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A boy child, Christened Weston Oswald Lewis was born in Red Hills, St. Gregory District, Clarendon in July, 1951. He was fated to have an eventful life from the start. One month after his birth, Hurricane Charlie hit Jamaica. According to the Gleaner newspaper report, It was the worst hurricane in 70 years and there was great dislocation everywhere.
But Weston was born into a family that kept on going no matter the challenges. So by age 16 he was on his way to Kingston to join his brother, a cabinet maker, to learn the trade. But, just two weeks after starting at the cabinet making shop at which his brother worked, the workers went on strike and Weston had to move on. His mother took him out in search of work. They went to a bedding factory to try their luck - Weston was hired at the princely wage of £2 18shillings and 6pence! He remained at the factory for seven years doing heavy lifting jobs but also learning to drive trucks and cars. When he began earning £4 10pence he moved out on his own and began to ‘throw partner' in order to finance driving lessons which cost a whopping £40!
On November 16, 1971 at age 20, Weston finally succeeded at getting his Driver's license on his fifth try. Although, at that time, one was required to have had a license and been driving for three years before one could get a job as a driver, Weston's employer allowed him to drive the factory's truck. He also worked with his brother who was by then an electrical/refridgerator repairman.
In 1973 Weston decided to try to get a job as a Driver with the Public Works Department (PWD). He was put through a rigorous test. For three weeks he heard nothing further...then three men from the Department came to his home and told him to report to the Ministry the very next morning for another interview. He needed to get school records, long sleeved shirt and tie. The next morning he was at the interview - records, shirt, tie and all! He was hired and sent to work in the "Visiting Experts" Department to be assigned to driving visiting dignitaries.
Three weeks later Weston's life took yet another turn. He was sent to UNDP to replace another driver, who was not being reliable. This was February 1973. It was to have been a temporary assignment. Thirty-eight years and eight Resident Representatives later Weston Oswald Lewis is getting ready to retire!
From the start, Weston distinguished himself. He took on tasks over and above those on his job description as Driver. After two years, with a track record of going the extra mile, he advocated for his own cause and with the support of the Resident Representative, appealed to UNDP Headquarters which agreed to supplement his PWD salary and provide him with uniform.
Then came 1980 and the Driver of the Resident Representative left to live overseas. Weston filled in and so impressed the RR that he kept him in the position albeit acting. In 1982 he was encouraged to apply for the position. He weighed the pros and cons because as an employee of the Government of Jamaica he had job security. He decided to take the chance and apply. By then a new Resident Representative had arrived and recommended that he be made a permanent employee. And, so it was that Weston Oswald Lewis went on to become Senior Driver in 1988 and now looks forward to retirement in July 2011.
Weston describes his time at UNDP as "Wonderful". Far from an ‘easy' job, working as Driver with UNDP for 38 years has meant long working hours from early morning often until late at night. But, Weston has enjoyed his time, has made life-long friendships and commanded respect among his colleagues. He by his own initiative has had added roles including building supervision - ensuring lights and equipment are off after hours; and, supervising watchmen assigned to UNDP by the Government. In this role Weston again showed his mettle as advocate resulting in these persons receiving uniforms and boots, a guard house with rail, in-house training and a supplement to their government salary.
Ever the gentleman, Weston Oswald Lewis has been an exemplary member of the global family of United Nations staff.
38 years of service - an excellent innings!