Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Letter of the Day | Blessed by warm Jamaican welcome

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2021 | 12:07 AM


I am writing to express my gratitude for the manner in which I was treated by the Jamaican authorities when I arrived on the island on December 21, 2020.

I was one of the passengers on that last flight from England before flights were temporarily banned to Jamaica due to COVID-19. I am a Zimbabwean married to a Jamaican. When we landed at Norman Manley International Airport, we were immediately put on buses and taken to St Ann for COVID-19 testing, and accommodated in a hotel for quarantine while we waited for our testing results.

I was given my own room at the hotel. I was not clear about the logistics of where and when food was available, because we were asked to stay in our rooms in case we had the virus and could spread it. My neighbour became aware that I had not been given food and spoke with the hotel staff.

The hotel staff immediately called me and apologised for their oversight. From that time on, the staff would ensure that I was given food. On the day of departure for Kingston, food was served on the bus. Unfortunately, they did not have what I wanted, and so I only asked for a bottle of water. To my surprise, a security official accompanying us went all the way back to the kitchen and the next thing I heard was, “Where is our Zimbabwean friend?” In his hand was a fish meal.

I then tried to contact my husband but wasn’t able to get through to him. I again informed the army officer of my dilemma, to which he assured me that I would be taken home. That is what they did when we arrived in Kingston at the Ministry of Health offices.

A gentleman drove me home, and when we got to the front door he asked me if I had the house keys, which I did. He waited outside and made sure that I was safely inside the house. He carried my suitcase into my house then left.

I cannot find the right words to thank the entire team who coordinated the massive operation in such an efficient manner. Their professionalism and kindness will always be embedded in my heart. Thank you to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Jamaica Defence Force and the entire Jamaica for your kindness. I was miles away from Zimbabwe, but I felt at home among Jamaicans.

God bless you all.