Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Hampden - more than just cutting cane

Published:Tuesday | February 14, 2017 | 2:00 AM

As the success of the historic Hampden Estate's Rum Fire distillery tour continues, young people from both Trelawny and St James are being attracted to the facility, which they see as a source of employment and other opportunities.

Yanique Dunbar, a resident of nearby Dumfries in St James, currently works as an administrative assistant at the estate, a situation she admitted she never saw herself experiencing, despite having grown up hearing stories about the 264-year-old Hampden.

"Back then, it was all about cutting cane (at Hampden), but as a young girl growing up, I was like, 'I am not going out in the field to cut cane,'" said Dunbar, who has been employed at Hampden for two years. "But when you come here and see everything, it is different; and you get to learn and understand the process. I have been cutting cane here for myself; once you understand it, it is better."

Her co-worker Monique Dunbar, a resident of Adelphi in St James, said she has taken her work as one of the estate's tour guides as a continuous learning experience since she started there last September.

"In a couple of years from now, I plan to be here (working at Hampden)," Monique said confidently. "The guests are nice, they are fun, and they come from different places; so I experience different types of people, and I learn a lot from them, too."

Latoya Samuels, who lives in Falmouth, Trelawny, but is not employed at Hampden, shared a more cautious optimism about the potential gains to be derived from the estate, which works with a number of tour operators to transport cruise ship passengers to the Rum Fire distillery.

"There has to be some amount of employment being created, but I am going to say that the Port Authority, as usual, will have the handle in this one and will make it benefit whoever they wish. Yes, we might benefit, but to what extent?" said Samuels. "Where tourists are concerned, the Port Authority controls all activities surrounding them, and I am sure they are going to control tours."