The Jamaica Association in Switzerland (JAS), a non-profit organisation, was founded in 2005 by eight Jamaicans residing in Switzerland who wished to commemorate Bob Marley on his 60th birth anniversary. The first Bob Marley fete as it was called was held on May 12 that year with some 250 Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica in attendance. The event was synonymous to a night of dancing to reggae music while enjoying Jamaican food accompanied by Red Stripe beer and Jamaican rum punch. The success was such that the founding committee decided to constitute an association whose objectives would be to a) be a focal point for the Jamaican community residing in Switzerland by providing networking opportunities, educational and social activities and assist newly arriving Jamaican residents, b) promote the people, culture and environment of Jamaica, in so doing enhancing the country’s image as a worthy tourist destination, c) provide fundraising avenues to support Jamaican educational institutions in all fourteen parishes and d) contribute to the cultural diversity of the Swiss society and facilitate cultural exchanges between Switzerland and Jamaica.
The JAS has come a long way since its inception and continues to work closely with the Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the United Nations in Geneva and His Excellency, Mr Ambassador Wayne McCook to fulfil its mandate. The association, currently presided by newly elected Mr Rashid Hall, continues to bridge cultural awareness between Jamaica and Switzerland and is raising funds for another primary school in need on the island. “The objective is to work even more closely with Jamaica and particularly the primary educational institutions. We are trying to have at least one member of the association come to Jamaica each year to coordinate and follow-up on the project we’re supporting” – says President Rashid Hall.
Last year, former President Jessica Taylor and Rashid Hall were interviewed by Simone Clarke-Cooper on Smile Jamaica and answered White Hall Primary School’s request for assistance in St-Thomas. The JAS provided a water tank which now enables the school to carry out classes without interruption. Before the water tank was provided and installed, White Hall Primary would have to send children home every time it rained heavily as the property wasn’t able to disperse the heavy waters. “On behalf of the White Hall Primary School family in St-Thomas I wish to say a big thank you to the Jamaica Association in Switzerland for the donation of the water tank and trust that as we go from strength to strength we will have a better school” – commented Principal Mrs Icilyn Davis Taylor as Jessica Taylor and Rashid Hall made their goodbyes after spending the last day of school with its community.
Many impactful projects have been completed over the years enabling the further improvement and development of our schools. Music instruments, storage cabins, toilets, basins and a P.A. system are some of the numerous donations to Jamaican schoolsfacilitated by the Jamaica Association in Switzerland over the years and a new project will come to fruition in 2018. All public primary schools can submit a project and apply for next year’s project on the association’s website: www.jamaicaassociation.ch.
Tackling on its other objectives, the JAS will be holding several social activities in Switzerland in 2018, amongst which a cultural gathering at the Permanent Mission of Jamaica in Geneva to promote our culture, a summer BBQ by the lake to celebrate our country’s Independence as well as the traditional Bob Marley fete with Jamaican music, food, drinks and vibes.