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TCI: Authentically Thelma! The one who honours is now honouree

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#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos – December 14, 2020 – It was her suggestion and her list which began the tradition of honouring educators like Oseta Jolly and Ianthe Pratt by naming schools in appreciation of them and on Monday the blessing was returned to a 40-year public education icon from Middle Caicos.

Thelma Lightbourne is humbled by the fact that the newly constructed Long Bay primary school carries her name, and that she is still around to see it.

Ribbon cut on December 14, 2020 at the newly constructed Thelma Lightbourne Primary School, located in Long Bay in Providenciales. Mrs. Lightbourne, now 75-years old began teaching in her native Middle Caicos at the age of 15 and remained with the Ministry of Education until her retirement 40-years later.

Native to Bambarra and starting as a teacher at the tender age of 15-years old, Thelma Hamilton-Lightbourne never thought she would follow in her mother’s footsteps, she told me in an interview.  She had dreams of becoming a nurse, but God, she says had other plans. 

Mrs. Lightbourne reflected on how she was hired while on an errand to Grand Turk.  Off-handedly selected because she happed to be in the right place, at the right time. 

Initially she was a substitute teacher and once the teacher she was filling in for decided suddenly to leave for The Bahamas, permanently, it was Education officers and Helena Robinson who thought young Thelma would be the ideal fit.

That fateful trip to Grand Turk to turn in some of her mother’s reports to the Ministry of Education changed her life and was also a time she nearly lost her life.

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The now 75-year old grandmother of seven children recanted a most frightening encounter with the sea and nature. 

She said on the way back to Middle Caicos, after being hired by the Ministry of Education as the new teacher for her island, the boat was shipwrecked. 

Though the captain tried to maneuver around the stormy weather, he could not and under the water went the boat which would commonly make the six hour journey to Grand Turk; the only mode of travel back then. 

Thelma and others were clinging to a floating part of the vessel when they were rescued.  Turks and Caicos lost two people in the tragedy that day.  A teenaged Thelma was traumatized but safe.

Her first job in Education paid £5 per month.

“I would tell my children, when I went to go to Grand Turk with that five pounds (Great Britain Pound, GBP) and bought a pair of shows, very little else would you have left.”

Initially, her students were children of her own community in what was then the lower school until she did what she had never dreamed, moved to Providenciales.  The shift in 1971 was inspired by the love of her life, her late husband, Thomas Lightbourne, a legend in his own right as a businessman and prominent Rotarian.

“Well the love of my life found me because I did not know Provo, so the love of my life found me,” explained Mrs. Lightbourne who now has seven grand-children because of that union in December of 1970.

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To meet with or speak to this devout Baptist is to be tickled and to be awed by her charming, witty and humble demeanor. She is a spunky woman, rich in faith, wisdom, strong values, authenticity and humour!

Even at the school renaming on Monday December 14, 2020, Mrs. Thelma Lightbourne exhibited gratitude, poise and jokes… often, you could hear the audience laughing as she delivered her appreciation remarks.

Thelma began her formal training for teaching while stationed in Middle Caicos between 1960 and 1970; she continued to pursue studies in Antigua and Barbuda, despite being a new mother of two. 

“Now when I went I left two small children at home, Elry was about a year and Dionne was about six months old,” she shared.

Her matriculation and exposure to formal education created increased demand for Thelma Lightbourne’s  successful style of educating and connecting with the island’s children and clearly she was a leader.

The Education Department, who had entrusted her in 1960 with Middle Caicos’ children now wanted her to head the then, Blue Hills Primary school, which she did. 

Mrs. Thelma Lightbourne during her stint as principal of the now, Oseta Jolly Primary School in Blue Hills

There, the nation’s first tuck shop was started and the investment in a copying machine was made, among other commendable strides.  These accomplishments were practical interventions as students were able to purchase affordable meals and have access to copies of essential learning materials.

While she has fond memories of her girl students, Mrs. Lightbourne confesses that the boys, in those days outnumbered the girls. 

She recalled one student in particular, who would not even go outside to play with the children until his work was completed.  That little boy grew to become one of the most prominent local doctors and eventually, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Now living in the community of Blue Hills, right next door to the school, Mrs. Lightbourne taught Rufus Ewing, who ascended to the post of premier in 2012 and his brother Goldray Ewing, who is a current member of the Turks and Caicos cabinet.  She said they were both stand out pupils.

The Department would come calling again, expressing a need for Mrs. Lightbourne to move; the shift would take her down the hill to the high school, which she helped to bring into existence.

Thelma Lightbourne’s knack for connecting sincerely with students was required; it was a time when concern mounted about a stronger sense of identity for Turks and Caicos children.  The Ministry of Education identified her as the one who could soften the blow of any adverse effects tourism and other developments could bring.

New school constructed in co-operation with the European Union through its EDF-11 funding for educational development in Turks and Caicos Islands.

She let go of her beloved primary school and became a transformative force at the high school; taking on the social and moral development of older students as Guidance Counsellor and partnering that with teaching in Social Studies and Religious Knowledge.

Her polite protests lasted decades, but eventually the high school was able to lay hold of the treasure that was Thelma Hamilton Lightbourne.  Her final stint in education would be at the Clement Howell High School, named for the principal she once worked under and from her recollection, brimming with Turks and Caicos hope for outstanding future leaders.

Reluctantly, heartbreakingly Thelma Lightbourne did what all government workers did at the age of 55 at that time; she resigned. 

Since then, this matriarch has travelled the world with her husband who had long pined for the pleasure; survived sickness; was tutor to many of the younger generations who would come to her home for lessons; served her church and God in ways too numerous to outline and now enjoys watching her children as accomplished members of the Turks and Caicos society, building their own families and legacies.  

Although she was not in the executive of the Department of Education, Mrs. Lightbourne fondly remembers being very much a part of the critical decisions for the sector.

On the list of recommendations she had made, that tribute could be paid to the valiance of teachers by renaming schools in their honour.   

Lightbourne made the suggestion and presented a list of educators who were deserving of the honour. Some say her own name should have been included at that time but Thelma Lightbourne disagrees. 

Her faith in a just and loving God told her that someday her day would come and surely it did and at a time when she could see it for herself and share it with her most precious students – her own children and grand-children. When asked the reaction of her family at the news that her name was to crown the country’s newest school; Mrs. Lightbourne said “they are happy and believe I deserve it” she added, “My husband would have said you deserve it.”

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Caribbean News

TCI Premier and Delegation visit NCI in Jamaica

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#Manchester, Jamaica, 14 August 2022 – The Honourable Charles Washington Misick, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and his delegation have arrived at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Central Jamaica.The Premier will give the address at the second commencement ceremony and will be conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Commerce Degree.  The Premier completed high school at West Indies College which is now NCU more than 50 years ago.  Premier Misick and his delegation are on a four day visit to Jamaica.The Office of the Premier and Public Policy will bring commencement live on its Facebook page at 2PM EST.The Premier’s delegation includes: First Lady, Mrs. Delthia Russell-Misick; Hon. Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services; Hon. Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Service; Mr. Wesley Clerveaux, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Service; Ms. Althea Been, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Immigration and Border Services; Mr. Miquel Swann, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Office of the Premier and Public Policy; Mr. Edwin Taylor, Commissioner of Labour; and Mr. Bentley Johnson Aide De Camp.

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Bahamas News

Polio is back; 65 million missed shots in another COVID fall out

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, August 4, 2022 – For the first time in almost a decade a new case of polio was recorded in the United States. The case which ended in paralysis emphasizes the danger the region faces as vaccination levels drop to 30-year lows.

The World Health Organization warned in early July explained that vaccination in the region of the Americas and the rest of world was dropping rapidly because of various spin off effects precipitated by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Over 65 million infants missed out on basic vaccines in the last three years thanks to disruptions in routine healthcare, lockdowns and other circumstances. The effects are already being felt as once eradicated disease like measles and polio are once again emerging.

The Pan American Health Organization announced earlier this year the Americas are now facing another measles outbreak after having been declared free of the disease in 2016.

Dr. Jarvis Barbosa, Assistant director of PAHO said vaccination levels are now as low as they were in 1994 for measles and polio and Brazil has had several outbreaks of measles.

In the case of the United States an unvaccinated young adult developed the disease after contact with another individual vaccinated with a live version of the vaccine.

The breakout polio case in the US sent shockwaves across the country because of the severe nature of the disease. Polio is an extremely dangerous disease with no known cure. It causes paralysis in as many as 1 in 200 infected and that paralysis is permanent.

Normally very few school age children would be at risk in the Americas as the vaccine is required to start school but with the gap in vaccinations many more children are now at risk.

Polio was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, paralyzing and killing hundreds of thousands, especially children. Thankfully vaccinated individuals are not at risk and as such the WHO is advising that the best way to protect against polio is vaccination.

 

Photo Caption:  Child in Benin takes Polio vaccine, UNSDG

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News

New Rules for Turks & Caicos JPs

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, August 5, 2022 – Rules governing Justices of the Peace in the Turks and Caicos are now significantly stricter after the passing of the amendment to the Magistrates Amendment Bill in July 2022.

Despite the fact that Justices of the Peace are allowed the same powers as a magistrate previously the only requirement for their appointment was the discretion of the Governor and that they be under 65-years-old.

That power has now been transferred from the Governor to the Chief Justice.

Justices of the peace have always by law been allowed to receive complaints, sign charges and issue warrants for the apprehension of persons charged with criminal offenses. They can also issue search warrants summons and administer oaths.

Considering the potentially unchecked execution of these powers, the attorney general’s chambers lobbied for a change in the system.

“These are very wide powers and there is no framework for the supervision and regulation of the whole of justices of the peace in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

The amendment rectified this and the Chief Justice now has the power to make binding rules and regulations governing the appointment of JPs, a code of conduct disciplinary action and orientation and periodic training for JPs.

In addition, to maintain separation of powers the governor will be stripped of the power to disallow laws made by resident magistrates. That power now belongs to the Chief Justice.

Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, TCI Attorney General maintained that the amendment was short but necessary.

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