Glen Johnson's facial expression spoke wonders as he received the donation of a Toyota Hiace minibus on behalf of the National Organisation of Deported Migrants (NODM) yesterday at the British High Commission in St Andrew.
Johnson is the president of the NODM, which was founded in 2010 to provide deportees with advice and practical support to facilitate their reintegration into society, enabling them to make a positive impact.
Upon returning to Jamaica, deportees are faced with several problems such as having no identification, money and, in many cases, housing.
"We do not want anybody to be stranded in Montego Bay and can't get to Kingston upon returning to Jamaica. The big challenge was trying to find some transportation for them as NODM never had any transport of their own. We decided to purchase a mini van for them, to give them freedom of movement," Steve Burns, the first secretary for migration at the British High Commission, told The Gleaner.
In recognition of the positive contribution that deportees can make to their communities and the nation, the British High Commission through its Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programme (RRP) also recently signed a J$8.6-million grant with NODM, enabling the organisation to provide a range of support services to deportees.
"Not only do they return after doing prison time, but they also return with that negative imagery. These are not 20-year-olds who have the mentality of adventurous teenagers. They have come back as 25 to 30-year-olds who made terrible mistakes and want a chance to help society," added Bernard Headley, board chair of NODM.
Octavia Duhaney, a deportee from the United States, shared the dilemma faced by many deportees.
Duhaney migrated from Jamaica at age five with her parents. Prior to being deported she was juggling three jobs in New Orleans to support her five children.
"I lost one of my jobs and was finding it hard to manage. In times of desperation you can get mixed up with the wrong people and the next thing I knew is that I was charged with conspiracy and later sent back to Jamaica." she said
However, upon returning to Jamaica she was referred to a workshop for deportees which led to her being a part of the NODM. Duhaney currently spends her time teaching juvenile delinquents in communities across Jamaica to read, helping them to become productive members of society.
We do not want anybody to be stranded in Montego Bay and can't get to Kingston upon returning to Jamaica. The big challenge was trying to find some transportation for them as NODM never had any transport of their own. - Steve Burns