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The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) has joined the national effort to provide assistance to Haiti, following the devastation caused by a massive earthquake, which struck the southern section of that island on Tuesday, January 12.
Chief Executive Officer Mrs. Donna-Marie Rowe, is urging Jamaicans to support the cause, by making their contribution to the agency’s collection drive, which begins today (Jan. 15).
“The Kingston office, as well as the regional offices in Ocho Rios St. Ann, Montego Bay St. James, Port Antonio Portland and Mandeville Manchester will become collection centres. We are encouraging persons in and around the communities to take in bottled water, canned food and other non-perishables. We will then forward it to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, which has a system in place to get the supplies to Haiti,” she explained.
The JIS Kingston offices are located at 58a Half-WayTree Road (head office); and 37 Arnold Road (Television department). Donations are being accepted Mondays to Thursdays from 8:30 a.m to 5:00 p.m., and on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Mrs. Rowe noted that the initiative was proposed by Anna-Kaye Thompson and Marsha McKenzie, two members of staff of the JIS Television Department, who volunteered to spearhead the efforts and mobilise support.
“Together, as an agency, we are going to work on the publicity in addition to working in partnership with other media houses, to ensure that we get all the support we can from everybody. We see the disaster, the trauma, the shock, and we want to do our part to help,” the CEO stated.
Mrs. Rowe said she was heartened by the outpouring of sympathy, love and support from Jamaicans, as well as other countries in the region, and the international community.
“It really causes us (Jamaicans) to see that even though we are going through our own economic challenges, and socially as well as it relates to crime and violence, that here it is that another country very near to us is experiencing that much more,” she noted further.
She said the fact that so many Jamaicans had rallied around Haiti over the past three days shows that despite the negatives, persons could still find the compassion and inspiration to make a difference in the lives of their Caribbean neighbours.
The CEO added that the disaster brought into sharp focus, the importance of the earthquake awareness education campaign that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) launches each year at this time. “Because of our building codes, we may stand a better chance of not being devastated, but then, no one really knows, because that was a 7.0 earthquake,” she noted.
Mrs. Rowe said the JIS would continue to play its part as the Government’s information agency, to heighten awareness about preparing for any such disaster. “We will be trying to ensure that we heighten the level of coverage, and we are going to ensure that persons are kept abreast as to the developments in Haiti,” she said.
Meanwhile, Manager of JIS Television, Stacy-Ann Smith said her department has been closely monitoring the events in Haiti. “People were just heartbroken. It’s been so very hard to watch the pain and suffering of the people of Haiti. Many people are of the impression that it could have been us. On Tuesday when it happened, many people here felt the quake. What it has brought home to us is how close we are to our Haitian neighbours,” she stated.
Mrs. Smith said staff therefore decided to turn their sorrow and sympathy into positive action.
“A couple of staff members said ‘why don’t we join the effort to do something, rather than just sitting and feeling distressed and depressed, let us get busy, let us do something’, and in doing so, we have already begun to feel as if we are not helpless, so the idea is for us to, as a family, begin to collect what we can,” she explained.
In a joint email to colleagues, Miss Thompson and Miss McKenzie stated that the initiative was “a wonderful opportunity to help our brothers and sisters just 300 miles away”.
“We could have been in the same position. I am begging all Jamaicans to come out and help in this relief effort and also to take heed, and just try and let us all unite, as a nation, and also together to help the Haitians,” said Miss Thompson.
Miss McKenzie, for her part said that “this is something that we should all come together and support, because they are so in need. People are so devastated right now, and as Anna-Kaye said, as a nation, we should all unite. We should just look and see that it could be us”.
Persons are being encouraged to contribute, in addition to non-perishable food items, bedding, clothing, toiletries, diapers and other necessaries.

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