When I started JA Storyteller, I knew I wanted to write about the inspiring people I’ve met in my life, including amazing Jamaicans. This year, I plan to highlight at least one person I admire per month according to their borndays.
Well, it just so happens that a friend of mine, Catherine Alexander-McDaniel, whose birthday is in January, published her very first series of Jamaican children’s books on Amazon this month. I could not think of a better time or a better person to feature.
It’s a bit difficult to write about your friends, because you don’t want to sound biased. I’ve known Kate for almost 30 years and she is among my ‘must-see’ people when I go home. Aside from being an amazing friend, Kate is an incredible human being who gives of herself beyond her family and friends. She is also very humble so sometimes I have to find out about things through the new grapevine, aka Facebook!
For one, Kate is an exceptional businesswoman, who truly knows the meaning of good business. Kate was one of the first people in Jamaica to bring SimplyKlean and SmartKlean eco-friendly products to the island, including the Laundry Ball, a non-detergent laundry product that cleans clothes without the use of harmful chemicals. I found out because I was doing the public relations for Green Festival Expo and Laundry Ball was one of their exhibitors. When I posted it on Facebook, I learned that Kate had been promoting Laundry Ball in Jamaica for years!
Second, Kate has made giving back to the community a pillar in her family life. Again, it was through Facebook posts by someone else that I learned Kate was involved with Divine Intervention, a charity feeding the homeless in Kingston. She takes her two sons to volunteer with her and is teaching them “we are our brother’s keeper” through example.
This brings me to Kate, the author. It was over a conversation with Kate about a project I am working on that she shared with me that she had a ‘little’ project of her own.
It went a little something like this:
Kate: I am working on a little something too and I would love to get your thoughts on it. I am writing some children’s books.
Me: What!?! How come you never tell me about dis, Kate? What kind of children’s books?
Kate: It’s about teaching them values and morals. I feel like more and more children in Jamaica lack basic manners and respect. They are growing up with just TV and video games, no morals, and the country is paying for it.
Me: Wow, this is what I was just talking about with some people from Africa. They were saying how the younger generation does not know about Anansi stories and they are losing their culture, and with it, their respect for elders and nature and the social fabric that keeps communities together. I was telling them that we have Anansi stories in Jamaica too that teach a lesson, but people don’t read them anymore. It’s really sad.
Kate: Well this is what these books are about and they are for a Jamaican audience.
Me: Wait, what yuh mean? They’re in patois?
Kate: Yes, some parts, but really they are for Jamaican children and written in a Jamaican context. So far there are three of them – ‘Liar, Liar Pants on Fire’, ‘Practice What Yuh Preach’ and ‘With a Grateful Heart’. I am calling them a series of Jamaican Children’s Stories on Values (How fi grow yuh pickney).
Me: Kate, this is so cool. I want them for my sister’s kids. This is perfect and it is so needed.
And there you have it. We had this conversation in December and the woman does not play. Her books are on Amazon in paperback and electronic version. I love them and am getting a set for my sister and for myself. You should get a set, too!
A FEW WORDS FROM THE PENNY SECTION:
“Kate is amazing, because despite the demands of being a busy working mother, she remains committed to helping others. I’m especially proud of these books because they address two important challenges in our society. Firstly, that of imparting loving, Christian values to our children when so many external influences promote a self-centred and materialistic lifestyle. And secondly, the preservation of our Jamaican culture by developing content that is suitable for children. Kudos my friend. These books are a lovely legacy from you to all our children.” – Yanique
“While many possess the important quality of being able to empathize with others, very few actually put that into action. Kate on the other hand does, and it’s part of her daily routine. From counseling friends through life’s transitions to venturing outside her community to assist those who lack basic human essentials to survive, Kate is always there to help those in need. Kate is a great listener and observer, and has seen an opportunity to help parents with the hardest job in the world, raising children with strong values. So proud of you my friend!” – Anna
“A few months ago, Kate came to my office to ask us to partner with her on a new venture. She wanted the foundation I work for to help her rehabilitate homeless people on the streets of Jamaica. Cool thing about Kate is that you can always count on her to come up with new business ideas. What’s even cooler is that many of these ideas are designed to help others. Let’s face it, not many people want to make helping to rehabilitate homeless people their day job. Kate is a good friend, but what’s even better is that she’s a friend that’s good.” – Melissa