Making the diaspora count
ID: INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE
AS a child of the '80s I vividly recall the song Action, not a bag a mout, and know that many of my fellow Jamaicans feel that too many of us, both inside and outside Jamaica, talk more than act.
A close friend remarked that she participated in the recent march for child rights but the turnout was low and that lots of uptown people love to talk but don't take action when the time comes. That seems to be true, but I also do not fault Jamaicans who feel the same way about the diaspora as a whole. There is no question that many individuals and a few organisations abroad are undoubtedly doing good work and the evidence is plentiful although not consistently in the media. However, as a collective we seem to talk more than we act.
As part of the Future Leaders Conference a few years ago we incorporated a day of service so that all our delegates would be able to actually do something and not just sit in sessions. One complaint I have seen is that islandwide projects run by transparent organisations already getting some local support are not plentiful. Transparency is critical to anyone who wants to donate money, islandwide projects are important for impact, and local support lends credibility.
This is why I chose to throw my support behind Crayons Count, the initiative launched by Do Good Jamaica and the brainchild of Deika Morrison. Some may call me naive, but I truly believe that the Jamaican diaspora as a collective would contribute to a cause such as early childhood education if the right vehicle existed.
My choice is to use crowd-funding (the process of raising money online via small donations from individuals) due to my success in raising money last year for a personal film on the Jamaican railroad and its connection to my family which is now being edited. In the same way that I created ChangeJamaica.org as an outlet for ideas to be posted, shared and voted on, I have set up www.indiegogo.com/crayonscount to raise money specifically to give some 2,700 early childhood centres in Jamaica access to learning kits for children.
There has been much talk in the diaspora about supporting education in Jamaica, about reducing crime so that people feel more comfortable visiting or returning to live, and also about our low pass rates at the secondary level.
It starts at the early childhood level and in this 50th year of Independence I feel that we have a unique chance to impact Jamaica for the next 50 years by helping an entire generation have a better educational foundation. That can only help to reduce crime and improve educational outcomes later on.
I am certain that I am not the only Jamaican who is tired of talk from all over and wants to see action. That is why I chose to support Crayons Count and prove that some of us do care enough to take action.
When Deika asked me to help her break the Guinness World Record for most books donated to charity in seven days I jumped at it, even though many people thought we were crazy. We broke the record on day one!
Now we are trying to raise US$25,000 in the month of May via crowd-funding and I will do my best to help us achieve and surpass that goal. This is one of those rare projects where I am willing to put my reputation on the line and reach out to everyone in my network because I know the good that we can accomplish when we work together as one big team.
Jamaica is not a country of three million, it is a nation of seven million people and we simply do not unite often enough. As a child going to school in Jamaica I remember regularly pledging the love and loyalty of my heart in the service of my fellow citizens. I remember promising to work diligently and creatively, to think generously and honestly. Back then, they were just words, but as I got older those words morphed into something bigger.
Let us use opportunities like this to show what that pledge means to us as Jamaicans and to make the diaspora count.
David Mullings was the first Future Leaders representative for the USA on the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board. He can be found on Twitter at twitter.com/davidmullings and Facebook at facebook.com/InteractiveDialogue