Great Support Expected for Diaspora Day of Service

Photo: JIS Photographer Project Director of ‘Fi Wi Jamaica’, Professor Rosalea Hamilton, speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ in Montego Bay on November 21. She said positive results are expected from interventions the project will make during its week of activities currently on across the parish of St. James.

Story Highlights

  • The Diaspora Day of Service slated for Thursday, July 27 is expected to garner even greater support this year.
  • The Day of Service was formally incorporated two years ago at the 6th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference and serves to formalise activities normally undertaken in the days following the staging of previous conferences, where members and organisations from the diaspora would execute humanitarian and community projects across Jamaica.
  • The projects for this year’s Diaspora Day of Service include focus on empowering young girls who have been sexually abused, youth entrepreneurship, robotics, agriculture, health services and crime.

The Diaspora Day of Service slated for Thursday, July 27 is expected to garner even greater support this year.

The Day of Service was formally incorporated two years ago at the 6th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference and serves to formalise activities normally undertaken in the days following the staging of previous conferences, where members and organisations from the diaspora would execute humanitarian and community projects across Jamaica.

It is generally a time of great anticipation and excitement for the communities and institutions which benefit from the projects, as well as for those returning to share their service, skills, time and resources with the people.

Chair of the Subcommittee, Professor Rosalea Hamilton, in an interview with JIS News, says some 30 projects are anticipated for the Day of Service.

“This is just a great day in which the diaspora demonstrates its ongoing willingness to give back and to provide the kind of service that Jamaica needs in order to achieve our development objectives,” she says.

Projects typically fall under one of four categories – education, health, youth, and community development.

“It’s of tremendous value, because this service addresses a range of needs that exist. We are able to benefit from the remarkable pool of expertise and talents that exist across the world, and, of course, the global experiences that they bring certainly help to position Jamaica in a better place in the global market,” Professor Hamilton says.

“So, it’s not just social benefits, but there are important economic benefits, as well, that we derive from these interventions,” she adds.

The projects for this year’s Diaspora Day of Service include focus on empowering young girls who have been sexually abused, youth entrepreneurship, robotics, agriculture, health services and crime.

“In general, the projects that have had immediate impact are the health-related projects, because when people are in pain or in need of certain health benefits that they can’t afford to get… especially in rural communities… those projects will be of immediate benefit to them,” she says.

Professor Hamilton cites the value of educational projects implemented by members of the diaspora, which have been found to be empowering and motivational, sometimes providing global opportunities for beneficiaries.

There was a 140 per cent increase in projects in 2015, with 11 diaspora organisations registering for projects. Some 200 persons participated in 19 projects across eight parishes.

Groups that participated in the initiative in 2015 included the Jamaica Diaspora Canada Foundation, which hosted a health fair in Bull Bay, St. Thomas, and provided a facelift and general repairs to the Catherine Hall Clinic in St. James.

The Jamaican Diaspora Health Sector also gave of its time and resources, facilitating health screening at medical clinics in Hanover and St. James.

Other initiatives included free legal consultation by the Jamaican-American Bar Association; and a donation of information and communications technology (ICT) material by Youth Organisation Undertaking National Growth (Y.O.U.N.G).

“We expect that the diaspora will continue to provide the outstanding service that they show to Jamaicans (at this year’s staging),” Professor Hamilton says.

She urges members of the diaspora and diaspora organisations to register projects as soon as possible. Despite the June 15 deadline, she says the Subcommittee will continue to accept requests for registration until the end of the month.

Registration allows the local team to provide the relevant support in executing activities for the day. This support includes facilitation with customs clearance of imports, certification of medical practitioners, addressing security and safety concerns, identification and registration of additional volunteers as well as public-relations support.

Local partners in the hosting of Diaspora Day of Service include the Social Development Commission (SDC), which will also be collaborating on a series of community-based projects.

Other entities represented on the Subcommittee are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, which is organising the conference; the Jamaica Diaspora Institute; the Jamaica Customs Agency; the Ministry of Health; Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; National Education Trust; the Jamaica Constabulary Force; and the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches.

The day is one of the activities for the upcoming ‘Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference’, which will be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, under the theme ‘Partnering for Growth’.

The conference’s schedule includes church services to launch the week; the Governor-General’s Achievement Awards to recognise Jamaicans for outstanding service in their communities of residence overseas; a conference dialogue to facilitate an exchange of views and ideas on building a better and prosperous nation; a marketplace exposition to highlight the best of Jamaica’s culture and entertainment; a one-stop Government at Your Service facility; and a youth forum that engages second-, third- and fourth-generation diaspora members.

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