The country of Belize is aptly named the "Jewel of the Caribbean."
Ambergris Caye, as the premier destination in the country, boasts
magnificent marine life and crystalline waters. However, even with its
entire splendor, the Caribbean Sea poses a threat to all residents of
Belize and visitors to this country during Hurricane Season. This week,
The San Pedro Sun is proud to introduce a man who dedicates his time to
prepare the island community in the event of a hurricane - James
Janmohamed, District Coordinator for the National Emergency Management
James was born on June 10th, 1955 to Fatima and Hassan Janmohamed
(deceased) in Kampala, Uganda in East Africa. He and his sister,
Shahina, enjoyed growing up in the great outdoors until he was 14; when
his family moved to Northwood, Middlesex in England.
In England, James attended Northwood Hills Second Modern School and
after successfully completing his studies there, he enlisted in the
British Army. At 15, he was a part of the Junior Leaders Regiment,
Royal Armored Corp. It was there that James completed his education and
received his "O" Level certificates in Geography and Engineering
Drawing, apart from his military training.
When he was 17, James joined his regiment - The 17th/21st Lancers,
a Cavalry Regiment stationed in West Germany, where he eventually
became a tank commander. Throughout his military career, James traveled
all over the world to places such as: Hong Kong, New Zealand,
Australia, Africa, North Ireland, Canada, the United States of America,
Jamaica and Belize.
James first set foot on Belizean soil in 1975 for only 35 days on
special assignment. Unfortunately, in 1978, while trying to change a
calibrated rod on a 55-foot radio mast, James suffered a fall that left
him in intensive care and it took a full year for him to recover. In
late 1979, James returned to Belize and was stationed at Holdfast Camp
in the Cayo District as Tank Commander on Scorpion tanks. In addition
to his military duties, he also acted as a liaison officer coordinating
efforts between Belizean officials and his troops during hurricane
season. James was transferred back to Germany six months later but
after three years, he decided to leave the British Armed Forces.
In 1982, James returned to England and began working as an engineer
for British Telecom PLC. Finding this was not his niche; James and a
friend opened their own business, "JR Car Hire," a limousine company
catering to high-end clientele.
Two years later, James fell in love with a girl he met at a wedding
reception, Jamila Arab. It was not long after, the couple decided to
get married. On July 15th, 1984, James and Jamila were united in
marriage in London at a well-attended wedding ceremony. Today, they are
the proud parents of a daughter, Samira (25), who resides in London.
In September of 1985, James traveled back to Belize for a vacation
with his wife. The two were instantly drawn to the wonderfully warm
people and decided they would move to this "neck of the woods." The
hardest thing was deciding where they wanted to live in the country.
However, as soon as Jamila set foot on the beautiful, sandy beaches of
Ambergris Caye, she found an easy answer - to live on "La Isla Bonita."
James was first employed as a bartender at the Royal Palm Inn Bar.
He loved the atmosphere and commented it was a great experience. "It
was quite enjoyable to have no worries for a change," he said. His
strong determination and ambition soon got him promoted to general
manager of the Royal Palm Inn.
In 1985, with the ever-impending threat of hurricanes, San Pedro
Town Mayor Gilberto "Chico" Gomez recognized the need for an emergency
plan for the island. Since James had experience with disaster
preparedness while in the army, the San Pedro Town Board requested his
assistance. Working with the Town Board, James drafted the first set of
Hurricane Orders, which listed the procedures to follow in case of a
In 1989, James received a magnificent opportunity - to become a
partner at Royal Palm Inn. After a lengthy discussion with his wife, he
happily took over the reins of the business. James' time was spent
managing hotel operations and sales, since Royal Palm quickly became
part of a time-share agency.
James' expertise was once again called upon in September of 1998,
when Hurricane Mitch threatened the shores of Ambergris Caye. The laws
he had helped to draft in 1985 were called up and a plan of action was
formed. Throughout the duration of this national emergency, he assisted
the San Pedro Town Council and the Area Representative with the
challenges they faced as Mitch "came ashore."
In September of 2000, as the Operations Officer of the San Pedro
Emergency Committee, James saw the island through Hurricane Keith.
After the storm, he was asked to coordinate the recovery effort to help
rebuild the island and to get it ready for tourists. Once again, he
willingly donated his time and efforts for the safety and welfare of
the San Pedro Community. After Keith devastated the island, James acted
as District Emergency Coordinator, facilitating the needs of the
utility companies, in order to get electricity, water, and telephone
services restored in the quickest time possible. With his help,
Ambergris Caye was "back in business" by November, ready to welcome the
Thanksgiving visitors to the island.
In 2001, when Hurricane Iris struck the southern part of the
country, James and a dedicated Emergency Committee again committed
their time and energy to getting the coastal villages and surrounding
communities "back on their feet." James remained in Placencia for 45
days carrying out post-hurricane assistance - from cooking meals to
distributing relief supplies. He commented, "It is such a gratifying
feeling knowing that you did your part to help others when they really
On June 15th, 2002, James received his highest praise when Her
Majesty, Queen Elizabeth of England named him an Officer of the British
Empire (OBE) for his devotion in offering assistance to the country of
Belize during all of these national disasters. "It was such a great
honor, especially since I lived most of my life in London. I never in
my wildest dreams thought I would receive this type of recognition"
Today, James remains an active member of the National Emergency
Management Organization (NEMO) acting as the Operations Officer for the
San Pedro Emergency Committee and NEMO's District Coordinator for
Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. In November 2003, he attended a NEMO
Conference in Belmopan along with other members of emergency
organizations from around the Caribbean. "This national emergency plan
has excelled my expectations, and we have grown by leaps and bounds,"
he exclaimed. James is also the Chairman of the local Citizens
Committee, which is responsible for overseeing municipal improvements
that are subsidized by Central Government, such as the cobblestone
project on Pescador Drive and the San Pedro Marina in the DFC
Subdivision. In addition, he is a member of the Belize Gaming Board and
the Vice President of the British Bulldogs, an ex-patriot club that
carries out fundraising events which assist the San Pedro community.
In his free time, James enjoys fishing. "It is one of my greatest
passions and since I just purchased a boat, I look forward to the days
when I work less and fish more," he jokingly commented.
James has made San Pedro Town his home and has no real intention of
leaving Belize. Always willing to lend a helping hand, James Janmohamed
is an asset, of "hurricane" proportion, to "Our Community."