- Hundreds of Jamaicans have been recognised for their contribution to nation building, through volunteerism and community service, under the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence (GGPE).
- More than 600 Jamaicans have been recipients of the GGAA, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
- Recipients of the GGAA are nominated by members of the public.
Hundreds of Jamaicans have been recognised for their contribution to nation building, through volunteerism and community service, under the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence (GGPE).
The GGPE was formed in 2014 to give cohesiveness to two programmes affiliated with the office of the Governor-General – the Governor-General’s Achievement Awards (GGAA) and the ‘I Believe Initiative’ (IBI).
The GGAA was conceptualised in 1991 by the late former Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke to recognise Jamaicans 35 years and older who, despite difficult and challenging socio-economic circumstances, have been making substantial contribution to his or her community, but are not recipients of National Honours and Awards.
In 2006, former Governor-General, His Excellency, Professor Sir Kenneth Hall, expanded the GGAA to include a youth arm for persons 18 to 35 years, to recognise academic excellence and service. It also recognises Jamaicans living in the diaspora who are making a significant contribution to Jamaica and their host country.
Recipients from the diaspora are recognised during the biennial Diaspora Conference in Jamaica.
More than 600 Jamaicans have been recipients of the GGAA, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Meanwhile, the ‘I Believe Initiative’, which is the service-oriented arm of the GGPE, was launched by the present Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon Sir Patrick Allen, in 2011.
National Coordinator of the GGPE, Major (Ret’d) Effiom Whyte, says that Sir Patrick, during his acceptance speech when he was installed as Governor-General in 2009, coined the phrase “Nothing is wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica”.
Arising out of that statement, the ‘I Believe Initiative’ was born to motivate Jamaicans to develop a sense of national pride and to believe in their God-given potential and to contribute to building a prosperous and peaceful nation, Major Whyte tells JIS News.
He explains that the initiative operates under three pillars – youth, education and family.
In his 25th anniversary message for the GGAA, the Governor-General notes that the theme for this year’s celebration, ‘Inspiring Individuals, Building Stronger Communities’, aptly expresses the GGAA’s and the IBI’s commitment to motivate Jamaicans here and abroad to believe in their ability to make invaluable contributions that can enhance the local, national and global communities.
“Lady Allen and I are pleased to have inherited this legacy of our predecessors which we have been vigorously preserving over the last seven years. Indeed, the GGAA and the IBI remain effective avenues through which individuals are inspired to epitomise a duty of care, leading to the fulfilment of our civic responsibility,” the Governor-General says.
Jermaine Williams, one of the recipients in 2012 from the County of Cornwall, tells JIS News that he was humbled to be recognised by the GGAA.
“I have been involved in community service and volunteerism from I was a student at Frome Technical High School. I am humbled to be a recipient of such a prestigious award,” Mr. Williams says.
A teacher at the Mannings School in Westmoreland, Mr. Williams believes that “all of us have a purpose on earth, so whatever an individual chooses to do they should always give of their best”.
Another recipient of the GGAA from the same County, Cosmond Jackson, has always been known for his very sympathetic nature, offering help to less fortunate persons.
“I help students who do not have the means to attend school. I assist them with lunch money and tuition. I also sponsor a basic school in an inner-city community. It is a good thing to assist persons who are less fortunate but are ambitious. It is very rewarding to watch those you have helped progress, but it should never be that you do it to be rewarded,” he tells JIS News.
Mr. Jackson says the GGAA is a very good thing, as it “recognises persons like myself who were never thinking of an award.”
Recipients of the GGAA are nominated by members of the public. The nomination is reviewed and selection done by the Parish Custodes and Parish Committees.
Major Whyte tells JIS News that to become an IBI ambassador is a personal desire.
“Individuals between 15 and 35 years who are desirous of serving in the mission of the IBI must demonstrate that they are engaged in community service, volunteerism and provide mentorship to restore hope, belief and sound values in Jamaica’s families, youth and education.”