‘Being a father is by far my favourite cap’ - Dads honoured on International Men’s Day
Audley Malcolm was ushered into fatherhood when he was 19 years old and quickly had to equip himself with the tools necessary for all facets of his child’s upbringing.
Now 65 and a father of nine, he was yesterday honoured for being exemplary in his role as father, mentor, and role model.
He was among 20 men presented with the Outstanding Father Award 2020 at an International Men’s Day forum hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, in collaboration with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
This year’s focus was to celebrate the achievement of men and to raise awareness on men’s health and well-being.
Despite losing a teen son under tragic circumstances and another son in childbirth, he rose from the pain and picked up the pieces to provide support for his remaining children and several others in his downtown Kingston community.
“I pushed my children to get an education and I invested in the community through an incubator programme and, because of that, everybody loves me, and I’m still doing a lot of work with the youths,” Malcolm said.
He continued:“Mi set up shop fi dem, furnish it, and when dem ready, if dem can move on to something bigger, dem move on. I created 10 spaces in one building and collect a little stipend every week.”
Malcolm shared that the building is located at the busiest section of the community, which offers nail-technician, barbering, phone-repair, and food services.
He said that others have taken the idea and replicated it in other communities.
Malcolm spoke highly of his relationship with the late former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, whose wisdom helped to shape his character.
HEART Trust/NTA, now HEART/NSTA Trust, was established in 1982 by Seaga to satisfy the demand for solutions to the persistent problem of underdevelopment in Jamaica.
“Me was one a di first man weh start feed the youth dem inna HEART from down a Garmex to Stony Hill. Mi have a philosophy weh seh, ‘Without charity, you are nothing’, and a that elevate my pickney dem,” the chef said.
His son, Phillip, told The Gleaner that the recognition was long in coming, based on the impact his father has had on the lives of his children and those in the community.
“I had to take the day from work and just be here with him. I feel so proud, because the struggles in the inner city are plenty and he has been able to assist in many regards,” the younger Malcolm explained.
He shares an excellent bond with his father and revealed that the numerous beach trips to St Elizabeth when he was younger are among his fondest childhood memories.
“Every New Year’s Eve, we chill and watch the fireworks. I can always find something to laugh about when I’m around him,” the 28-year-old said.
Another recipient, Joseph Heron, who is a former dean of discipline at Haile Selassie High School and guidance counsellor at Penwood High School, was also recognised for his contribution to mentorship.
“As a guidance counsellor, you do offer mentorship, leadership and role modelling for all your students,” Heron said.
“Being a father is by far my favourite cap that I wear. I don’t put it down, but I may put down other caps,” the father of five said.
He stressed that he could not have been the father he is without the partnership and support of his wife.
“Getting this award is simply a manifestation of the partnerships that I have benefited from. I can’t help but pass on and also practise all I have learnt from my mother, father and grandfather,” Heron said.
He currently serves as country representative for the Caribbean Male Action Network, and safety and security coordinator in the education ministry’s Region One.
To men, he said: “Do your job. Nuh watch nuh face. Muscle up, dust off and pull your weight. In so doing, you simply encourage others to pull their own.”