Sophia Findlay, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Philip Mascoll is a giant of a man. Literally and figuratively, he is the kind of person one just can't overlook in any aspect.
Ever modest, Philip would refute this claim. Although he would prefer to keep a low profile, he has undertaken the task of being an outspoken stalwart on issues concerning Jamaica and its nationals in Canada.
For this main reason, the Government of Jamaica bestowed on him the Order of Distinction, Officer Class (OD) in the Independence Honours list of 2013, which he will collect tomorrow.
This honour, the Jamaica College old boy said, was not expected.
"I'm really surprised. I did not expect the OD, but I'm delighted to be awarded."
He describes the award as "one of the singular honours of my life that is eclipsed only by the birth of my three children and two grandchildren, as major events in my life".
"After all, it's an honour bestowed by my country and my fellow Jamaicans.
"I was judged by a jury of my peers and found capable and deserving. It is a wonderful thing," Mascoll told The Sunday Gleaner, just before he left Toronto, where he resides, for Kingston.
"My work in Jamaica and the Jamaican community in Canada is like breathing. I could not do it more than I could stop taking in oxygen.
"It is my duty to help in any way and by any means possible. Frankly, I would like to see more of my sisters and brother of the diaspora family do the same," the well-accomplished journalist shared.
Mascoll - having worked as an editor, in various capacities, at one of Canada's top national newspaper, The Toronto Star, for 27 years - knows a thing or two about the hard work that goes into orchestrating a mission of any kind to help Jamaica.
"I recognise that I have certain strengths, and I will use those strengths to enrich the Jamaican community and to help lift it upward.
"Communication, management and the mobilisation of people are my strengths. I am an implementer as well as a planner. I translate dreams into reality,"
'Once you go, you know' shouts the Jamaica Tourist Board slogan, and this applies easily to Mascoll's theory.
He is helping, and while he's disappointed sometimes he's optimistic.
"We migrate to other countries and make them great, but never seem to completely use our huge brainpower and ability to make Jamaica the great nation it should be.
"Some of us seem to see 'Yard' as a place where we go and have a good party and walk away to return to our centrally heated houses in other lands. Why, I don't know, but what I do know is that there is a growing number of Jamaicans in the diaspora who are swinging toward my way of thinking."
A 'Diaspora Fund'
For Mascoll, one of his dreams is to see the establishment of a Jamaica Diaspora Fund.
"If every Jamaican gave $10 each month, (less than the cost of two packs of cigarettes or three beers) that would translate into $70 million per month or $840 million per year.
"That would mean that Jamaica could pay off the International Monetary Fund, buy the Jamaica Public Service and run it at a subsidised cost, fix every school and police station and courthouse in Jamaica, fund agricultural resurgence and offer scholarships to any university to thousands of young Jamaicans.
"And that is in the first year after the start of the fund."
Mascoll added: "This would free the tax base to raise the salaries of teachers, police officers, fire-fighters, soldiers and civil servants."
According to Mascoll, in a decade, the Jamaican Diaspora Fund would be able to buy money-producing buildings in Miami, London, Dubai, New York and Toronto.
"The fund would own oil companies in Africa, whose sole customers would be Jamaica and other Caribbean islands in the same power-poor position as we are.
"In 25 years, we would never again have to seek outside investors, although they would be welcome. Every available investment in Jamaica could be Jamaican owned."
Mascoll believes there is a leadership void in any Jamaican community wordwide, and that it is a few persons who carry the burden of organising the diaspora and the community.
For those not committed to assisting to develop Jamaica he has a simple message.
"Do not ever forget where you come from and where your 'navel string' is buried. Give back a little, whether in kind or cash."