MONTEGO BAY, St James – The spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has forced people who have been displaced from their regular jobs to seek alternative means of survival here in western Jamaica.
For example, since the lockdown of the hotel and entertainment sectors, Montego Bay-based reggae crooner Mackie Conscious, who banked heavily on stage shows and cabaret performances for a living, has now turned his attention to pushing on to the digital platform material crafted in his recording studio.
“A cabaret singer is displaced because of the hotel. No entertainment activity is happening anywhere and I don’t know how soon things will return to normal. So as an entertainer I might be fortunate to be one who created a studio so that I can keep recording. I can record my songs and I can still put them on the Internet for sale,” Mackie Conscious, whose given name is Dennis McKay, told the Jamaica Observer.
“So we might have to find creative means of doing our performances other than in a crowd. Everything is going social [media] so we have to find means and ways to do music videos, send it social and send your songs for sale. If they like it they will buy it on the relevant platform, if they can afford it after this,” he added.
He also cited the need for a wholesale tilling of the soil in an effort to cut back on Jamaica’s food bill.
“Right now Jamaicans need to find alternative means of survival. The most important need is food, and if a man eat an orange him can plant back the seed. Every man needs to start planting something, no matter how small. We have to start brainstorming for alternative means of survival other than what we have been doing,” the entertainer recommended.
He forecast that “the entire world is going to change and people are going to realise that people they have at work they don’t need them in their building as they can work from home. The people who own the building, they will not get rent for that building. Whole lot of people are going to get displaced. We have to start to think of what we can do to turn the table like right now. We have to think in addition to what we were doing”.
Trelawny wood sculptor Elisha Cummings, who banked heavily on tourism as an outlet for his craft items, is now putting in yeoman service in his backyard garden, which he has maintained over the years to supply his demand for ground provisions.
“My business has totally locked down over two months now. It is beyond my control, but it impacts me a lot. I have my little garden from long, long time and in the good times you have to stash [save] a little thing [money] aside. But remember now, the bills coming, so you still feel the impact because no matter what you put aside, it going down. Plus, when the utility company them come, you know they don’t care,” Cummings argued, adding that he did not apply for the Government’s Compassionate Grant.
He said while he wishes to see the back of the COVID-19 disease and the economy return to normal speedily, “there is nothing we can do about it”.
Montego Bay-based photographer Alicia Chambers said since the halting of the issuing of police records at Summit Police Station in the city, where she provided her service, she has resorted to functioning as a nail technician.
She said the fathers of her two children were also supportive.
“I haven’t been working since the COVID-19. To be honest, I do a little nails now and then but it is not much because it is not a everyday thing, but I just pray and hope to the Lord. I have two babyfathers so I depend on them for now. I am not working. I don’t know what will happen if it [coronavirus outbreak] should go on for much longer because it is very challenging now,” she told the Sunday Observer.
Fitzroy Jones of St James, who is employed by a car rental company, said he has to be delving into his savings since his employment was put on hold.
“I am at home since COVID-19. Is a little savings mi have and go inna but it a go down now. Mi baby a just one year and mi have to buy Pampers [disposable diapers] and dem thing deh. It’s very difficult now because of light bill, rent, and dem something deh. It a give me a fight, but mi a pray to God and hope on,” Jones said.
“When the savings done, mi don’t know what will happen, but mi naw thief though, mi not inna da part deh. Mi tell you the truth, mi naw go tief, but mi don’t know what a go gwaan,” Jones said.
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