JNA & POGS: Jamaican Diaspora Organizations contributing to nation building
Ambassador Curtis Ward
(April 15, 2019) — I recently sat down as a Host of CaribNation TV with leaders of two small Jamaican Diaspora organizations operating in the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia) area to talk about their work in the Jamaican communities in the United States and in Jamaica. These two small organizations, the Jamaican Nationals Association (Washington DC) (JNA) and Partners of Good Shepherd Jamaica (POGS)are among the hundreds, perhaps thousands of Jamaican Diaspora organizations impacting the lives of tens of thousands of Jamaicans in the Homeland and in the Diaspora.
The work of most Diaspora organizations are seldom reported in the media and their impact are never measured except by those who receive their help and support. Very little is heard of their work. CaribNation TV hopes to shed a flicker of light on their value to our societies by highlighting the work of Jamaican Diaspora organizations, not only of the big headliners but those with big hearts. Sometimes the ‘widow’s mite’ makes a big difference.
JNA celebrates 50 years since it was launched by a group of Jamaican students in 1969 on the campus of Howard University and, while POGS has only been around for seven years, each of these organizations has made its own impact.
The time for the interviews were limited to about 14 minutes each so we didn’t have enough time to get into some of the things they do and the impact of their work. For example, JNA recently started a partnership of support with the Jamaica Cancer Society Branches in St. Ann and St. Mary; and participates in social services in Silver Spring, Maryland to help the homeless and people of need by providing basic social services, including meals, medical support, clothing, and other social services, as well as providing volunteers to serve lunch in the “soup kitchen”.
Both organizations provide scholarships to Jamaican tertiary students – JNA in the DMV area, and POGS in Jamaica.
In addition to the $70,000 US dollars contributed to Jamaican charities directly by POGS over the past six years, the President of POGS herself inspired and participates in mission trips to Jamaica by her church, St. Andrew Apostolic Catholic Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, led by the Rev. Daniel Leary, to build houses at Jacob’s Ladder, a Mustard Seed community in Moneague , St. Ann. The St. Andrew Church makes up to four Mission trips each year to Jamaica and has so far built four houses with each accommodating 12 residents. They plan on building several more. Also, the St. Andrew Mission has helped to empower the residents of Jacob’s Ladder, by providing accessible well water and technical assistance to grow food to help feed themselves. POGS on its own will be financing and building one of these homes at Jacob’s Ladder.
As the Government of Jamaica rolls out its National Diaspora Policy it is important to take note of the work of the thousands of Jamaican Diaspora organizations and their impact on the lives of Jamaicans at home and abroad.
Please take time to watch the video, visit their websites and support the work of these and other organizations impacting the lives of Jamaicans. (JNA’s website: https://jnaofdc.org/ and POGS’ website: https://www.partnersofgoodshepherd.org/ )