Christmas in Kingston, Jamaica: Ten Reasons To Be Cheerful (And There Are More)

Somehow I am not feeling what people call “the Christmas Spirit,” apart from some Christmas lights and talk of sorrel, pudding and the like. I need to tap into it some more. In fact, it may be my imagination, but people seem a little stressed out this year, for various reasons. Crime (and I am not just talking about the horrible murders) seems to have made people a little edgy and miserable. I heard how a lot of phones were stolen from a booth at a large conference, for example. Someone’s beloved dog was killed by a neighbors dog. Schoolchildren are behaving wildly in public places; and I mean wildly. Bullying seems to be rampant in our schools – even at a posh uptown high school. Road casualties are too high, and still rising. Jamaica’s political hacks refuse to take a break, on social media and elsewhere. And we have the horrible New Year prospect of a President Trump looming over us, albeit at a distance (I am shutting out U.S. news, these days). Nevertheless, many Jamaicans are putting a brave face on things, driving around in cars with antlers on! People are starting to get in the mood.

So, time for some Christmas cheer – and giving thanks! I am using this post to “big up” all those who are (and have been) doing wonderful things of late – in no particular order of wonderfulness. Actually, these people never stop doing great things. Here goes…

David Mair, Executive Director, Food for the Poor Jamaica feeds Jasmine McKay, a resident of the Golden Age Home during the Christmas treat hosted by his organization on December 8. Mishka Townsend-Brown, Assistant General Manager of the Golden Age Home is at left. (Photo: ProComm)
David Mair, Executive Director, Food for the Poor Jamaica feeds Jasmine McKay, a resident of the Golden Age Home during the Christmas treat hosted by his organization on December 8. Mishka Townsend-Brown, Assistant General Manager of the Golden Age Home is at left. (Photo: ProComm)

Food for the Poor have, as usual, been doing great work all through the year. Yesterday, for example, they held a Christmas treat for 200 senior citizens at the Golden Age Home in Vineyard Town, Kingston. By the way, if you are looking for a place to volunteer, the home is a good place to start. The residents get bored, and lonely; they just love to sit down and chat. Handouts, gifts and treats are not even necessary; I think just having your company to talk to, even for a few minutes, is hugely appreciated.

WE-Change is continuing the dialogue and seeking solutions beyond the "Orange The World" 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women.
WE-Change is continuing the dialogue and seeking solutions beyond the “Orange The World” 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women.

WE-Change (the LBT arm of J-FLAG) have been doing some amazing work recently that is really empowering not only the LBT community but many Jamaican women. Huge kudos to them. With the hashtags #SaveHerLife and #Beyond16Days the group and its growing number of allies and supporters has been seeking solutions to the problem of violence against women – in particular, intimate partner violence, which has been much in the news. Along with Head of Corporate Communications at the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay – also doing an excellent job in this role, by the way – they have put together some very sensible, useful advice on how to prevent (and resolve) conflicts over Christmas, here. Do read and share. WE-Change is also currently doing a toiletries drive for pregnant young women at Mary’s Place.

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Damien Williams is such an amazing young man that I don’t even know where to start – but I will be writing more about him and about the USAID-funded BRACED program that he works with, specifically in the neighborhood of Naggo Head. But that is only part of Damien’s awesomeness. He serves Jamaicans in so many ways. On Saturday he will be hosting a Christmas treat, with lots of good music, for the children of the Stony Hill SOS Village (from 1 to 5 pm, if you have time to drop by). Oh yes, Damien sings!

A display by Bartley's All in Wood at the annual Potters Fair in Kingston - including original designs by Lacy-Ann Bartley. (Photo: Marcia Forbes/Twitter)
A display by Bartley’s All in Wood at the annual Potters Fair in Kingston – including original designs by Lacy-Ann Bartley. (Photo: Marcia Forbes/Twitter)

Art and Craft Fairs in Kingston have been booming. The Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) and a number of amazing artisans and craftsmen/women have been selling their wares. Most are over now, but they are always a delight and an opportunity to do a bit of socializing.

Politicians are out and about doing their stuff. Here is Member of Parliament Marlene Malahoo Forte visiting a "shut-in" (as Jamaicans call seniors, the sick and people with disabilities, who cannot leave the house) in her volatile constituency of West Central St. James. (Photo: Twitter)
Politicians are out and about doing their stuff. Here is Member of Parliament Marlene Malahoo Forte visiting a “shut-in” (as Jamaicans call seniors, the sick and people with disabilities, who cannot leave the house) in her volatile constituency of West Central St. James. (Photo: Twitter)

Service Clubs have been very busy too. The Kiwanis Club of New Kingston, for example, recently donated children’s clothes and supplies for a relief drive for communities in eastern Portland badly affected by last month’s rains to Ann-Marie Vaz’s One Jamaica Foundation. She has been collecting diligently for the people in this area for some time now, to help them get back on their feet.

Ann-Marie Vaz (2nd right) and members of the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston with clothing donated for the children of deep rural East Portland, badly hit by recent floods. (Photo: Twitter)
Ann-Marie Vaz (2nd right) and members of the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston with clothing donated for the children of deep rural eastern Portland, an area badly hit by recent floods. (Photo: Twitter)

 

Then there are the shoppers! This photo shows a popular Kingston store crammed with buyers. This is the outside - the inside was jam-packed. Last year, there were fights over their much sought-after Christmas cakes! (Photo: Twitter)
Then there are the shoppers! This photo shows a popular Kingston store crammed with buyers. This is the outside – the inside was jam-packed. Last year, there were fights over their much sought-after Christmas cakes! (Photo: Twitter)

Digicel Foundation has been running up and down donating stuff this Christmas – they just never stop! While I am at it, I must “big up” Dane Richardson, who is the Foundation’s new Director of Operations. I am sure Dane and team will continue their highly focused program work, which is really reaping benefits for citizens most in need…

The Digicel Foundation (Chair Jean Lowrie-Chin in red, Dane Richardson on the far right and fab Krystal Tomlinson, Public Relations Manager on the far left) donated beds and other supplies to the
The Digicel Foundation (Chair Jean Lowrie-Chin in red, Dane Richardson, far right and Krystal Tomlinson, Public Relations Manager, far left) donated beds and other supplies to the Open Arms Drop In Centre for the homeless on Windward Road, Kingston.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least…the partygoers: Below is a photo from Diplo’s recent Major Lazer show, but there are parties, shows and dances to suit all tastes. Besides Kingston’s “all-inclusive” parties (at inflated prices – I’ve heard of one with a J$12,000 price tag!) there will of course be celebrations large and small in homes and communities across the island. Much sorrel will be drunk, and spicy Christmas ham consumed. Not to mention cake!

LA-based, Grammy winning DJ, rapper, producer etc. Diplo posted several photos from his regular Christmas trip to Jamaica on Twitter the other day. Electronic dance music has a certain following (and he mixes it up with dancehall, reggae etc - the project is called Major Lazer), and this is a great photo depicting Jamaican youth culture.
LA-based, Grammy winning DJ, rapper, producer etc. Diplo posted several photos from his regular Christmas trip to Jamaica on Twitter the other day. Electronic dance music has a certain following (and he mixes it up with dancehall, reggae etc – the project is called Major Lazer). This is a great photo depicting Jamaican youth culture.
Novelette Grant will take over as Acting Commissioner of Police on January 7, the day after the current Commissioner Carl Williams goes into retirement. (Photo: Gleaner)
Novelette Grant will take over as Acting Commissioner of Police on January 7, the day after the current Commissioner Carl Williams goes into retirement. (Photo: Gleaner)

PS. I have to congratulate Deputy Commissioner of Police Novelette Grant, who will take over the reins as Acting Commissioner on January 7, 2017. Commissioner Carl Williams announced just today that he would be stepping down – a not altogether surprising development, perhaps. I do know that DCP Grant is smart, down to earth and has thorough insights into many of Jamaica’s social problems and the root causes of crime. She is also a firm believer in community policing. I think she would do an excellent job if appointed as Commissioner eventually (she would be the first woman in this position).

 


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