Tue | Mar 21, 2023

The beautiful Jamaican spirit

Published:Friday | January 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Chester Francis-Jackson, Gleaner Writer

From left: Kathrine Olowa Pango and Marissa Bailey take in the show. - photos by colin hamilton

It has been a heart-rending week as we continue to see vivid photographs, not to mention hear personal stories, of the grief and horror that has befallen our Caribbean neighbour, Haiti, following the January 12 earthquake.

However, there is never a cloud without a silver lining and, in response to the death and destruction wreaked upon that country and its people, the hidden generosity and charity of the Jamaican spirit has risen to the surface. Perhaps it is the earthquake's timely reminder of our own vulnerabilities as humans that has humbled most of us. There is now no escaping the resolve of the average Jamaican to do something tangible to ease the suffering and plight of our Haitian neighbours. It has reaffirmed this scribe's despairing faith in the goodness of the Jamaican character!

Jamaican charity in action

As images chronicling the unima-ginable horrors that have befallen the Haitians emerge, the initial reaction of crippling fear and numbness, born out of disbelief, has now been replaced by the resolve to actively engage in the process of healing. Jamaicans from all across the financial and social divide committed themselves and their resources to the healing and redevelopment processes now underway. That is the silver lining!

Dears, the rich and the very poor, old and young, infirm and able-bodied have spoken and stepped outside of their own personal trials and tribulations to embrace the Haitians in this, their hour of need. And dears, in the tears shed, came the joy that the stories being told that Jamaica was no longer a caring place, but was one transformed into a heartless and unfeeling society, were only intended to advance some personal agenda, while ignoring the true character of the people!

Dears, we are saddled with many woes but, lest we be blinded by naysayers and the self-important, the Haitian catastrophe has served to remind us that the essence of being our brothers' keepers, is still alive and well in the Jamaican people.

That spirit was exemplified on Wednesday evening when the Rotary Club of Trafalgar New Heights hosted a walk-a-thon, culminating with a candle-light vigil at the Emancipa-tion Park, New Kingston. To positively influence the disaster relief in that country, rotarians and their extended families and friends poured into Emancipation Park to vigil, raise funds and donate to the Haitian cause. It was a most beautiful outing!

Jamaicans from all divisions of life joined the rotarians in their walk and, later, in a candle-light vigil. Rev Al Miller invoked prayers and Ity and Fancy Cat, encouraged guests to forgo their usual pleasures in lieu of making a donation to benefit the victims of the Haitian earthquake. That was truly a very rich outing!

Left: Tayana Henry, president of the Trafalgar New Heights Rotary Club, has Errol Aberga in stitches. Right: Well, the candle went out so mom Juliet Patterson came to the rescue and relit it.

Massive support

Dears, we are talking the embodiment of the Jamaican character. Everyone joined forces to support Haiti. We saw Michael-Anthony Cuffe broadcasting live from the event, and personalities such as attorney Deika Morrison; Tayana Henry of the Rotary Club of Trafalgar New Heights; District Governor Errol Alberga, of Rotary District 7020; assistant governor Dennis Chong, also of Rotary District 7020; Kerry Magnus; Miss Jamaica World, the lovely Kerrie Bayliss; her predecessors Imani Duncan and Terri-Karrelle Reid; UNDP's Sonia Gill; Kelly-Anne Boyne; Seitu Foster; Chris Reckord; Alison Peart; Rev Al Miller; Dr Wendel Abel; Heather Grant of RJR, who compéred; Fabian Brown; and Patricia Sinclair, human resources support and administration manager for Scotia DBG Investments Limited ... they were all there buttressing the national, regional and international efforts of telecommunications conglomerate Digicel, along with the Government and people of Jamaica, through individual and nationally-coordinated efforts. Groups such as Jamaica Red Cross, United Way of Jamaica, Food For The Poor, SuperClubs, Guardsman Group, Couples Resorts, Sandals Foundation, National Commercial Bank, Scotia Bank, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, RJR Communications Group and CVM Television, alongside the community of Maverly and scores of financially-strapped individuals, took time out to donate.

The larger number of individuals, who remain nameless, have donated and continue to donate to the relief effort. Special credit to Digicel for leading the way in this regard! The outpouring of support, concern and volunteerism so imprinted itself on one's consciousness ... I am proud to be a Jamaican.

A beautiful bunch (from left) Imani Duncan (Miss Jamaica World 1995) has the full attention of Kerrie Baylis (Miss Jamaica World 2009); attorney Deika Morrison and Terri-Karelle Reid (Miss Jamaica World 2005).

Ity and Fancy Cat had the patrons in stitches. From left: Jill Chambers, Karl Miller and Beverly Miller could not restrain themselves.