Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Juliet Finds Her Roles Fulfilling

Published:Friday | March 3, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
In this file photo, Juliet Holness, member of parliament for East Rural St Andrew and wife of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, has a special hug for this child during a back-to-school treat in her constituency.

Juliet Holness is at the helm of one the largest constituencies in Jamaica, and as a result, she has had to be strategic in ensuring that she effectively carries out her duties as member of parliament (MP), while not neglecting her role as a mother of two boys and wife of the prime minister of Jamaica.

The first-time MP of the East Rural St Andrew constituency, however, told The Gleaner that she doesn't see her it as a sacrifice, but rather as an avenue from which to do her part in the development of the country.

"Everybody comes to you for

everything," she said laughing. "Some people might think it is a little overwhelming, but what it has taught me is that knowledge is key. A lot of persons, when they want representation, it's really just the need for someone to guide them in the where to go and what to do," she said.

Making reference to a popular story in the Bible where 10 lepers were healed and only one returned to show gratitude, she admitted that there have been challenges, but noted how fulfilling and rewarding it was when her constituents returned to say thanks for her work.

"We have done several projects across the constituency, particularly infrastructure. Some areas that have never had water before ... for 20 years, now have water. Now that I am experiencing persons appreciating the effort, it fills my heart with joy, because many persons have written to say thank you," she declared.

"Many persons really appreciate the help, and so your life, maybe, is far more busy, but it has far more meaning. I will probably never see myself as a member of parliament; I'll probably see it more as an individual serving a community. So for me, it is no different than the persons who work through social groups, NGOs (non-governmental organisations)," she said.

... She used to sit on sidelines and criticise; not anymore

Describing her constituency as a "sufficiently underdeveloped constituency", she said that going forward, her major objectives would be to continue her thrust of improving infrastructure, including the road structure and water, while empowering the youth with educational opportunities.

"I used to be one of those people who would sit on the sidelines and just quarrel and criticise, and then I said to myself that you also need to find a way to help. Being a numbers person, I was in the background looking at the seats and seeing what I could do to help with training and so on, and also helping anyone who needed help in their seats," she said.

"We are taking an approach of one by one (division) and trying to alleviate the problems and being strategic, too. Since we are a farming community in the hills, we want to be able to increase the level of productivity, and the road infrastructure is something that makes it very hard for farmers there, both in terms of getting seeds and fertiliser, livestock to their farms, among other issues. In some areas, you realise that it costs them two times as much to move because of the quality of the roadway."