For Jamaicans living overseas, life sometimes gets so busy that they can easily forget the many benefits and joys they had while living in Jamaica. But . . . There are some who choose to remember and want to give back in a very real way!
Meet Diana, a Jalawelo volunteer. She is committed to giving back to Jamaica and she’s not afraid to take the hard road to do so. Diana is a diligent, organized thinker who loves to laugh, yet she is serious about helping people in sustainable ways. Like bun and cheese, Diana’s values and genuine concern for others are a perfect complement to Jalawelo’s commitment to helping people in ways that make sense for the long-term.
Life as a “Country” Girl
A true "country" girl in her own right, Diana grew up in a "sleepy district" in St. Mary, Jamaica. She lived a modest life without many modern day comforts as money was often tight. As a child, she watched her mother study to become a teacher in order to provide for herself and her 8 siblings. Diana learned from her the priceless lesson of working hard and thinking critically to solve problems. To this day, her mom remains “a guiding light” for her.
During her teens, Diana moved to the metropolitan area of Kingston and St. Andrew. She eventually earned a Master's degree in Business Administration and, there, she also met her husband, Peter.
Onto New Shores
Though life was pretty comfortable, after having children, the couple decided that they wanted their kids to have a better chance at getting a college education than they had as youngsters. So, in response to the Y2K need for IT resources, Peter decided to take a job in the United States. This was not a difficult decision as they both felt they had hit a ceiling in their careers. Nearly 2 decades later, they now are settled in California where Diana works as an IT Business Analyst and Project Manager.
Though living abroad, Diana has never forgotten her small island home, Jamaica. She deeply misses the sense of closeness and community which she found back home. As a way to connect with and actively help her fellow Jamaicans, she served on the Scholarship committee for the Jamaican American Association of Northern California (JAANC) for a few years . It was through JAANC that she was introduced to Jalawelo.
Real Help… From Afar
Diana felt quite drawn to the fact that Jalawelo’s approach was to 'Provide Real Help, Not Handouts'. She liked the fact that the nonprofit did not simply focus on donations, but on providing long term help and forming strong bonds with people in local communities.
As Diana states,
“This is not the easy approach. It is slow going. However, things are happening. I am hopeful. I am committed.”
After donating to Jalawelo, Diana felt it was time to also offer her professional skills to serve her people. Through a happy accident, she got a chance to do this very thing! Diana has now been a loyal volunteer on the Jalawelo team for 4 years! She contributes at least 3-4 hours of her time each week and now takes a leadership role with Jalawelo’s Young Adult Circle (YAC) program. She also now sits on our Advisory Team. The “country girl” within allows her to get up bright and early on Wednesday mornings in California to discuss the YAC program via Skype with team members in Pennsylvania, Jamaica, and Florida. Her contribution to Jalawelo has been invaluable. She uses her clear problem solving and project management skills to boost the level at which the whole team operates.
The Power of Every Jamaican
Again and again, Diana has refused to allow distance to prevent her from making her mark on the island. She believes that, as diasporans, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to contribute to positive change in Jamaica. In addition to offering some financial support, many can also give of their time and talents to make a change. Furthermore, people can stay connected to Jamaicans back home to offer emotional support. In other words, each Jamaican can do something!
Diana loves the idea of making a concrete contribution to the lives of marginalized people in Jamaica. By working with Jalawelo, she has been able to do that very thing. Now, as Jalawelo continues to impact lives for the long haul, Diana has the privilege of knowing that she is a important part of this change.
Thank you, Diana!
And thanks to the many diasporans who who are making a mark in Jamaica.
In a “Me First” world, there are still people who care -
People who are critical thinkers and who are unafraid of commitment and sacrifice.
If you want to join us as we work to make a difference in Jamaica, send us an email!
You can also check out a few ways you can volunteer by clicking here.
We’d love to have you be part of our Jalawelo family!