Sun | Dec 5, 2021

We are the world: Entertainers worried for nation’s children

Published:Friday | March 13, 2020 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Pamputtae and her sons, Jahzere Henry (left) and Kavon Smith.
I-Octane performs with his daughter, Octavia, during the 27th staging of Rebel Salute at Grizzly’s Plantation Cove in St Ann, earlier this year.
D’Angel and her son, Marco Dean.
Shenseea with her son, four-year-old Rajeiro.

Lyrics of the transform-ational track We Are The World, recorded by pop icon Michael Jackson, his siblings and the remaining USA for Africa artistes, such as Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, and Cyndi Lauper, come to mind in this time of global crisis.

The children, the less fortunate and the elderly become a focal point as the word on tongues worldwide is coronavirus [COVID-19].

Like the track emphasises, “There comes a time, when we heed a certain call, when the world must come together as one, there are people dying, and it’s time to lend a hand to life, the greatest gift of all”, which leads into the chorus, “We are the world, we are the children.”

As many persons share their growing concerns about the spread of the illness and cross their fingers in hopes that an effective treatment will be made available, reggae and dancehall entertainer I-Octane notes that to “heed a certain call” is to pay attention to the education of the people. He said: “First and foremost, I believe the media, not just locally but globally, is blowing the news out of proportion.”

He expressed that the way information is shared should be conscientious.

“Sure they have highlighted the problem but there has been more of that and less of the solutions, and there are a lot of people who cannot hear, read, or those who can read and just don’t comprehend and [it] puts them in a panic.”

While I-Octane agrees with the protocol to close schools, which was announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday, he said that, “The reason we have to lock schools and business places is because the media makes it so scary. The Ebola crisis was not long ago, it is biowarfare so we must use it as a means to educate … to learn what to do and what not to.”

He continued: “I have to commend the schools that, in their closure, are trying to keep the work consistent for the children so they don’t feel like they on a break and dabble into other things, but with it comes a con. The problem is that there are less fortunate ones who don’t have access to Internet who will get left out, so that alternative is not for everyone.”

‘My concern is for everybody’

Single Mothers Foundation director Pamputtae also voiced her concerns which empathise with parts of We Are The World’s verse to “send them your heart, so they know that someone cares, and their lives will be stronger and free.”

“My concern is for everybody, we here in Jamaica and the entire world. The safety of the people in countries affected by coronavirus has me worried,” Pamputtae told The Gleaner.

She revealed that she has had sleepless nights since the confirmation of cases in Jamaica.

“I don’t know if I am overthinking. So what if we have to stop the children from going to school because health comes first; if they are not healthy then that will be a problem. It scares me when my six-year-old is going to tell me seh him nuh waan dead because children who have access to information are seeing all that is happening around the world,” she said.

“At the same time, as well, children around me who were anxious for PEP examinations, their anxieties ah build up more, and that can take a toll on them too. The situation is scary for them; it is messed up and makes me feel uncomfortable thinking how they must feel … . We need to find ways to console them.”

“There’s a choice we’re making, we’re saving our own lives”, another part of the chorus in We Are The World can be interpreted in several ways.

Awareness is key

For single mothers D’Angel and Shenseea, awareness is key.

D’Angel said: “It is not just being aware of all that is happening in the world, but arming ourselves with useful information and supplies to take extra precaution. I have remained up to date with my son’s school. I am a mother first, so yes, shows are being cancelled, but right now, it is a choice, and the choice I have made to make sure my child is safe.”

“Make the children aware and as we watch everything unfold, we not only have to take care but pray for our nation. Marco has been taking all the items like sanitisers and so to school and even when school resumes, we should continue encouraging the children to use these things,” she continued.

Shenseea said that she was “a bit relieved that the Government has decided to close schools”.

“As a mother, I am extremely protective of my child and feel more at ease having full supervision of my son at this time,” she said.

“I’m encouraging all parents to talk to their children so they can be aware. They are young, but they still understand everything.”