Cameal Davis - Championing climate change education
BETWEEN PERFORMANCES on the hotel circuit and across Jamaica's various nooks and crannies, one wonders where Cameal Davis - the 2008 Digicel Rising Stars winner - finds time to dedicate to the environment.
But she makes it happen, lending her talents to the Panos Caribbean Voices for Climate Change Education initiative. Voices, a flagship Panos project since 2009, draws on the artistic talents of Jamaicans and others in the region to raise public awareness on climate change, its implications for the Caribbean and how people can respond.
"What our people did in the past, it affected us. There is no way for us to change it back, but we can lessen the effects. So whatever I can contribute, I am willing," said Davis, who performed with Voices at a climate change concert in Emancipation Park, New Kingston, last December.
The Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation hosted the concert in collaboration with Panos Caribbean during Climate Change Awareness Week.
Davis finds a constant source of inspiration in her two-year-old daughter.
"When I think about my daughter, I wonder if she will be able to have the experiences I did when I was young (given the climate change threats). Will she be able to go to a river? Will she be able to go to the beach? I want her to have those experiences," she said.
Fuelled by increasing human emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, climate change threatens to devastate entire communities, particularly those of small-island developing states, as seen in the Caribbean.
This is given their physical location, which puts them in the path of developing storm/hurricane systems, the likes of which was experienced with the passage of Hurricane Matthew late last year.
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Their small, stressed economies also put them at added risk, even as the threat of increasing and/or more frequent extreme weather events, such as droughts loom large; sea levels rise and coasts flood; freshwater resources face depletion; and temperatures rise.
Despite her many roles - mother, environmental advocate, actress, and singer - Davis shows no sign of slowing down, and not when it comes to taking her brand as a singer international.
Her next big thing is the upcoming World Championship of Performing Arts - a global competition that sees Davis as a member of the Jamaica team. Some 50 countries from around the world are to compete for the gold, scholarships and cash incentives for nine days, beginning in the summer in Los Angeles, California.
According to Davis, there was no question of throwing her not throwing her hat into the ring - even with the US$3,500 she has to raise to secure her place on the Jamaica team.
"On an international stage, you would get more stage to showcase what you have. And there are possibilities of scouts and other agents. I could also get full funding to get my master's in music," she told The Gleaner.
"I love tourism and music equally, and the competition offers you a degree in music. Why not do a master's in something that you love? The music degree comes with performances as well as entertainment ties, and with my hospitality and tourism management degree, who knows, I can be an entertainment director somewhere," added Davis, who holds her current degree from the University of the West Indies.
She is seeking, in much the way she did with Digicel Rising Stars, to harness the support of her countrymen - financial and otherwise.
"There are deadlines which we have to meet (regarding the payment) ... I have already paid up some of the money, but I need donations as soon as possible," she said, noting that she is also looking to organise a raffle as part of her fundraising efforts for the championships.
"Whatever minimal contribution in terms of cash would be appreciated," she added.
To donate to Davis' hunt for gold, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In exchange for assistance, she promises to do Jamaica proud.
"Jamaica has loved me for so long and I have appreciated it ... I aim to represent them and show that look, what is going on in Jamaica is not all negative," Davis said.
"I am going there with the intention to win. I will aim for the stars, and if I fall, I will fall among the clouds," she added.
Meanwhile, on the environment and in particular climate change, Davis encourages others to join the response effort.
"Sometimes, you just have to teach one person and that person continues to impart that knowledge to someone else," she noted.