‘Inspirational’ mentor faces rollover

Licensed electrician Larry Powell has been teaching a small group of younger people in George Town the tricks of the trade for about the last five months.  

Mr. Powell uses the Wesleyan Holiness Church in George Town for teaching space and has volunteered his free time to do so since 30 April.  

Next Tuesday, 11 October, he’s scheduled to leave the Islands, having reached his seven-year term limit. He’s being rolled over.  

“Before I was introduced to Mr. Powell, I was doing drugs, committing petty crimes, hanging with the wrong crowds and unemployed,” said Adam Mark Ebanks, 28, a student at the church programme. “Mr. Powell took me under his wing and motivated me to take classes to improve on my education and helped me get a job. 

“Now, he only has a few days remaining on our Islands and myself and the other students are devastated.”  

There is some hope for the 45-year-old electrician, though he fully expects to be leaving the country next Tuesday for his native Jamaica. Last week, Cayman Islands lawmakers approved changes to the Immigration Law that allow certain foreign workers to be exempted from the country’s seven-year term limit on residence.  

Depending on when the law takes effect, Mr. Powell’s employers may be allowed to apply for an exemption for him to stay an additional two years. However, as of Wednesday, his future was up in the air.  

“I’m not here to bend anybody’s arm; it’s their country, it’s their policy,” he said, during an interview with the Caymanian Compass. “If they don’t want me to help the young people I’ll just go home and pursue my mathematics degree and help myself more.”  

 

Real change 

Mr. Ebanks said the students in Mr. Powell’s electrician class were “stressed out” by the news of his leaving.  

“It’s more than just a school thing,” he said of the programme. “If this man leaves, most of these people [in the class] go back to where they came from.”  

For Mr. Ebanks, that’s Windsor Park, a tough neighbourhood in central George Town.  

“Most of the students will most likely quit the programme and fall back into the tragic lives we lived before,” he said. “More crimes will be committed, more lives lost.”  

Mr. Powell remembers meeting the 28-year-old George Town resident, who told the electrician he wanted to change his ways but couldn’t find any work. Mr. Powell looked around and found temporary labour at a job site on West Bay Road.  

However, Mr. Ebanks didn’t have a hard hat or a pair of work boots.  

“He had no money to purchase those things,” Mr. Powell recollects. “So I went with him down to J. Michael and bought him some boots and I loaned him my hard hat.” 

Mr. Powell said he realises the young man looks to him as more than a teacher.  

“He sees me as a way out of the life he’s living,” he said. Since then, Mr. Powell has been able to find another student in the electrician class a job in the local market.  

Wesleyan church pastor Dennis Delisser agrees that the class isn’t just about learning a trade.  

“You could almost call it a mentorship programme,” Pastor Delisser said. 

 

Getting started 

Pastor Delisser said the idea for the training course started with a conversation between church officials, government social workers and a Royal Cayman Islands Police Service constable on ways to reduce crime problems on Grand Cayman.  

“One of the root causes of crime was lack of employment, lack of education, lack of skills,” Mr. Delisser said. “We decided ‘let’s start a trade school’.  

Mr. Powell said he usually averages about four dedicated attendees, but he said every person whose life can be changed is a help.  

“I wanted to do this a long time ago,” Mr. Powell said. “If all of us as [expatriates] do something like this, these young youths wouldn’t be at Northward.”  

Pastor Delisser said he’s looking, but hasn’t found a replacement teacher for Mr. Powell. “I hope that this is not the end of [the training programme],” he said. 

Larry Powell

Larry Powell, right, speaks to students in his electrician trade class.- Photo: Submitted
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15 COMMENTS

  1. Why can’t someone with power in government or the governor step in and do something about keeping this man here? He’s training Caymanians and keeping young men out of prison.

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  2. If someone drops the guide-on someone else has to pick-up the flag and carry on.. This program seems to be a positive step in helping, but even the great USA has term limits for their most important citizen the president. They somehow effectively change command even in the middle of a war

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  3. Here we go shooting ourselves in the foot again.We’re not very bright sometimes.

    I recall only a short time ago when our exalted leader took matters into his own hands as they relate to the tendering process because it was for the betterment of the country. So oh great one, do someting about this. We have at risk children here who will be the victims of our own doing or in this case not doing. Step in big man and take the initiative to help those who might be future criminals if we dont help them.

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  4. OK?
    Isn’t Weslyan Holiness Churh Mr. Bush the premier’s home church?

    I’d say Mr. Powell fits into the key employee status, we can’t do without people like Mr. Powell whether he’s Caymanian or x-pat.This is a test to see whether our Govenment is just political grand standing or are they really serious about bringing the best people to our country.

    If Mr. Powell is doing all of the above; then I’ll conclude that Mr. Bush should bend over backwards to keep this man in the country as he is contributing greatly to keeping young people away from crime.
    Mr.Bush I expect you will be the first to approve his work permit. Some people are causing division this man is mending broken pieces.

    We need him.

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  5. Now situations like these is where our politics and immigration and work permit policies are tested to see if they are indeed working comprehensively or not. A work permit case of this nature should not even have made the headlines news.A special concession should be made on Mr. Powell’s behalf, not just the rich developers, since he offers more valuable for his gift talent and expertise in the fight against crime in this region.
    If Mr. Powell is the Inspirational Mentor that he is reported to be,which means he falls into the category of key employee status; which means he is making an extraordinary mark on local business or in his case more importantly he is influencing our youth in our society in a positive way. Then there should not be any debate or fear of not having his work permit approved or extended.
    As we are all aware everyone cannot remain in this little island indefinitely, some will be welcomed and some we regret will be bid farewell; but we must be sensible and make rational decisions. We need to set our priorities straight.

    Give this man his work permit.

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  6. I won’t be surprise that in another couple years, they extend the term limit to 14, then 16, then 20… may as well get rid of the whole rollover policy if that’s going to be the case! I would get rid of it and extend the path to residency by 7 years more (from 7 years to 14 years) if you have been living and working in the Cayman Islands. My 2-cent

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  7. The positive volunteer work by Mr. Powell is commendable and much appreciated, and so is any and all altruistic contributions by work permit holders or residents for the purpose of improving Cayman’s communities.

    Although the article details Mr. Powell’s vounteer work and the possible effect losing him due to imminent rollover could have on the youths he has been mentoring, no mention appears to have been made as to whether or not his actual employer (in the electrical field) had considered it appropriate to aply to the Work Permit Board/Immigration for Mr. Powell to be designated a key employee and/or whether or not it had been turned down so he would have to leave.

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  8. Would not a more accurate headline be Mentor’s employer refuses to apply for Key.

    Rollover is almost certainly not the issue in this case… but if you do not buy a lottery ticket you cannot really complain that you never win!

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  9. Good work Mr. Powell. However as one of the few non-gullible Caymanians I have some questions. Why did the mentoring just start the year you are due for rollover? If we allow you to stay long enough to apply for status will we find out you suddenly don’t have any free time to teach/volunteer? Also how many family members will our infrastructure be expected to cope with? People it’s called Beating the system so stop falling for every hard-luck story you hear. We can welcome this gentleman back in a year.

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  10. Catwoman I cannot let your comments go without saying something.

    I have been listening to the constant cry, in such situations as Dart, whats in it for him instead of whats in it for us. Same goes here.

    If the system is geared so that people are rolledover after 7 years and thats that, then close down Immigration and lets let the computers do the work.We would asave a lot of money and still achieve the goal of simply throwing everybody out after 7 years. There has to be some discretion and situations looked at accordingly on their own merit.

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  11. Hello All
    I am Larry Powell, it is nice to see all your comments. Please allow me to inform you about this program. The police sent an officer to Winsor Park in January this year to speak with the youths in order to get a better understanding of what is some of their greatest concern and how the police and church could work together in order to reduce crime. The very morning my pastor and the police officer were having their conversation I was at work and the spirit said to me call pastor and inform him that it is time we start a trade school. I had no knowledge they were having their conversation. My pastor contacted Mrs Zemrie Thompson of the Child and family service and community development department. They provided the names of the students. We had the launch of the school on Cayman 27 the 29th of April and have been having classes since then. I wanted to do this from 2006 but it never got off the ground, Mrs Zemrie contacted me over a year ago asking me to do this very same thing but it never got off the ground either. I spoke to Mr. Bush over a year ago that I want to start a trade school and his reply put things together and see me. We started from nothing we never make money an issue in preventing us from starting and I said if it is even one person I will be willing to teach that person. Surely I would like to continue with the program but if it is not so then so be it. I have come to bond with these students some times you would hear one say (teach boy anything you have me a look something because nothing a guan and the fridge is empty, or another would say not even gas money me have to come to class.) I love to talk maths, these people are a part of the universal set :U: they do no not have any work not very skilled and things are very hard on them. They like you and I need to eat and drink wear clothes and would like to have a nice roof over their head. The question then and now WHAT DO WE WE WITH THEM? Mrs Zemrie said why not train them before they reach north word,Mr. Bush said it takes CI 70,000 /year/person at North Word. Mr. Bush also said that all of us Caymanan and expat, must work together for the betterment of this country. The education minister said that Cayman do not have an employment problem but an unemployable problem.

    My students and I have grown so close the bond is so strong.Shane mother is very happy for the positive chance in her son and is very appreciative of the work we are doing with her son.

    I will be leaving on Tuesday next week, I am very grateful for the opportunity, the further knowledge gained and all I can say is a very big thank you CAYMAN. I was only trying to give back. Cayman 27 has asked for an interview tomorrow.

    I am
    Larry Powell

    Licensed Electrician
    Architectural drafts man
    Plumber
    Professional Locksmith
    email [email protected]
    ph 928 5279
    326 0894

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  12. Larry Powell – good luck Sir. I am confident Cayman will welcome you back – and I hope that you will in future have an employer that considers you worthy of a Key employee application. Please be aware that our laws are intended to encourage persons such as yourself to come here and remain here – but please also ensure that you also describe yourself as having a job that is the same as your permit.

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  13. Cayman in its dismal management require an immigrant from Jamaica to start a trade school for its drug addicted citizens. Starving and in deep despair the Caymanians lament in a passionate plea for their mentor and teacher..

    Give me a break.. Compass this is a new low for you..

    So our wise leader give millions to the church and this is suppose to be the answer to our trade school problem.. Beam me up Scotty !

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  14. This was a good story until i read what and how Mr.Powell spoke about the policy then it is very clear why he is doing what he’s doing. Its all about self. If you have true faith you would not need a story like this in the paper to help your self those boys are just tools to use for now.

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