TUCKED far away from the glimmer of bright lights, high-profile events, and major highways is the small district of Swansea in Clarendon, which attracts little attention from the outside world.
Unlike the biblical Nazareth, the question has never been asked whether anything good could come from Swansea.
This may be because over the years, it has been the nurturing ground of many of our citizens who have gone on to become role models and positive contributors to nation building.
One of those persons is Pauline Channer, the recently installed president of the Rotary Club of Mandeville. Becoming the third woman to head the 50-year-old organisation, she was installed as its president on July 6 during an upscale banquet at the Mandeville Hotel.
The first of five children for Norman and Nora Blake, Channer is a graduate of Glenmuir High School and Shortwood Teachers' College. With high ideals and a desire to pass on the moral and ethical teachings instilled in her by her parents and teachers, Channer thought the classroom would be the place to make that happen. After nine years as a teacher of Spanish at the Spalding and Manchester high schools, she made her exit to the insurance world. With a half smile, she told Rural Express it was a difficult decision to leave the classroom as it is one of the best opportunities one has to make a difference in young lives and to chart a course for the nation's future. However, she said, there are times when the ladder is not tall enough to scale the wall of obstacles that confronts one, forcing one to take an alternative route to overcome them.
In January 1987, she bid the classroom goodbye and joined the insurance industry as an agent. After making her mark and moving through the ranks, holding a number of critical positions and receiving numerous awards on the way, this mother of one boy and two girls is currently a unit manager at Sagicor Life Insurance.
Although losing her husband seven years ago, Channer said, "I have not lost faith in my country or people, for that would mean that I lost faith in myself, and I know the majority of Jamaicans are decent, hard-working people."
With the look of a concerned teacher, Channer added, "I must say, I am not comfortable with the level of crime, the decay in moral standards, and the seeming descending ethical standards in our day-to-day activities."
Clinging to the old saying "once a teacher always a teacher", Channer declared, "If I were prime minister for a day, I would immediately move to solidify a sound foundation for early childhood education as well as a good nutritional feeding regime in our schools."
She is convinced that Jamaica imports too many food items and needs to pay more attention to home-grown produce.
Still sporting her charm and beauty of yesteryear, the new Rotary president will be putting aside her love for music, photography, and travel during her one-year reign to focus more on the goals of assisting others and building the Mandeville community. The refurbishing of the Belretiro Early Childhood Institution and the providing of playgrounds and fencing for other schools will be high on her priority list.
While other women around the world are fighting for the right to merely be themselves, women in Jamaica like Pauline Channer continue the fight to have a fair and just society where kindness and care for others become the natural order of the time.