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On the 24th February as we made our way to Le Vaudois in Lausanne, we were wondering if we had betrayed our beloved green gold and black flag by venturing out for a social event in the mid-winter. Our natural “keep warm at any cost” mental state was fighting the adventurous nature in us. However, the thought of sharing time and laughter with our fellow Jamaicans kept us going.
We arrived at Place de la Riponne, and saw the welcoming green awning of Le Vaudois calling out to us from across the street. Of course, we’d arrived for the 4pm event a little later than we planned, but ah suh it go, right? Once there, in true Jamaican fashion, there was a wide representation from every age group, and as the afternoon progressed, it felt so much like a home away from home.
The room we had was what they call a “carnotzet” in Vaud, and being underground we felt cosy and protected. The meeting was soon officially started with Warren Wallace moderating, and the Jamaica Association in Switzerland was presented by Rashid Hall, our president. The objectives of our association for the year were outlined. One of the successful charity projects in Jamaica was highlighted, and we enjoyed the happy and grateful photos of faces from home that we were able to assist. This was the White Hall Primary School in St. Thomas where we installed a water tank as per their request for assistance, and this will help them to carry on with their classes after heavy rains as they will now have access to clean water. Even these small projects make a difference in the lives of our fellow Jamaicans.
To follow, we were delighted to hear the presentation on “Diaspora” from Quam Byll-Cataria. Quam is a fitness coach and has his own business. Now Quam is a quiet storm, underneath that cool veneer, we learned that he has a wealth of positivity and he was glad to impart to us that there are “so-suh” opportunities waiting for us in the Swiss culture. You have something unique to offer! And doing business is Switzerland is a serious thing, as they often have business top of mind and a good level of respect for earning a decent living. Quam has truly got a good grasp of his multicultural identity and is proud to encourage and share.
Under the subject of “Beyond – UN” we were lucky to get a veteran of the system run us through the general structure of the United Nations. Beverly Byfield is a smooth orator, and showed us how huge the UN network really is, naming some of the principal agencies that are offshoots of the main organisation. Some of the history of the organisation evolving from the League of Nations was contextualised, and the importance for this entity succeeding where the League of Nations failed was emphasized. Peace is indeed fragile and must be protected, as well as human rights. One take away from this presentation is that despite the systems in place, minority nations are still under-represented in the UN. Our diverse point of view is necessary to make this system speak for everyone. This is valuable information to share – encourage your friends and family to seek positions!
Nasser Johnson gave the closing remarks, and he was also responsible for the technical set-up where we were able to see the internet pages displayed, and hear some music from home. Mario Detraz walked around taking photographs for our website. The lead project manager was Warren, who organized the event. A good time was had by all – thank you Warren!