Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
BUFF BAY, Portland:
THE JAMAICA Social Investment Fund (JSIF) last weekend handed over a cheque valued at approximately $18 million to the Charles Town Maroons in Portland to assist with the rehabilitation of their Asufu yard, museum, and bathroom facility.
Managing director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, who addressed the large gathering Saturday evening, said the occasion was a fitting one, as Saturday, June 23 marked exactly 273 years since the Maroons signed a treaty with the British to secure their freedom from slavery.
"You gained your independence back then. You also gained your rights to having your own land, preservation of your ancient customs and, as a result, you earned and have retained your special status in the Caribbean," Gillings said.
She added: "We are happy that the signing of this community agreement for the Charles Town Maroons Council Infrastructure Rehabilitation, Marketing and Promotion project is happening today."
JSIF's total contribution towards the project is $17,859,506.80, and the total project cost is $21,999,506.80.
According to Gillings, the Charles Town project is being implemented under the World Bank-funded Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), which is managed by JSIF. REDI was established to stimulate and support development of viable micro and small economic community projects in agriculture and community-based tourism.
"Both are growth sectors as they offer rural communities an oppor-tunity to utilise its natural assets to generate sustainable livelihoods for its people. Specifically, community-based tourism offers tourists an opportunity to experience the Jamaican history and culture. This experience is in high demand, and even more so after Usain Bolt's achievements. Many visitors want to eat the Jamaican food, dance to our music and truly live the Jamaican life."