Recent visits to my homeland has provoked a few questions in my mind like, where has everyone gone? Where are most of my school mates from Jamaica? In the past, I've been guilty of not keeping in touch, I went off the radar for about 10 years while I grafted, established my business and built my skillset. Though I've always loved the island, it took a good few accomplishments before I started reaching back and regularly visiting home. I wondered if this was true for others too.
No matter how much time I spend away, giving back is entrenched within me. I've always been passionate about leaving a trail for others to follow especially those from less privileged backgrounds. Perhaps starting from humble beginnings has been the catalyst for my philanthropic efforts.
On a recent family holiday I found a way to invest in the community. Some would call it work, others would label someone like me a workaholic. Nonetheless I project managed the refurbishment of a primary school in St Andrew that was at risk of closing down. The results would have been catastrophic with 250 young people left as the casualties with no education. Luckily the work carried out in the summer enabled the doors to re-open right at the start of the new school year. A few months later I was appointed a board member for The Jamaican Education Taskforce UK, endorsed by the JA High Commissioner, as a formal means of giving back to the education sector.
The more I gave back to my land of birth, the more curious I became about where and why more of the future leaders had to some extent, vanished. Had they migrated, found a good job or become entrepreneurs? I embarked on a quest to get some answers.
I wonder, is it possible to unlearn something you've learnt? How do you put aside new experiences, access to a diverse world and return to the melancholy of your former life? These questions get harder to answer especially if you have travelled from a country that has more maladies than opportunities. If poverty and corruption overpowers progress, there leaves limited options for those who abandoned the constraints of their menial beginnings in hope of a brighter future.
The minority who benefit from the largesse of a foreign country by taking advantage of a full or part funded scholarship, find themselves in unfamiliar territory upon their return home. Their affinity for the country is still as prevalent as ever but the poor governance, height of crime or lack of progression handicaps their ability to grow. If you aren't fortunate enough to land a great job it can become unbearable to stay in the beloved country as the chagrin continues to build.
Some would think their time away expired too soon, they return home and quickly get disillusioned with the pace of life or standard of living. They look for other opportunities to migrate and some further their studies yet again seeking higher levels of education or work elsewhere. These skilled individuals many times become assets to other countries leaving their home countries in deficit. This creates an insatiable void in the home country and becomes the poverty of experience. So how do you keep the professional from jumping ship once they've acquired the skills and broadened their horizon? A handful may at some point re-invest in their home countries once they have attained some levels of success whilst others never look back.
A fraction take an insular approach by putting their education and skills to work in local jobs. They defy the poor governance and set up new initiatives in an effort to bring about change and improvements within their society. Those brave enough to step out, may even dare to become entrepreneurs, often as a result of necessity or for venture growth, creating profit opportunities for local and global success.
Conversely some people prefer to remain in their comfort zone, or stay comfortably miserable. Limiting themselves with a repetitive lifestyle of unproductivity. It's ironic that those who least venture out sometimes become the most opinionated and negative about progress and change. They sometimes despise those who sought new pastures abroad. This results in an augmented disparity between locals and foreign educated professionals.
Each person travels their own unique path. Some stay and some leave in search of a better life. I'm certain there are those who would love to give back but just don't know how or where to start. Don't give up on your homeland. Many times your exact skillset or knowledge is what is required to disrupt the normal state of play and make a positive difference. Start seeing the problems as an opportunity for change. Perhaps, collectively, we can harness all we've learnt from the various experiences and stay connected. There are many ways to assist the next generation and empower the communities where we started, we can strengthen the economy and invest in entrepreneurship so that the place we once or still call home can operate and compete in the global market.