To all Jamaicans, and Jamaican extended family and friends: We Need Your Help!
On Thursday the 28th of July, 32 Jamaican Seasonal Farm Workers in Brant County, Ontario, experienced the living nightmare of watching the bunkhouse with all their belongings consumed in flames. Lost in the inferno at Chary Farms, was all their meager possessions including: clothing, toiletries, bedding, pots and pans, food, as well as passports, immigration papers, money, and personal items such as wedding rings.
They were left with just the clothes on their backs.
We can all imagine the devastating impact of such a tragedy. The hard working farm workers have families waiting every week for the dollars they are able to send through Western Union. They had a four-by-four container packed with goods, clothing, power tools, bags of rice, flour, and non-perishable foods they had purchased to send home to their families, and it’s all gone. They are now forced to start over from scratch.
Several of the workers are struggling to cope with the trauma of the fire, and just want to return home to Jamaica. But until their ID and passports are replaced, this is not possible.
The local community has been very generous in coming to the aid of our Jamaican brothers, many who have been coming to that community for seasonal work for over a decade. The local Salvation Army opened its thrift shop to the workers that Friday to allow them to get some immediate necessities, such as change of clothes, and pots and pans for cooking. The Salvation Army is acting as a local drop-off point for donations of goods for the men.
The Chary farming family have temporarily set up many of the workers in motels and are working with farming neighbours to use other bunkhouses that aren’t occupied. But inspections have to be conducted on these facilities prior to being occupied by the men.
The morning of August 7th, (fittingly the day after Jamaica’s Independence Day), Jamaican Canadian Association President Adaoma Patterson, headed to Chary Farms in Brant County along with JCA Director of Communications Alton Brooks, Director-at-Large Yolande Davidson, past presidents Audrey Campbell, Herman Stewart and Roy Williams, as well as members Grace Williams and Andrea Jarrett.
The JCA team brought along donations they had collected for the farm workers, from community members, as well as the general community including generous donations from Sai Dham Food Bank in Malton, which provided more than 20 bags of rice, flour and other essential food items. The generosity of these individuals in the broader community, as well as that of the Jamaican-Canadian community, exemplifies the theme of this year’s Jamaica Independence celebrations: ‘Stronger Together forever.’
But our work supporting the farm workers is far from complete.
The Immediate Needs
We are seeking donations to purchase gift cards of various denominations to give directly to the workers so they can purchase items to replace what they lost, and for other immediate needs. We don’t want them to return to Jamaica empty handed after being in Canada for most of the year and then losing everything they bought and saved for.
How You Can Help
As the old Jamaican expression goes: “One, one cocoa fill basket.” Meaning any donation you choose to make will have a positive impact. Your donation, small or large, will go a long way to help to assuage the terrible impact of this tragedy, and to put a comforting arm around our Jamaican brothers in need.
To make your donation please send an interac money transfer via online banking to firstname.lastname@example.org using the password farmworkers
Via Credit Card / Cheque / Cash / Mail
You can drop off payment at the JCA
Please reference attention FARMWORKERS when making payment to make sure it goes where intended.
Phone : 416.746.5772
Address : 995 Arrow Road, Toronto, Ontario M9M 2Z5
“The JCA was saddened to learn about the recent fire that resulted in the farm workers losing their housing and personal belongings. As is customary for our JCA family and the larger community, we rallied and collected food we know they need. I am always heartened to see how quickly the community mobilizes during difficult times. We will continue to support the workers by providing funds to cover passport replacement and other personal items. JCA recently celebrated its 54th anniversary and Jamaica’s independence. Our theme was Stronger Together Forever. The recent efforts of our members exemplify this theme.” – JCA President, Adaoma Patterson
Out of Many, One People.