Rebuilding a Nation Post-Irma
PHILIPSBURG:— “Jollification is a Caribbean tradition where neighbors and friends would come together to assist in a community effort in exchange for support, a hot meal and drinks would be provided. Within several neighborhoods across St. Martin, people have been observed coming together to eat, drink and enjoy good music. This jollification could perhaps be viewed as a local coping strategy and a source of healing and rebuilding,” according to the St. Maarten Foundation For Psychologists & “Orthopedagogen” (SFPO).
SFPO officials cited the former founder and president of the St. Martin Nation Building Foundation, drs. Leopold James who said, in the Today newspaper in 2012, “Jollifications were a major part of our culture and our development as a people. They took place mostly on Sundays when men and women from different villages would come together to collectively help build a home, reap harvest or even butcher animals. It was to a large part because of this tradition that the St. Martin people were able to survive, to build their homes and to survive in general.”
Historically speaking, jollification came into existence because of negative environmental circumstances (severe hurricanes, drought, famine) which reinforced a community of sharing and caring, whereby persons engaged in cooperative activities. “The St. Martin community is currently faced with various hardships because of the devastating effects of Irma, which require a unified approach towards the rebuilding of our nation,” SFPO officials stated.
SFPO, therefore, suggested that the jollification practices observed can perhaps be increased across more neighborhoods in St. Martin, by consciously inviting neighbors and friends to small gatherings to eat for example baked or fried Johnny cakes, drink bush tea and play dominoes. “In times past, people of the community came together to execute a task, in exchange for food, drink, and merriment. This type of jollification might also be worthy of further exploration during the present time,” SFPO officials noted.
SFPO officials emphasized that “a culture of sharing and caring, through jollification gestures is a traditional practice passed down through the generations, meant to give us strength and to restore a general sense of wellbeing during difficult and challenging circumstances.”
The St. Maarten Foundation for Psychologists and “Orthopedagogen”(SFPO) consists of a board of local professionals. The board’s purpose is to support continuing, culture-sensitive education, practice, and research in the field of pedagogy and psychology and to build professional relationships with professionals within the field in the region in order to develop psychological practices relevant to the Caribbean region.
SFPO Press Release