Thu | Nov 30, 2023

Fraser-Pryce, Orane get AFJ humanitarian awards

Published:Monday | March 13, 2023 | 1:23 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
The American Friends of Jamaica 2023 International Humanitarian awardees Douglas Orane, former chairman of GraceKennedy Ltd, and sprint sensation Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce take it to the dance floor during the awards ceremony in Miami, Florida, on Saturday.
Former chairman and CEO of GraceKennedy Ltd, Douglas Orane (second left) is being presented the 2023 International Humanitarian Award (from left) Wendy Hart, president of The American Friends of Jamaica; former US Ambassador to Jamaica Sue Cobb; and Caron Chung, executive director, the American Friends of Jamaica.


Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Douglas Orane were recognised by the American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) with International Humanitarian awards on the weekend.

Fraser-Pryce, who has been blazing a trail in her stellar athletic career on the international stage, and Orane, a businessman and philanthropist with a successful career in the corporate world, were the toasts of the Jamaica Charity Gala at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami, Florida, on Saturday night.

The two join past recipients such as Usain Bolt, who was honoured in 2011; track and field star Yohan Blake; late scholar and cultural icon Professor Rex Nettleford; and Dr Kingsley Chin, orthopaedic surgeon and founder of the Spine Institute.

Fraser-Pryce created the Pocket Rocket Foundation, which supports Jamaicans who face barriers to achieving their true potential. The foundation provides scholarships, mentorship programmes, and entrepreneurial training aimed at helping youths build the skills and knowledge needed to succeed throughout life.

“Our honorees share a commitment to excellence through work, generosity of spirit, and a deep passion for Jamaica. We are proud to be celebrating them,” AFJ President Wendy Hart said during the ceremony, which was attended by a number of former US ambassadors to Jamaica.

Current deputy chief of missions at the US Embassy in Kingston, Amy Tachco, was also in attendance.

In fact, the InterContinental ballroom was packed full of philanthropic-minded people, who Fraser-Pryce referred to as ‘American Families of Jamaica’ in her acceptance speech.

“To know that I am Jamaican and what I am able to bring to the people of Jamaica, especially to young women and men in the community of Waterhouse, it is truly an honour to be able to be celebrated in this way,” she told the gathering.

Fraser-Pryce said she started the Pocket Rocket Foundation because she wanted to transform lives.

“The funny thing about it is we don’t choose where we are born, we don’t choose who we are born to, but the greatest choice that was ever made was me attending the Wolmer’s High School for Girls,” said the proud Wolmerian.

She credits the educational institution for making her who she is today. The school’s motto speaks to ‘Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability’.

Fraser-Pryce paid tribute to the women in Jamaica, who she described as diamonds, particularly, those who found time to pour themselves into her.

The AFJ has, over the years, elevated Jamaica through various partnerships with game-changers, providing well-needed support in education, healthcare, and economic development, which include programmes such as COVID-19 relief, a maternal health ultrasound initiative, and other disaster relief responses. The organisation’s annual discretionary grant cycle funds an active grant application request process.

All proceeds from the 2023 Jamaica Charity Gala will go towards supporting programmes that advance the mission of the AFJ, says Executive Director Caron Chung.

Orane, who is also a Wolmerian, said he was overwhelmed and humbled by the number of people who had flown from all over the world to share in the occasion, but also importantly, those who live in the United States of America, and love Jamaica as well.

“There is nothing more than making Jamaica nice, and keeping Jamaica nice,” he said in his acceptance speech.

Orane said that he has devoted his life to the younger generation, in helping to make the world a better place.

JetBlue, one of the main sponsors of the event, showed up again this year, with crewmember and vice chair of the JetBlue African Diaspora Experience (JADE), Jahvon Tuitt, stating that the airline believes in supporting communities in which it operates.

“Jamaica is a crucial market for us in terms of the customers, who give us the privilege to transport them to and from, safely from their native island,” said Tuitt, adding that they have been involved in a number of sporting initiatives that build communities, something that is in the ethos and character of JetBlue.

Last year, JADE supported the Marcus Garvey Technical High School in a big way and plans to return in May this year to cement that project.