Despite the pall of gloom and general despair which have descended on the country by wanton and callous murders, scandals, domestic violence and the growing coarseness in the society, there are still some very encouraging stories of triumph over adversity.
The presentation Saturday of the Stella Gregory Award to St Marian Virginia Woods by the Kingston chapter of Soroptomist International Jamaica for her outstanding achievements in helping and promoting the work of the blind, speaks volumes to the tenacity and will power of a strong Jamaican woman despite her sight challenges.
Ms Woods, who, as is usually the case, is from very humble beginnings, has steered a career path of unswerving dedication to the blind. Not only has she provided effective leadership to the Jamaica Society for the Blind, but she has demonstrated, through her academic achievements, that visual impairment need not be an impediment.
Ms Woods, in addition to lobbying tirelessly for the implementation of policies and legislation to benefit members of the blind community, enrolled and completed a certificate course in management studies before going on to successfully complete a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration.
For far too long we have paid lip service to the needs of the challenged in our society. And as the People’s National Party (PNP) and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) prepare to face off in soon-to-be-called general elections, we notice that not one word has been uttered by our politicians regarding a comprehensive policy for the physically or visually challenged in our society.
This, we suspect, is primarily because championing the needs of the most vulnerable does not win many votes. It is simply not fashionable to stand on a political platform and defend the rights of the blind, the deaf or any of the other challenged groups.
Miss Woods, by her deeds, not her words, has demonstrated that if the political will exists, many of those with impairments can play an active role in the country’s development, if given the chance.
We hope that by the time our political parties present their visions for a better Jamaica under their respective stewardship in their manifestos, they would have found the resolve to put together comprehensive policies for our challenged citizens.
For now, we just have to wait. But the dedication and hard work of persons like Virginia Woods are sure catalysts to spark our politicians from inertia.
We wholeheartedly congratulate Ms Woods and the many others like her who continue to show what can be achieved, despite severe challenges.
From the Jamaica Observer