By Bernard Headley
n Wednesday, March 8, the National Organisation of Deported Migrants (NODM) was fully engaged — alongside Jamaica government National Security agencies and other NGOs — in receiving another batch, 32 in all, of British charter-flight deported migrants: our involuntarily returned citizens, but their presumed offenders.
The local and international media were, too, at the police receiving depot. NODM President Oswald Dawkins was interviewed extensively, his responses brilliant, on RJR’s ‘Beyond the Headlines’.
I am, though, uncomfortable with one portrayal of NODM in the Jamaica Gleaner story on the day in question. The story, entitled, ‘More deportees – Jamaica braces for their arrival from UK today’, has a line that could inadvertently give a false impression. The writer describes NODM as “funded by the British High Commission”.
The average reader could walk away from the story thinking that NODM is an entity owned by and which functions at the behest of the United Kingdom and the British High Commission in Jamaica.
Not so! While there is some truth to NODM owing much of its existence to the support of the BHC, particularly in areas of capacity building, the organisation is an autonomous, independent, civil-society entity. It represents an aspirational movement that was founded close to 10 years ago by a group of deported migrants from the United States.
Welcoming home and receiving fellow ‘deportees’ from Britain, the US and Canada is simply one set of activities that NODM engages in. We are striving to become a self-sufficient umbrella social enterprise, consisting of several social businesses that will occupy, in multiple productive ways, hundreds of our involuntarily returned citizens. One board member has, for instance, successfully partnered with NODM in Irish potato and carrot farming ventures.
I invite interested individuals and agencies of civil society, as well as conscientious business entities, to partner in and/or contribute to this our project of redemption and building a safe and inclusive Jamaica. You may email, write or give me a call.
Prof. Bernard Headley, PhD
NODM Cofounder & Board Chair