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Jamaicans in the diaspora dread returning home after retirement

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We all know at least one friend or family member, close or distant, who has immigrated to another country with the intent to earn a better living and finally return home and settle into a peaceful retirement. It happens today in as much as it did with Windrush 1948, and  families have differed in opinions on the matter. whether bearings were set for the UK, the US or elsewhere, hopes were for the opportunity to earn more and better provide for the family. The opposition would of site that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, or where children left behind were involved, the lament of them being made “Barrel babies” left without the nurturing of parents and potential abandonment issues. All things considered, the ultimate goal was for the overall good and many decided not to put off the temporary inconveniences in light of the ultimate good.

Over the years, immigrants integrate into the socioeconomic norms of their new environments, with focused attention to their immediate surroundings. This shift of focus, especially in the earlier years, lead to a disconnect of the current affairs of their home land, and even with our capabilities to access information in today’s world, most are still unable to keep properly abreast of what is happening back home. As the years progress and plans for returning home start to take fruition, concerns for reintegration into a society now foreign now surface. News and media highlight all that’s wrong with the land and the rare special segments highlighting the good are far overshadowed. Grappling with fear of returning to their once beloved homeland, Jamaicans in the diaspora dread returning home after retirement.

The concerns that our people have regarding return are varied and vast. Among the top concerns are: Healthcare, cost of living, socialization, safety and security. The latter is of highest concern for our citizens looking to, or who are considering returning home. The narrative from the Jamaica Association for the Resettlement of Returning Residents is a grim one, with it’s head, President Percival LaTouche having reportedly discourage Jamaicans in the diaspora from returning home. With statistics showing and increase of nearly 47% in the deaths of returning citizens in 2019 compared to 2018, which is 25 up from 17, The Associations head is not encouraging anyone to come home. As this information reaches media outlets abroad, would be and returning citizens have lost confidence in the abilities of the security forces, abandoning their plans to return or have again left Jamaica without the thought of returning. It is reported that the number of Britons, Americans and Canadians killed in Jamaica since 2012 to date, is upward of 127.

In July of 2018, there was an announcement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, of the establishment of a taskforce to address security and safety concerns of returning residents and their holistic reintegration into the Jamaican society. The task force chaired by then State Minister Pearnel Charles Jr, comprised returning residents, the ministry’s Diaspora Affairs Department, and the JCF. Despite all of this, homes built by Jamaicans abroad have still been abandoned. Many fear that they will be made targets whether directly or indirectly by even those commissioned to build their houses, over sixty such houses in Mandeville alone. Even though there is a reduction in the overall number of homicides in the past few years, confidence in the security forces efforts on behalf oof returning citizens still lag. The high profile cases and barbaric nature of the killings has caused Mr. LaTouche to continue to urge Jamaicans abroad not to return home, and they are listening.

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