The Petchary is the Jamaican name for the Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicennis) – a summer visitor to the island.  Its name echoes its strident cry.  Sometimes called the Storm Bird, it will sing all night, and chase away John Crows.  “That ceaseless shriek”…These are the cries of the Petchary, who currently resides in Kingston, Jamaica.

For more about me, please look me up on LinkedIn (Emma Lewis) which tells you all you need to know (and probably too much). The basic information is that I am a writer, social media activist (find me on Twitter @Petchary) and NGO supporter/board member. I am London-born, an Oxford graduate with a Jamaican husband and a World-Citizen son.


  1. Welcome Emma to the world of blogging!!!🙂
    I must comment on your “image of the day”… In the midst of what may be turmoil or a sense of unease, the picture in my mind symbolizes hope of what can be… That patch of darkness to the north is somehow hidden by possibilities coloured with shades of blue and shades of white.
    The galaxy? The earth? The ocean? Simply possibilities:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind comment, Rob! I am also enjoying your blog and my husband and I were awestruck by your photography. Please continue reading and leaving comments…I will be writing about the Gulf of Mexico nightmare again tomorrow, I think! Let’s keep in touch! Emma (the Petchary)


    • Hi, I was doing some research on Chinese dissidents and found this photo on a “Boston Globe” website remembering Tiananmen Square 20 years later. The caption to the photo is: “Ding Zilin, mother of 17-year-old pro-democracy demonstrator Jiang Jielian who was killed during the 1989 army crackdown on Tiananmen protesters, weeps as she talks about the event in her Beijing flat during an interview on April 7, 2009. Twenty years on, Ding’s pain is still as raw as it was when her son was shot through the heart in the army crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters in China, an event that she says broke her.” (PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images) However, I found it on a different website and did not know there was copyright on it… It’s PETER PARKS OF AFP (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE). I hope this helps.


  2. Hi Petchary,
    I live in New Zealand and i am doing an essay at the moment on use of colours in geographic information systems .. just a little about my essay .. now, the colours that we use on maps are mostly influenced by the western culture symbolising their values and how and why they associate certain colours with information displayed on the maps (brown for land, green for vegetation, blue for sea, red for warm, blue for cool etc) .. i want to show from my essay that when we are working with different cultures of people and doing research on their aspects of life and values then we should use colours that are significant to these cultures and not our western dominant colours .. i am not trying to undermine the western culture here but trying to priviledge the cultures that have sound values and systems like the western culture .. just because the foundations of Geog info systems is western .. it does not mean that we cannot incorporate other cultural values systems into gis .. i am focussing on the indigenous cultures because there is a lot of research being done on them and most so called experts or researchers like me are outsiders (not from that group) .. just the thought of the topic is challenging .. but i want to do this …
    would you have some information on this ? would u be able to help me out with anything on this?
    let me know …
    thanks in advance


    • Hi Seema: Thanks for getting in touch from the other side of the world, and for subscribing to my blog. It always gives me a thrill to get a new subscriber! Wow, that’s quite a topic, I am still tossing it around in my head. I wonder if other colors are used here in Jamaica – but we are very aware of color – we paint our offices and houses green, purple, bright orange! I know very little about GIS systems but I do know a firm called Mona Geoinformatics Institute, based on our University of the West Indies campus, who work with GIS all day long… You can find them at http://www.monagis.com/. In fact, we have our own GIS company, JamNav. You can find out more at their website and the head is Dr. Parris Lyew-Ayee. I am sure they would be able to help! Good luck with your research, and I hope this will be of some assistance. Meanwhile do continue reading my blog and making comments if you wish – I love comments! Thanks, Emma


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  4. WELL DONE! Emma, and I thought I was your only viewer from Sweden, but clearly the data shows (2012 WordPress Report – 778 views) that there are others here. Even I don’t look twice a day every day! Come on Ja-Sweden lovers reveal yourselves to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha!! Thank you so much, John! No, isn’t it amazing. I was stunned to see that I have had views from such far-flung places as the Congo, even! No, all those Swedish views can’t be just you, devoted reader though you are!! 😉 Hopefully they will emerge from the shadows and identify themselves! Warmest wishes to you and your family for 2013!


  5. Hello Petchary !! Thank you for your visit on my blog🙂 I wish you the best for this new year !

    You like the “lait concentré sucré” lol me too…. I think you should like a special chocolate we are cooking in Martinique, “chocolat de première communion”, it’s a wonderfull chocolate for special occasion (like wedding)🙂


    La Tchipie

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Stumbled on to your blog while looking for some information on Mustard Seed Communities in Kingston. Our university is bringing some students down to help out there in March after our school pulled the plug on our trip to El Salvador because of increased risk of violence. Our students are looking for information on what the needs are in Jamacia. Anyplace you can suggest I go?

    Liked by 2 people

    • If you want to know what the needs are here, I would suggest you contact Father Gregory Ramkissoon directly at Mustard Seed. They are a very worthy organization who do fantastic work but probably have their specific needs. You should also get advice on bringing in goods though, as there are a lot of issues regarding the red tape. Mustard Seed would be able to provide or you could bring things in via Food for the Poor, who are Miami-based, for example. Good luck and enjoy your trip to Jamaica!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am the coordinator for the Delta Upsilon trips and would love to talk to you more about what we are doing in your country. I am in Jamaica right now with another group of men and we are working more on our project at Gordon’s Early Childhood by Sav la Mar. Thanks for the mention in the blog. Very cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Kaye! Lovely to hear from you. I would love to talk to you. Don’t want to post my number online but you can reach me at petchary@gmail.com. You’re so welcome! I was browsing and that lovely photo caught my eye. I think in the blog said they were doing a kind of rotation. I live in Kingston but would love to write something about the work you are all doing. Look forward to hearing from you!


  8. Hi,

    Healthline recently partnered with the Timothy Ray Brown Foundation (TRBF) to launch “You’ve Got This” – a video campaign that encourages HIV patients to give hope and advice to the recently diagnosed. For every video created, Healthline will donate $10 to the TRBF towards finding a cure. Initial participants include Jack Mackenroth, Olympian Ji Wallace, Paul Lekakis, Josh Robbins, and Kevin Maloney.

    We would love if you could help us spread the word about the campaign by sharing with your friends, followers and/or posting to your website or blog. For more information, please visit: http://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/youve-got-this and https://www.facebook.com/TheNewFaceofHIV

    Thank you in advance for your support and please let me know if you have any questions.

    Warm Regards,


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love your blog. It is everything I would hope my blog could be, if I were ever to start one. Your listing of the Jamaicans killed every week really resonates with me. I once had the idea of starting a “Right to Life” website, which would track all Jamaicans killed, in whatever circumstances. It would have photos and some details to highlight their humanity, and follow up on the aftermath – investigations, and (where appropriate) arrests, prosecution, conviction & sentencing. After all, our govt has obligations to protect the right to life by both “negatively” and “positively” – not only should it *refrain* from killing us illegally, but it also should properly investigate and prosecute murders. It is failing on both counts. BTW, I saw in one post you called “YOU” “Youth Opportunities Limited”. In fact, it is “Youth Opportunities UNlimited”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Narda, thank you so very much. I am not quite sure why I started keeping this record. I suppose it dawned on me that Jamaican men, women and children were losing their lives in this way – a continuous flow almost, just in the background. Without anyone taking much notice, unless it is something that the media choose to dwell on because it is “uptown,” or a well-known person, or there is something sensational about it. I think the idea of a “Right to Life” website is brilliant… I try to find photos but there are very few in the local media. They are just names and numbers. Yes, I believe the primary responsibility of any government is to protect our lives and keep us safe. The lack of proper investigation and prosecution of murders is of course one of the factors in our high murder rate. OH! Thanks for the correction! No one else spotted my error about YOU. (Brain has not been functioning too well, due to the flu!) Thanks again for your kind comments…


  10. Looking at your picture of Cross Roads, I’ll note that I’m one person who’s often taking pictures of life going on in Kingston, and anywhere, as I see it. Haven’t figured out how to share those other than to keep posting on FB. Just getting into Flickr, so that may be better.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hey Petchary, really great blog! I was looking for some Jamaican bloggers, to hear more about the place I lived and my daughter’s birth place. Nice nice! Any other Jamaican, or Caribbean bloggers, please contact me too!


  12. Hi Mrs. Lewis, you have a really great blog. I’m working on a project about Logistics Hubs and your articles on the Goat Islands were quite extensive and pleasant to read. I was wondering if there was anyway to get in direct contact with you? It would be in relation to a science journal my business is working on. My email is: r-g-veda@hotmail.com. If this is too personal, you can delete this comment but I’d really like to get in contact with you to talk further.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Emma – This is Caroline from Kathmandu, soon to be Jamaican resident…. I checked your profile on Linkedin and discovered that we had something significant in common. Can I write to you via email? Can you share your email address or way to contact you offline? Thanks.


      • You’re welcome🙂 I’m working on leaving London, as this toxic place is terrible for my health. My books are available online, but the third one hasn’t come out yet. The first one about my life in Jamaica is called ‘A Chronicle of Karma,’ which has been out for almost a year now. You may just google it and it will show up. Thank you and wishing you well🙂


  14. Hi Emma.
    Thank you for another of your outstanding blog entries. You have brought attention to some very important issues.
    I would like to comment on the recent fatal accident involving the 2 UWI students. In addition to the loss of life by murders in Jamaica, it appears that there is also a very high death rate from car accidents, and most of them are the result of speeding and failure of motorists to obey the speed limits.
    In Suriname, they use the “Drempel”, or as we know them, the “Sleeping Policeman” to control speeds on highway and country roads. They are engineered and designed to force people to observe the speed limits, whether it is 50 or 60 mph on a highway, or 15 mph in a small town or village. The advantage is that they don’t require constant police supervision and they work 24/7 at no cost. The only cost would be to a driver who exceeds the recommended speed while crossing one of these bumps and damages their vehicle.
    I think this would be a significant contribution to Jamaican road safety and should be considered. Definitely a low-cost, low-maintenance and effective speed control technique, that is worth the small investment in saving lives.


    • Dear Errol: You know, this is such a simple way to slow people down, isn’t it and as you say requires no monitoring or maintenance! I have often wondered why we have so few “sleeping policemen,” – only in parking lots and a few urban residential areas. Yet there are some stretches of main roads all across the island that are notorious “hot spots” for crashes. Perhaps these could be put strategically along highways (with warning signs) and definitely in built up areas. I will ask my friends at the National Road Safety Council about this! thank you for your kind comments, Errol and keep reading! Emma


  15. Emma, Errol, ‘traffic calming’ is nigh on impossible and not necessarily desirable where high and fast traffic flows are the norm or the design feature. So, you’ll see them in residential areas, where traffic use has changed and residential safety is better preserved by getting vehicles to move more slowly. Hence, on highways, for example, ‘sleeping policemen’ won’t be a desired option because they go against the basic nature of that type of road. In places like Jamaica, you get unintended conflicts between, say, people and vehicles, because old habits die hard (highway runs between communities, and people still try to cross that new road as if it did not exist, or with little notion of dangers posed to themselves and other users).

    ‘Hotspots’ for accidents don’t lend themselves to one one solution. For instance, most of our notorious stretches are problems because of driver errors and most of our fatalities come from unprotected passengers/driver/riders and careless pedestrians. Education is vital, but slow. One piece of research that’s essential is into why the evidence on safety measures hasn’t convinced road users to follow them.

    If someone were to do a time lapse videos of a few accident hotspots they’d be quite telling about how the various actors contribute.


      • It’s worth noting that, while ‘calming’ may be tried with physical barriers in some places, others don’t do this but change the perceived risks of speeding. This is common in the UK and U.S., by using speed cameras that trigger automatically and then send out heavy fines automatically with images of moment of infraction. People know the problem areas, which may be many and sequenced, and drive more slowly and with greater care. Those who don’t, usually pay the fines and bleat, or accumulate points that affect insurance, driving licenses or both. The UK even got cute by having dummy cameras on motorways, which got the desired results 😊


  16. The ‘sleeping policemen’ are designed to accommodate different speeds. For example, there are some that you can cross at say, 30 or 50 mph, but if you go any faster the jolt and bump will be severe, and you feel that your vehicle may be damaged if you go any faster. They are engineered to encourage compliance with the specific speed limit, and there are warning signs when you are approaching one, so you slow down. Seems to be quite effective and is definitely worth consideration by the NRSC.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Emma – Trying to connect with you. Very oddly, all our inbox communication on FB has disappeared and our emails have disappeared from my gmail account. I’ve tried a couple of times with new FB messages but haven’t heard back. Sorry if its just because you are busy, but I’m suspicious they may be some kind of glitch. We have now arrived in Kingston with my son who’s a student filmmaker in London, and here’s only here for another ten days. He’s interested in coming back to Jamaica this fall and making a short environmental documentary, so I thought you would be a good person for him to meet. Perhaps you know an activist who could benefit from having their story told? Anyway, I thought I’d try this avenue of communication again. Kind regards, Caroline (from Kathmandu)


    • Hello Caroline: How strange that our Facebook connection has gone! I am still on Facebook certainly and check it daily… I just looked around and cannot see any messages from you! I will check my emails in a little while…Oh dear. I confess I am not on FB that much these days (mostly on Twitter @petchary) so may have simply missed your messages but…? Anyway, never mind. I would love to meet your son and have a chat. Yes, I do know some environmentalists – and there are many stories to tell, indeed. Please let’s keep in touch. I am pretty much free and flexible whenever your son would like to meet. All the best and I am so sorry about this… Emma


  18. I’m glad this worked and no problem. I suspected is was an FB glitch and perhaps “earthquake brain” that lost the emails from you in gmail. (A real phenomenon I fear!) I’ll send you a twitter message with my email address and then we can continue the conversation by email. Look forward to meeting you!


  19. Hello!

    My name is McKenzie Powell and I am a journalist at Ohio University in the United States. I am currently working on an article regarding the LGBTQ community within Jamaica (I would like to focus largely on the trans* community) and, after seeing some of your work, I would be very interested in hearing your views on the matter!

    If you would be willing to talk and possibly set up an interview, or if you have any contacts that you would recommend for me to reach out to, please email me at kp930011@ohio.com.

    Thank you for your time,

    McKenzie Powell


  20. Hi Sir/Mam,

    At the outset, I would like to extend warm greetings to you and take the opportunity to put forward the objective of this communication.

    I am writing on behalf of Oxford University Press (OUP) and this is with reference to one of our upcoming publications, ‘CCSLC Social Studies’, details of which have been shared at the end of this mail.

    In this regard, I would like to state that, the said publication is in need of using the photo (photo attached) from your article ‘Jammin’, Digitally: The Mentor’, published on (https://petchary.wordpress.com/tag/educentres/) website for reference purpose.

    As stated above, please find below the details of the book under discussion:

    Publication details: Oxford University Press ‘’
    Author Names: Alexandra Tomescu
    ISBN Number:
    Content: Educational

    Before we close this mail, I would once again like to request you to grant OUP the access to this photo.

    We look forward your kind permission in this regard. Thanks in advance!

    Thanks and Regards,
    Vikrant Singh
    Photo Researcher
    OKS Group


  21. Hi Emma. I’ve nominated you for a Bloggers Recognition award, the info is at


    Completely voluntary, you may have a virtual shelf full of these already. If you choose to recognize the award, here are the rules to the nomination…

    To accept your award you must:
    (1) write a post to show your Award
    (2) Acknowledge the Blogger that nominated you
    (3) Give a brief story about how you get started blogging
    (4) Give two pieces of Advice for new bloggers
    (5) Nominate the deserving 15 bloggers

    Thanks for connecting.
    Happy blogging!


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