The Just Because Foundation (JBF) founders Chevaughn and Noel Joseph, a husband and wife who set up a support group for children with cancer after losing their own son to the illness are laureates for the 2018 Anthony Sabga Caribbean Award for Excellence.
This disclosure came at a news conference at Tatil Building, Port-of-Spain yesterday attended by ANSA Mc Al head Norman Sabga.
This year’s other laureates are TT-based microbiologist Dr Adesh Ramsubhag, Jamaican writer Kei Miller and Guyanese medical services entrepreneur William Boyle. Each will receive a $500,000 award, medal and citation at a ceremony on May 5, said programme director Maria Superville-Neilson. She said the programme has in all given out $15 million to 35 laureates, who are usually in mid-career and who generally use the award to further their work.
Sabga and former nominating committee member Prof Bridget Brereton told reporters how happy they were with the high quality of this year’s laureates plus the wider pool of other nominees.
Superville-Neilson said the Josephs, recognised for public and civic contributions, set up their foundation out of the tragic experience of losing their son Jabez “JB” Joseph, three, to cancer in 2007. The foundation gives emotional, practical and social support for families of children with cancer, based on their own observation that “their son’s response to treatment had varied depending on the physical and emotional atmosphere of the treatment centre and the support services provided.” They noted a marked environmental difference between hospitals abroad and locally. The JBF worked to establish a 21-bed unit at the Wendy Fitzwilliam Paediatric Hospital, Mt Hope, for children with cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs.) “The speciality unit has recreation facilities and a family-friendly environment which has markedly improved patient well-being and reduced family stress.
“Their interventions have the potential to change the way Caribbean societies approach illness and medical care.”
Superville-Neilson read out details of the three other laureates.
Ramsubhag (science and technology laureate) is a University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine scientist who has worked on how micro-organisms can lead to the development of pharmaceuticals, a global industry worth $1 trillion. “The research findings so far include that the chemical compounds produced by many indigenous organisms from Trinidad have unique antibiotic and other qualities for pharmaceuticals.”
Boyle (entrepreneurship laureate), also a microbiologist, founded Eureka Medical Laboratory, which offers the region 1,000 types of lab tests, plus DNA testing. He also founded renewable energy firm Caribbean Wind and Sun Inc, plus egg production business Amazonia Farms.
Miller (arts and letters laureate) is a poet, writer, scholar and blogger whose work includes three novels, four poetry collections, a short story collection and a book of essays and prophesies. He holds a PhD from Glasgow University and is now a professor of creative writing at the University of Exeter. Miller’s work engages Caribbean themes of race, identity and immigration. His book Augustown won the 2017 Bocas Prize, and his short story collection The Fear of Stones was shortlisted for the 2007 Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize.