As we know, at any one time there are many thousands of Jamaicans living or staying temporarily in the United States. I believe around one third of Jamaican immigrants to the U.S. (who total close to one million) live in New York, and about one quarter in Florida. But there are also thousands of seasonal workers, who may feel very insecure during this period of COVID-19. I hope that this digital town hall (Part 1) – on Zoom on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. EST – will help to answer some questions and concerns.
I am sharing below a comforting message from Ambassador Audrey Marks, who represents Jamaica in the United States. Please share with any Jamaicans you know who are living in the U.S., and also share the information on tomorrow’s digital town hall.
From the Desk of Audrey Marks, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the USA
Good morning friends. Thank you all for your support of my appeal. I want to express my deepest respect and appreciation for all our people #onejamaica.
Jamaica has been blessed with talented, caring and resilient people who have had a tremendous impact on the world in big ways and in quiet ways. One group that is making an impact in quiet ways is our seasonal workers. Thousands of teachers, nurses, hospitality workers, and of course our well-known farmworkers. Our workers have been our ambassadors for the last 100 years displaying a reliable work ethic and cheerful disposition to the world. As a result, Jamaican workers are always in demand.
I realized yesterday that some of our seasonal workers genuinely feel abandoned, scared and alone… worried about costs to stay in the USA without their work and also worried about being out of status with their work visas, hence the rush to return home by any means possible. So I want to take this opportunity to give an assurance that you are not alone, the Rock is ‘under lock down’ but we have your back and will address these concerns.
The Government of Jamaica through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has mandated a strong consular support system at the Embassy, the Consulates and nation-wide Honorary Consuls. This network is blessed to be supported by another quiet group of Jamaicans who have made other countries their home but always carry the Rock in their hearts. They are the most committed Diaspora in the world. Here in the USA we have an army of organizations over 400 strong under the NAJASO umbrella, over 200 Jamaica Support Missions, the experienced members of the former Jamaica Diaspora Northeast Advisory Board, the Jamaica Diaspora Taskforce Action Network – JDTAN, the new and energetic Global Jamaica Diaspora representatives and the hard-working honorary diaspora organization, The American Friends of Jamaica, Inc.
I have been overwhelmed with pride and gratitude for our diaspora, especially during the last two weeks since this crisis has started to unfold in Jamaica. Even with adverse personal impact right here in the USA, I see an army rising to source thousands of masks, gloves, ventilators and volunteer their properties as quarantine centers. Over the past few days immediate assistance was given at airports and in opening homes. With this army of support ‘we are pressed from all sides but not crushed’.
So I want to assure the Seasonal Workers in the USA who have responded to my appeal to stay on property but have expressed in their posts, critical needs, that we will contact you. All our phone numbers have been forwarded to our mobile phones and are being answered. Whether you are in NY or a small community in Utah, we have a support system in place.
Always remember that you are not aliens, you are Jamaicans – a people blessed and highly favored so stay strong. As Koffee reminds us “Gratitude is a must, yeah… Me see blessings fall by mi right hand… Buss a toast fi di friends weh tek off heavy load” #onejamaica.
Please share this contact information with any Seasonal Worker in need:
Embassy in Washington DC
CALL: (202) 452-0660
New York Consulate
CALL: (212) 935-1000
TEXT: (786) 588-9639; (754) 800-8421; (954)613-9439; (954) 919-5392
CALL: (305) 374-8431
EMAIL: email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com