'Hold on to hope,' Digicel urges Musgrave Market vendors
Musgrave Market vendor Jolene, who has set up shop along West Street, sells fresh produce to head of corporate affairs and communications at Digicel Elon Parkinson during his recent visit to Portland. (Photo: Rahyme Mckenzie)

Communications giant Digicel is encouraging the more than 200 vendors, farmers, and their families affected by the May 28 fire that razed Musgrave Market in Portland to remain hopeful and look forward to better days.

The company extended the words of motivation after donating $5 million toward restoration of the market, joining other corporate entities, including Sandals Resorts International and National Commercial Bank as one of the early responders to the plight of the Portland people.

"The word from us is, 'Hold on to hope,' " a release from Digicel quotes Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications Elon Parkinson. "We are committed to doing all that we can to help the vendors and their families to get back on their feet again, including helping them stay connected with loved ones, especially during these times."

Clean-up and restoration crews are making significant progress, while vendors are being relocated to safe zones in and around the market. Vending is already taking place in alternative areas as the bustling town on Jamaica's north-eastern coast regains its liveliness.

Last week, Portland Eastern Member of Parliament Ann-Marie Vaz said that the Ministry of Local Government has earmarked $10 million for the immediate clean-up of the market.

She also said that her foundation had received $30 million in contributions from various private sector companies and individuals for the rebuilding process.

"Each of the 200 vendors will be given a cheque for $100,000 next week to help rebuild their lives. Out of adversity comes opportunity. I am going to ensure that this is the opportunity that all the vendors wanted and needed," she added.

In the meantime, Digicel is urging everyone to support the vendors.

"Portland is a favourite chill spot for many Jamaicans who come here to relax and recharge. While they do, we are encouraging visitors to stop by the market and surrounding areas to buy fresh produce, handcrafted items, and clothing from any of the vendors. Your support will go a far way with helping to restore the lives and families of all those affected," Parkinson said.

The company is also urging more private sector entities to pitch in and donate towards rebuilding the market.

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