Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Taking back Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | November 19, 2014 | 12:00 AMKeisha Hill
Contributed Photo Christopher Perry makes a new friend during a visit to Jamaica.
Contributed Photo Christopher Perry
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A recently launched crowdfunding website, www.takingbackjamaica.com has created a fundraising platform that enables Jamaicans and non-Jamaicans in 37 countries around the world to connect and raise money on behalf of individuals, schools, hospitals, and organisations throughout Jamaica.

Although the island has made notable progress in poverty reduction and is ranked an upper middle-income country, recent global food, fuel and financial crises, and the high levels of national debt threaten to exacerbate Jamaica's economic difficulties and reverse the progress made thus far.

According to founder Christopher Perry, the state-of-the-art online platform connects Jamaica to the rest of the world, creates transparency, security and communications between donors, supporters and organisations that instil confidence in the diaspora.

"Jamaica is made up of so many caring individuals and organisations but often fall short of the necessary funding to carry out their mission. Takingbackjamaica.com encourages everyone to participate in creating a brighter today and tomorrow for Jamaica," Perry said.

needs of the residents

Perry visited Jamaica for the first time seven years ago as a consultant and lived in Montego Bay, St James. He visited some of the most volatile areas in Montego Bay and witnessed first-hand the needs of the residents. Upon his return to the United States, he decided to provide a medium in which individuals around the world can assist with these needs.

"I have been incredibly fortunate in my life to never have had to experience the difficulties I see in the world every single day. I cannot imagine what it is like to be without the basic necessities of life - food, water, clothing, shelter, sanitation, education and health care - and I think it is a shame that in a country as great as Jamaica, anyone should," Perry said.

"We are all looking to make a difference in our world and I believe that by coming together, we are going to make a substantial impact in Jamaica. Jamaica is made up of these important social connections and if we foster them positively, they will pay huge dividends - in love, care, and a better Jamaica," Perry added.

The focus of the online project is working with organisations that help those in need to rebuild and restructure Jamaica. These include community efforts such as small-scale construction projects, shelter, food aid, health care, access to water, agriculture, schools, educational opportunities and more.

"We firmly believe that if you work on creating the most well-equipped society you can, so many problems will work themselves out. There are several other crowd-funding sites, but this one is easier to navigate and more interactive," Perry said.

Adopt-A-School programme

Through its Adopt-A-School programme, Perry also envisions that all schools in Jamaica be listed on the website and be adopted by alumni living abroad, or by organisations in these countries, to raise money for the schools.

"Our system is connected to all the major social networks, so it is very easy to expose the campaign to millions of potential donors with just a click of a button. This is something Jamaicans in Jamaica would play a major role in, with promoting a campaign that was started for them," Perry said.

Takingbackjamaica.com is a trademark of Energy One Marketing Group Inc.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com