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Household worker prevails despite disability

A 53-year-old was on Tuesday named the male household worker of the year at the 5th annual GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker Awards at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston.

Despite losing part of his left arm during a fight 20 years ago, Michael Brown continued to pursue his passion for farming while also working with a family who he says treats him “like family”.

“The children dem call me Uncle T. I am their Uncle T and you just have to be pleasant, so they can come around,” he said while speaking to the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.

When asked about the challenges he has faced due to his disability, Brown admitted that sometimes simple tasks can be tedious.

“Sometime mi wah hang one nail and it hard,” Brown said. “Eye water come a mi eye because I cannot do simple things, sometimes.

“Look pon big man like me and [mi] cyaa help myself,” he said, adding that he will never stop trying.

When he was named this year’s champion, Brown was welcomed with cheers and congratulatory messages from the audience, which included chief executive officer of GraceKennedy Limited, Senator Don Wehby, and keynote speaker Juliet Holness, who is the Member of Parliament for St Andrew East Rural and the wife of Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Brown said he intends to put the prize money towards taking better care of his animals on his farm and building a house.

Rosemarie Forrester emerged as the female household worker of the year.

She told the Observer that the key to success is performing the job diligently.

“You just have to be honest, work hard, and never give in,” she said

Meanwhile, Senator Wehby said that the awards ceremony is one of the most anticipated events at GraceKennedy, and promised that it will continue to honour those who contribute to national development, regardless of their personal challenges.

“This is a very special occasion,” he said. “A top event at Grace that we use to recognise what we refer to as our unsung heroes.”

For her part, Holness referred to household workers as “magicians” who “help to make our professional lives easier because we know everything is okay at home”.

This year’s winners received accounts from First Global Bank with $330,000, $25,000 gift vouchers from HiLo and $100,000 from GraceKennedy towards their education or the education of a student of their choice.

The GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Awards was conceptualised to pay homage to notable nutritionist, healthy lifestyle and household workers’ advocate Heather Little-White, who passed away in 2013.