Hope for Faith's Pen vendors
"WHEN HIGHWAY 2000 opens up, what happens to the people of Faith's Pen?" asked Dr John Gochenouer. "They make their living selling food on a road ... and soon at least 50 per cent of the people are not going to be travelling on that road."
Gochenouer posed the question to a group of Kingston Rotarians gathered at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston last Thursday.
The highway, scheduled to open in March of next year, will bypass Faith's Pen and its well-known food stalls leaving in question the livelihoods of many in the community.
Gochenouer, a business professor at Southwestern Minnesota University and the husband of a Jamaican, believes that Highway 2000 needs not spell disaster for Faith's Pen.
Rather, he argued, there is substantial opportunity for the development of an inland tourist destination at the vendors' current location.
"When visitors come to Jamaica and go to a beach, they see nothing at night," he said. "nice being on the beach but when you're up in the mountains, it's alive."
Gochenouer has secured an initial endowment of US$10,000 from his Minnesota Rotary Club for the rehabilitation of Faith's Pen.
"We have a two-fold purpose for working in the current location," said Gochenouer. "Number one; it will continue to operate in that location because people will still take the local road. Number two, we see it as an opportunity to demonstrate that that facility can be upgraded to the level where it will attract tourists."
With the support of local Rotary Clubs and the group Students in Free Enterprise, Gochenouer would see the construction of new toilet facilities, the training of vendors to handle foreign clientele, and the general beautification of the current site.
"It's not just about getting a meal at Faith's Pen, it is about recognising the beauty of your land, not just your ocean. We can have a facility in the mountains that represents a starting point for opening up the interior to additional international funds coming into Jamaica."