Vision & Volunteerism

Topics: Jamaica, History of Jamaica, Culture of Jamaica Pages: 53 (21415 words) Published: February 22, 2013
For this tenth Grace, Kennedy Foundation Lecture, following a digression in 1997 when the spotlight focused on political issues, with 'Westminster Style Democracy - The Jamaican Experience', we return to a discussion of a significant social subject: 'Vision and Volunteerism: Reviving Volunteerism in Jamaica'. The Lecturer, distinguished anthropologist Dr. Don Robotham, begins by portraying the context of current social conditions in Jamaica: an escalating crime rate, in-discipline, deteriorating services, the skewedness of income distribution, the polarized divisiveness of the society. In his definition of 'volunteerism' he emphasizes the critical importance of the moral element and that the term applies not only to individuals but also to 'NFPOS', that is, not for profit organizations. While agreeing that the spirit of volunteerism has declined, he does not consider its condition terminal. Outlining four periods of Jamaican history when this spirit was at its height, he emphasizes the powerful cultural traditions bequeathed to Jamaica's culture by Africa. In making a case for a programme for 'manufacturing' volunteerism, Dr. Robotham calls for the development of voluntary community organizations and for a real public-private sector partnership; but it is imperative that these arrangements should be founded on a non-partisan, non-ideological basis. The successful Change from Within project (which was supported by this Foundation) could serve as a launching pad for a formal system of volunteerism based in the schools; or it would, perhaps, be more feasible to begin at the tertiary level.

What is needed is a powerful unifying vision of a stable and prosperous Jamaica, guided by leadership which is all-inclusive and projects a new focus on issues which unite rather than those which divide us. Professor the Hon. Gladstone E. Mills, O.J., C.D. Chairman Grace, Kennedy Foundation

DR. DON ROBOTHAM The Grace, Kennedy Foundation is working through a list of subjects identified at the initiation of the lecture series in 1989 as relevant and deserving of serious study. The extent to which we have remained with that original list is a tribute to the visionaries who set the series going: and the library of valuable works generated over the intervening years is testimony to the excellent service rendered by our Lecturers year after year. The erudition and insights demonstrated by those Lecturers have contributed much to our nation's intellectual capital. The Lecture Committee would like to claim some credit but, in honesty, they must restrict that claim to sound choice of subject matter and inspired choice of Lecturers. For this year's lecture, however, the Committee has selected a subject which was not on the original list but which is in response to a disturbing trend observed in modern Jamaican civic and communal life - namely the withering of the true spirit of volunteerism in this country. To explore and contextualize this important subject, we have invited someone supremely qualified to lead our thinking – Dr. Donald Keith Robotham, Pro-vice Chancellor and Dean of the

School for Graduate Studies and Research at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Dr. Robotham is a graduate of the University of the West Indies in Sociology and of the University of Chicago where he gained his Ph.D. in Anthropology. Since then he has lectured in many institutions on the continents of Europe, Africa and America. He has led teams doing extensive research in many aspects of Jamaican social life. More recently, Dr. Robotham has been consultant to the Canadian International Development Agency, USAID, and the Government of Jamaica. He is also frequently consulted by governments overseas on social and economic issues, as well as being a lecturer in great demand in different parts of the world and a contributor to numerous academic publications around the world. Among his many publications, this interesting title caught my eye:...
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