Happy New Year: honoring the past and looking to the future

We at Creators of Hope wish you and yours a very happy New Year! As we look ahead to the many exciting projects we’ve planned for this year, including two mission trips to build homes for Jamaica’s rural poor, we’d like to start out by honoring Jamaica’s past and the way this country’s unique culture grew out of its challenging history.

We hope you tried out our featured Jamaican recipes last month. This month, as we look at the story that led to the birth of Jamaica’s own cultural heritage, we’re going to feature traditional music.

Back in November, we saw how the current economic inequality in Jamaica stems from its history as a European colony. The sugar plantation system, which dominated many of the Caribbean islands in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, created a society of haves and have-nots. Either you were born into a life of advantages, or you struggled at the bottom of the ladder.

Plantations ran on the labor of people brought from many parts of Africa. We at Creators of Hope know the essential importance of home, which drives our mission. Imagine, then, what it was like for the displaced people who were brought across the ocean by force, who were separated from their homes and from everything they knew and loved. When you have lost your roots, what do you have? When you are in an alien world, where nothing is familiar and nothing is safe, where danger surrounds you, and when you know you will never recover the things you loved: where you do find strength? What helps you to keep going?

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Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica

The plantation system in Jamaica created the crippling inequality that persists to this day. We see it in the drastic poverty of the rural areas, where families have to choose between food and shelter, and where the idea of educating children and equipping them for a better life is only a dream for many people. In the darkness of Jamaica’s cultural roots, though, we also see an amazing strength. The people who came there, taken away from everything they loved, did find a way to keep going. Out of what they lost, they created something new.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll look further at how Jamaica’s culture evolved and how people with different backgrounds came together, finding common ground and helping sustain one another in their harsh new world. Meanwhile, listen to this week’s featured music, the iconic Jamaican folk song “Linstead Market.” This song treats the sad and difficult story of a mother trying to make enough money to feed her children with beauty and grace. The song is in Jamaican Creole patois, but you can find English lyrics here.

If you like what you hear, please share this post and help us honor Jamaica’s history. And please read more about our mission and find out how you can help Jamaica’s people today!

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