Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Time for Jamaicans to build Jamaica

Published:Friday | January 9, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Donna Hunter, GUEST COLUMNIST

This is an open letter to every citizen of Jamaica.

Our heritage is dying a slow and painful death. Apart from our national holidays when we gyrate and celebrate, not much of the legacy that was left by our ancestors is being carried on by this generation. Therefore, not much will be left for the young ones to appreciate.

Our young generation has lost respect for our elders, for national emblems, and monuments, and lacks knowledge of our history. Some are reared in unstable homes where they receive lack of nurturing and then they are unleashed on society.

Others are trying to find their purpose, making their way to school with little or no lunch monies, acquiring subjects, then are asked by employers to have experience when they are just leaving high school. Why do we make their life so challenging then dislike them when they become criminals? Our country is made up of so many talented people and, until we learn how to capitalise on the various activities that do not only require book knowledge, I am afraid we will move backwards instead of forward.

A country cannot experience significant growth if its citizens do not recognise the importance of supporting local businesses. A large percentage of all fruits and vegetables purchased in Jamaica, among other things, is imported.

These are produce we grow and could grow here in Jamaica. Instead of buying produce that has travelled across the sea, why not spend some of our money on products that have been manufactured locally and grown locally? They taste fresher and, more importantly, it benefits our economy. When citizens buy and support local businesses, the money goes directly into our country and helps these businesses to grow and maintain sustainability on the market. Buying local products also creates much-needed jobs for our citizens.

We call upon the government for everything and we hold it accountable when it does not perform to our standards, but before we can further chastise it, we need to chastise ourselves. We ignore our entrepreneurs and constantly fill our trolleys with imported items dressed in clothing and shoes from various parts of the world, instead of supporting our locals. I am in no way saying we are to boycott the goods and services from other countries. I am simply asking us to balance the trolleys when we shop, purchase the clothing, and wear our brands proudly.

Local crafts

Our local craft industry is suffering. As usual, we pass the craft vendors in Fern Gully because we still harbour the thought that these businesses are for tourists. We need to support these businesses more often and not rely on visitors to make the necessary purchases. How many of us own a piece of handmade craft hung or placed in a corner decorating our homes? How many of us ventured to the craft market and purchased items to give as gifts on mother's day or Christmas?

We have allowed this to happen. Yes, every single one of us is responsible. We did not carry on that flame that our ancestors have left us. We no longer feel that burning in our 'belly bottoms' to turn things around and see what we can do to play our part. We only learn to appreciate our country when we travel overseas and experience the harsh reality of working three or four jobs in freezing temperatures. We come home and, at the airports, we fall to our knees thanking God for Jamaica.

In 2015, let us not take our paradise for granted. Support each other. Life tuff, but wi no haffi play so ruff.

I am Jamaican and proud to be one.

Donna Hunter is a writer and blogger. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com or Bedeeinspired@gmail.com.