On Easter Sunday, some of Jamaica’s biggest names in music came together to raise millions of U.S. dollars to help doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19, with Jamaica’s first-ever government-led telethon, “Together We Stand”.
The six-hour virtual concert was spearheaded by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports along with an alliance of global diaspora organisations.
Among the artists that lent their talents to the telethon were Freddie McGregor, George Nooks, Spice, Richie Spice, Shaggy, Ding Dong, Julian and Ziggy Marley, Capleton, among others. Reggae legend and Rock and Roll Hall-of-Fame inductee Jimmy Cliff also gave a short performance while encouraging viewers to pledge what they could.
Several international stars like Wyclef Jean, Gloria Estefan and Sting also took to social media to endorse the telethon and encouraged their followers to donate.
The event, which was streamed live via VP Record’s Youtube page, has since racked up 200,000 views from across the world.
“It was a fantastic show of generosity and the strength of the human spirit. We will be formally thanking all who participated but I wanted to advise that the Telethon is ongoing as we seek to engage with persons who live in different time zones. There will be an ongoing re-broadcast with live links from those areas,” said Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.
The pledges will be used to purchase personal protective equipment for frontline workers in the fight against the coronavirus. The fundraising effort was aimed at raising some $10 million USD. While the funds are being collated this week, several individuals and organizations already announced substantial donations.
On Sunday, the United Way chapter in Jamaica announced that it was donating $2.5 million to the effort, Credit Unions of Jamaica pledged $4 million and Restaurants of Jamaica pledged $2 million. Retired Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt also announced that he was donating $500,000 JMD to the cause.
During the telethon, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that at the Jamaica government is doing the best it can to control the spread of COVID-19. He also donated his own $3,000 USD to the cause.
As of Monday, the island had 73 confirmed cases. “The people of the United States … see how disastrous this is as a disease, and the impact it can have on even the most well-resourced health service”, said Holness.
He also encouraged Jamaicans in the diaspora overseas to be patient.
“The Government is working overtime to ensure that we can bring you back home. It’s a very difficult thing because the transmission of the virus here in Jamaica has largely been traced to persons coming in. So, we are being very careful [and] very strategic, I know it is very difficult but I ask you to be patient. We will put in place end to end protocols to ensure that when you come into Jamaica there is no community spread,” said Holness.
The government says that donations are still being accepted through jatogetherwestand.com