Government is pulling out all of the stops to ensure Barbadians in the diaspora are armed with the necessary information on We Gatherin’ 2020 so they can make their way home for the 12-month celebration next year.
And, based on the feedback the Vision 2020 Project Implementation Unit has been receiving here and in the diaspora, it seems Barbadians are very keen and enthusiastic about celebrating “all things Barbadian” during the grand homecoming in 2020.
Project Coordinator of We Gatherin’ 2020, Selma Green, said Barbadians in the diaspora were excited about coming home to reconnect with their friends and family. “In addition, there is great interest in the Genealogy Marketplace as people want to trace their Bajan roots. Most importantly, Barbadians at home and abroad are looking forward to joining the national conversation and contributing towards making Barbados work for everyone,” she stated.
Ms. Green noted that the Government was putting systems in place to provide an opportunity for all Barbadians to give back to their beloved country. She explained that a digital online platform was being established to facilitate the receipt of financial donations to support the Barbados Hospitals’ Project.
She continued: “This project is designed to give all Barbadians an opportunity to provide financial, in-kind or technical support to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Geriatric Hospital, Psychiatric Hospital or the several district hospitals, to ensure that we continue to provide quality health care in Barbados.
“We will be identifying and sharing the specific needs of the various institutions and the communities online; providing the guidelines and procedures for accepting charitable donations; and creating the face-to-face mechanism to accept financial and in-kind donations.”
It is a homecoming, not only representing a physical return to Barbados but also symbolizing a recommitment to core Barbadian values. Community groups, churches, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, as well as regional and international participants with Barbadian connections, are being encouraged to participate and produce their own events and projects.
Each parish has been designated its own month to showcase the icons, social life, heritage and food for which it is renowned. St. Lucy will be highlighted in January; St. Peter in February; St. Thomas in March; St. Joseph in April; St. John in May; St. George in June; St. Philip in July; St. Andrew in August; St. James in September; Christ Church in October; and St. Michael in November. The entire nation will celebrate from November 30 through to December 2020, when there will be the climax event – an elaborate “Old Time Bajan Christmas” extravaganza in Queen’s Park on December 25, 2020.
The Vision 2020 Project Implementation Unit is currently finalizing next year’s National Event Calendar for publication. However, Ms. Green disclosed that several major events and activities were being planned and identified them as including family reunions, ideas fora, conversations with the Prime Minister; community-based cultural, entertainment, heritage and sporting events; a Genealogy Market Place, Female Leadership Summit, Investment Initiatives and a National Cleanup and Beautification Campaign inclusive of a tree-planting project.
She stated that there will be Events of National Significance, for example, Errol Barrow’s Centenary Celebration; the installation of inspiring art on public buildings; and national events, namely major festivals and faith-based events.
A number of tasks have already been undertaken, she said, and listed them as including the production of We Gatherin’ merchandise; the initiation of key strategic public and private sector partnerships; and the development of a plan to enhance the visitor experience at the air and seaports.
Ms. Green noted that five main sub-committees had been created to manage key functional projects, initiatives and events related to We Gatherin’ and persons were currently executing various duties. For example, she said, the Parish Organizing Committees have been set up and are in the process of planning community activities for next year.
In addition to disseminating information to the overseas missions and consulates to share with the diaspora, she said Government officials had engaged Barbadians in New York, London and Toronto and those in Fort Lauderdale would also be targeted in early November 2019.
“In London, Barbadians were engaged by participating in Q in the Community. However, the team from the Project Implementation Unit also took the opportunity to visit popular places and events where Barbadians congregate, attended a ‘Meet and Greet’ session and met with Bajans, members of the business community and travel agents.
“From all accounts, the sensitization initiative in New York went very well. Q in the Community was a huge success and tremendously appealing to the 5,000 people who attended. We were able to gather pertinent data relating to the number and profile of persons intending to visit Barbados during 2020, the times they are likely to travel, and the activities they intend to undertake and wish to participate in. Both Q in the Community events were live-streamed and they were viewed by thousands of people,” she stated.
In preparation for We Gatherin’, Ms. Green encouraged Barbadians here to remind family members and friends overseas about the homecoming, pinpoint areas of need in their community where persons could give support to, and identify Barbadians who are doing excellent work in their communities and nominate them for national awards.
Additionally, she appealed to Barbadians, here to take part in the residential and community cleanup efforts, reach out to their Parish Organizing Committee to find out how they can help, as well as explore ways to make money and start new ventures by finding business opportunities to pursue.
With regard to the diaspora, she said persons should begin booking their flights to come home and encourage others to do the same. They are also encouraged to invest their time, expertise and or finances in a number of developmental projects at the parish or national levels; and identify outstanding Barbadians and nominate them for a national award.
Ms. Green wants all Barbadians to regularly check the We Gatherin’ website to get more information and keep abreast with Government’s plans.
So with less than 12 weeks to go before this grand homecoming, all Barbadians are encouraged to think about how we can be a part of this truly momentous year-long celebration, as well as give back to a country that has assisted in moulding who we are today.