Wed | Dec 13, 2017

Floyd Morris | Portia - defender of the disabled

Published:Monday | July 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM

It is very difficult to find a leader in the world who, in every public speech, consistently mentions the poor and most vulnerable.

We are privileged in Parliament to have had one such person.

Since her entrance in this august institution in 1976, in every speech that she has given, Portia Simpson Miller has mentioned the poor and most vulnerable. I have been a proud beneficiary of that dedicated advocacy.

The global mantra of persons with disabilities is "nothing about us, without us". The modus operandi of Mrs Simpson Miller fits squarely within this maxim.

In the 1990s, she mandated the community of persons with disabilities to draft a national policy to guide how persons with disabilities are treated in the society.

In 2000, this policy was tabled and approved in this Parliament.

In 2007, under her leadership as prime minister and after extensive consultations with the community of persons with disabilities, Jamaica signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In 2013, under her leadership as prime minister, history was created in this Parliament when the first blind person in the country was promoted to president of the Senate.

I am proud to have been the one.

In 2014, under her leadership as prime minister, the Disabilities Act was tabled and approved in Parliament. Some will talk about the most vulnerable, but Portia has talked the talk and also acted.

Through her efforts, the disabled boy in Woodside, Central St Mary, has the hope for a better future.

Through her efforts, the deaf child from Restore has a greater hope for the future.

Through your efforts, the blind girl from Bamboo has a brighter future.

 

Changing perception

 

Indeed, Mrs Simpson Miller contributed to the changing perception of persons with disabilities and what Professor Rex Nettleford regarded as the 'smaddification' of the disabled.

This is why I can stand in as Senator Dr Floyd Morris.

Our Creator is pleased with the efforts of Mrs Simpson Miller, and Matthew 25: 34-40 summarises the pleasure:

34 "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me".

Portia Simpson Miller, you have done what the Lord hath required of thee, to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with thy God.

Indeed, when noted Swedish hymn writer Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg penned, "Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here.

Trusting in my father's wise bestowment, I have no cause for worry or for fear", you were on her mind.

Your best years are ahead of you and you have no cause to worry or fear.

Because, as that great hymn writer Horatio Spafford said: "It is well with your soul."

God bless you!

- Floyd Morris is an opposition senator. Emaik feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.