalence of all vision loss was 13.20%. Many of the persons affected were females at 52%.

Global statistics reveal that for 2020, a total of 596 million persons had distance vision impairment worldwide, of this number 43 million were blind.  Projections for 2050, indicate that an estimated 885 million persons may be affected by distance vision impairment with 61 million expected to experience  blindness.

CARPHA’s vision for the Caribbean is a region where the health and wellness of the people are promoted and protected from disease, injury and disability, thereby enabling human development in keeping with the belief that the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region.

Although there are no projects that directly address vision impairment, CARPHA in collaboration with its public health partners is implementing initiatives to address risk factors such as unhealthy diets, use of harmful substances and poor physical activities. This in turn, will help reduce the risk of disability due to complications associated with poor blood sugar and blood pressure management.

Efforts to improve the standards of care for diabetes through the implementation of the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean, and training of health care workers from the CARPHA Member States will also contribute to the prevention of vision impairment and blindness due to diabetes.

Access to eye care services can reduce visual impairment.  CARPHA urges Member States to strengthen health systems to improve eye health services with emphasis on reaching the vulnerable and those most in need.  Governments should commit to integrating eye care into the universal health care system.

World Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October.  The focus of the day is to bring awareness to blindness and vision impairment as a major public health issue and blindness prevention.

The 2021 commemoration observed on 14th October, seeks to encourage persons to think about the ‘importance of their own eye health.’

Our eyes are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been indoors, in front of our screens, and probably missed our eye test appointments. Now more than ever, we need to protect and prioritize our eyesight. There are simple things you can do for yourself to prevent the development of serious eye issues:

  • Take screen breaks for at least five minutes every hour
  • Spend time outside.  Increased outdoor time can reduce the risk of myopia (near-sightedness)[3]
  • Get an eye test. A complete eye exam can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma before it has an effect on your sight. The earlier an eye condition is identified, the easier it is to treat.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in physical activity. These are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing diseases such as diabetes, all of which can impact eye health.
  • If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked every year

Your sight cannot be taken for granted.  It is time to LOVE YOUR EYES!

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