SENATOR Kamina Johnson Smith, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, announced yesterday that 100 care packages and more than 150 suitcases containing personal items will be collected from the ministry for shipment to Jamaican students studying in Cuba.
“We are most grateful to our corporate partners — GraceKennedy and Seprod Foundation and to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service — for their kind assistance with this initiative. I also thank my hard-working team at the ministry, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in pulling these arrangements together, as well as the parents, family members and student volunteers who assisted the ministry's team to sort and pack the care packages,” Minister Johnson Smith said in a press release..
“The packages were assembled based on a needs list provided by students and include basic food items, toiletries, sanitary products, non-prescription medication and personal protective equipment such as masks, hand sanitisers and rubbing alcohol.”
The ministry's one-off assistance to students has materialised, through consultations, including virtual meetings with the minister, the diaspora, protocol and Consular Affairs Division within the ministry, the Jamaican Embassy in Cuba, parents, and student representatives — some in Cuba and some in Jamaica.
Minister Johnson Smith has also expressed appreciation to the Cuban Government for its “overall generosity and commitment in relation to the scholarship programme, as well as recently announced importation procedures which will help to alleviate some of the challenges faced by students as a result of the pandemic, including the treatment of the shipment about to be sent”.
In citing the impact of the pandemic on the ministry, the minister noted that “the pandemic has presented new challenges to deal with, including the scope of care requested and available for Jamaicans abroad in distress. Needs have far exceeded our resources — both human and financial — but we have always done our best to support, with partnerships, where possible. Given our undeniable constraints and the location of Jamaicans in all corners of the Earth, it was therefore important for us to also encourage students and parents to consider all the options available to them in their academic pursuits, and to have family discussions regarding their resilience and coping skills should they elect to return to Cuba at this time.
''We continue to wish them all the very best in their studies and look forward to improved conditions in Cuba and indeed the world,” said the foreign minister.