MORANT BAY, St Thomas:
“Come and see” was Philip’s response to Nathanael when he asked him if anything good could come out of Nazareth.
So is the retaliation of those who hail from the eastern parish of St Thomas, who, for the past few weeks, have come out in strong defence of being labelled as the ‘forgotten.’
Scores of residents have been participating in an online campaign in a bid to, according to them, break the negative stereotype that has haunted the parish for years.
Using the hashtag #IAmFrom StThomas, Facebook and Instagram users from the parish are challenging others to post a picture of themselves with the caption:
“I am from St Thomas! Let us break this stereotype of St Thomas being the ‘backa bush’ parish that nothing good comes from. Let us remind Jamaica that not only are the natural resources of our parish used as the natural building block of the island, but the jewels of St Thomas are scattered everywhere.
“I challenge you wherever you are in the world… in your uniform, [at] your place of employment, on the hustle, etc, remind the nation with a selfie, #IAMFROMSTTHOMAS.”
The post is then concluded with a sentence stating the various job titles and talents of the participants.
SUPPORT FOR THE MOVEMENT
Though it is uncertain who began the campaign, many people, including doctors, lawyers, teachers, musicians, artistes, entrepreneurs and students from the parish who are now working or living all over the world, have come out in support of the movement.
Sharing her reason for participating in the campaign, educator Shamara Allen labelled the move as a good way to inform others that something good can, indeed, come from her place of birth.
“I did it because too much negativity has been shadowing the citizens of St Thomas for far too long. Everything is being taken from St Thomas, from materials to factories and people, too.
In doing this, we are showing that greatness comes from the parish, and if developed, more people would invest in it,” she said.
Allen said that with the growth of social media, she believes this campaign will be effective enough to get the point across.
According to her: “We have seen where hashtags across the world have got attention from the press and the government! So for those wondering if the Government will act, that’s not the point. The point is to help lift the stigma and to bring awareness of the accomplishments of St Thomas.”
Others have not been so supportive and doubt the effectiveness of the movement.
According to one user: “A letter from the youth of St Thomas or a petition to get the road fixed might be more effective than a selfie. Maybe even a town hall meeting with the MPs and concerned residents. Everybody has a different view, still, and there are various ways of showing your support. I’m not against any movement.”