Yesterday I participated in another of the Governor General’s I Believe Initiative youth conferences. Again, I was a facilitator for a group of about 12 youth. We started the day with another presentation from Juleus Ghunta, who I wrote about the other day. We then discussed employment skills and setting goals. We heard from a young woman who runs a successful furniture manufacturing business. It is a family business called Bartley’s and despite objections from her father, Lacey-Ann succeeded and is now managing director of the business. At the end of the day, Lacey-Ann just found out that she has been nominated as a Branson Ambassador for young entrepreneurs (As in Richard Branson of the Virgin companies). The other presenter also works for her family’s business, which is a career counselling company. Her story was no less inspiring, as she related how her brother was killed by gunfire several years ago. He had two young children and the presenter, Janelle, described how this tragedy refocussed her energy and motivation. The speakers then turned their focus to the youth and asked what their career goals are. One young woman wants to be a guidance counsellor, another a criminal lawyer and a young man a journalist.
After this discussion, the group (including the Governor General, his wife and numerous other politicians) ate lunch and listened to the youth present what they had learned. We were in Clarendon, a town about 45 minutes away. It is an agricultural area and the venue we were at was nestled between two mountains. It was called the Verandah, and true to its name, it was like a massive balcony, so we could look out onto the mountains. At one point, I was quite alarmed to see hundreds of vultures circling around a nearby field. It was an eerie sight as they seem to co-ordinate their flying patters to form a massive tornado-like formation. But then a rain storm came in and shooed them somewhere else.
After the presentations, we were treated to a performance by Bradley Sutherland, a young man who won a gold medal in a nation-wide gospel competition. It was a stunning performance, especially the first few notes, which were so powerful and stirring, in stark contrast to his small frame. Then, there was more ceremonial stuff and the requisite thanking of everyone involved. It was another very enjoyable day.