Jamaica’s consul general in Miami, Oliver Mair, has embarked on a fundraising drive to support the delivery of online learning on the island.
Mair hosted a Christmas concert and telethon, themed ‘Mek di pickney dem smile’, on December 20, with the aim of raising funds to purchase tablets, laptops, and other digital devices for needy students to aid in the delivery of online learning programmes, which have become the primary mode of education delivery amid COVID-19 restrictions and social-distancing protocols mandated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“Our goal is to raise US$50,000 to purchase the electronic devices in Jamaica, in order to acquire the specific equipment that works best for the Jamaican virtual learning experience,” Mair said.
The three-hour entertainment package featured live and recorded performances from both international and local-based artistes, including renowned reggae veterans Freddie McGregor, Marcia Griffiths, Junior ‘One Blood’ Reid, and Mikey Spice, as well as Kashief Lindo. Viewers also enjoyed Christmas musical specials from Jamaica’s musical giant Michael Harris; dub poet Malachi Smith; opera and classical singer Rory Baugh; tenor Steve Higgins; and the Tallawah Mento Band.
During the live-streamed event, the Jamaican consul general appealed to patrons, including charitable groups, the business community, and individuals across the diaspora to support the ongoing fundraising effort with their donations.
He also expressed appreciation to several alumni chapters in the diaspora that have already responded to the cause through donations of equipment as well as cash to their individual alma mater.
The staging of the fundraiser in Miami was in direct response to a call for support by Education Minister Fayval Williams, who, in October, launched an initiative dubbed ‘A Device for Every Child – Bridging the Digital Divide’.
According to the minister, the initiative is part of the Government’s commitment to provide quality education to every student by ensuring that no child is left behind as a result of the unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID pandemic.