Preamble: This trip was not an intended vacation.
It’s difficult to discuss such a beautiful island such as Jamaica without discussing the country’s economic, political and social situations. Everyone associates Jamaica with relaxing, fun and exciting because of its gorgeous beaches, amazing food, crazy parties and festivals, and other ‘indulgences.’ But the reality for its people and mine that I adopt while there, is quite a different scenario.
The truth is that Jamaica is quite a duality. And I realize that every developing nation has its flaws and weaknesses, and even developed nations have their fair share of corruption and debauchery. But when a country and its people have abandoned a sense of hope, and a vision for the future – that’s a different story altogether.
Jamaica IS a beautiful country with an abundance of talent, and obvious potential – but also has a very sad, dark side. The poverty, corruption, extortion, desperation, violence, and the imbalanced distribution of wealth, is just the tip of the iceberg. This insane ‘way of life,’ systematically suppresses its people and the reason why most seek a brighter future elsewhere.
I know it takes time for a country to develop – but exactly how long? How long do those at the top get, to steal every last dollar and leave their people behind? I’ve gone back numerous times in my life, and it’s quite sad to see such a lovely country with a wealth of creativity and beauty, be in the state it is today.
To put it simply, by my eloquent mother: “Coming here just brings on vexation & heartache.” And it’s true. The entire situation first leaves you angry, and it leaves you sad and helpless.
However, despite the obvious struggles, angst and anxiety that one has to endure while there, I managed to have some good moments with my chosen family. That is, I made sure that despite the insanity – I injected my own version of ‘normalcy’ into the mix. And that’s the only way to survive – is to create your own world within the madness. So I kept a low profile, had my fish & festival by the sea, did my own thing with my friends and family, and came home with a new sense of purpose and hope.
And so because I don’t think one can talk about a country with such candor, without offering a way out – I’m going to attempt to provide one. Out of this experience, I’ve resigned myself to a new Philanthropic project, which is a Foundation, that I hope will benefit those who are creative and want to do better for themselves, who have the talent and see themselves rising above it, and for those who like me, do see a brighter future.