African Awareness Week is about celebrating African culture, diversity, and what it brings to Jersey –including the many members of our local African community.
There are currently more people of African ethnicity living in Jersey than ever before.
According to the 2021 Census report, 764 people recorded their ethnicity as 'African' – which is 0.7% of the population – while in 2011 only 256 were recorded.
Many of these individuals come to the island to fill recruitment shortages and boost the economy, especially in the sectors that are key to Jersey's livelihood – such as hospitality, tourism, and healthcare.
African Awareness Week is a celebration of African culture and what it brings to Jersey. The Friends of Africa CI, a locally registered charity that supports those moving to the island to settle quickly and fit into the community, are putting on a series of events to share their culture with the island with the aim of promoting tolerance and cultural diversity.
A spokesperson from Friends of Africa CI said: "This week is a celebration of culture and sharing of heritage with islanders and also to celebrate Africa Day (25 May) with Africans on the island.
"It is open to all people who care about diversity and inclusion; lately the charity has been doing more work around advocacy to ensure that people understand their rights and supporting organisations to become more culturally aware."
Lee Madden, the Managing Director of GR8 Recruitment, brings workers from Kenya to help plug the island's recruitment gaps, has said that this week is an "opportunity" for the island "to embrace African culture, which brings so much to the island."
Pictured: Lee Madden, of GR8 Recruitment, outside the Bukura Agricultural College in Kenya Picture (Lee Madden).
He added: "The people we help to employ who come over from Eastern Africa come here with a bright, happy disposition, the desire to work hard and give the island the support it need, even in the local community and among charity."
"To embrace Africa Awareness Week is great and raises awareness of the important work they do in healthcare, hospitality, tourism. We are helping to change lives one job at a time."
This African Awareness Week, Express reached out to some of those living in Jersey who hail from Africa...
Pictured: Deputy Beatriz Porée made history as the first black member of the States Assembly.
Deputy Porée was born in Angola. At nine years old, she fled to Portugal with her family as a war refugee.
At 22, she needed a job, to step out of her family circle, and to "broaden her horizons".
The original plan was Australia, which at the time was the "land of promises", but that was deemed too far away for her mother.
Instead: Jersey. "It was introduced to me as a very safe place," Deputy Porée said.
In 1989, she arrived in Jersey and her first job was working at Elizabeth Castle packing sandwiches in the café.
She said that migrants today deal with different issues than she did: "I was a permit worker, and I had the freedom to choose which employer I wanted to work with, and there was no attachment. When the Elizabeth Castle café closed, I was able to apply for and get another job, and that was how it worked then.
"Jersey has gone backward, and now when a permit worker comes to Jersey, that employee is not able to work outside that original contract or find other part-time work unless in extreme circumstances."
One season led to another, though, for Deputy Porée, and Jersey ended up becoming her home.
"When I came to Jersey, my intentions were never to stay here a long time," she said. "I was 22, I had no long-term visions of any kind in my mind. I stayed because I created good friendships, I felt welcome, and Jersey gave me that economic reward that I was looking for.
"After four years, I met my husband, and after my first child, the idea of living in Jersey was more permanent. I began to treat it like home, when before it had just been a place I came to find a job."
She still has extended family in Angola, and has Angolan friends in Jersey.
Deputy Porée said: "When we meet up, we cook African food. It is all about memories and connection and spending time with each other."
She added: "I feel very much connected with Jersey culture now. Connecting is about giving and taking, and when I came to Jersey, there was an influx of workers to supply the tourist industry, so I made very strong friendships with Irish, Scottish, English as well as Jersey and Portuguese people.
"I found my own melting pot of cultures and the sense of belonging came with it. When you stay somewhere, you adapt to that culture, you learn from that culture, you respect that culture."
"I come from the Western part of Kenya and came to Jersey through GR8 Recruitment as a multi skilled labourer. I have been on the island for the past eight months and one thing that struck me was how the islanders are so welcoming to visitors. The Jersey people are so friendly and ready to help, something that I found out to be extraordinary compared to back home.
"As we celebrate African Awareness Week here in Jersey, I can only say I have been privileged to learn about this beautiful island from residents, of their hospitality and warmth to guests and our African culture, which is living together and sharing whatever we were blessed with by God.
"Kenyan culture is very communal in nature. We share everything, from clothes, food, and even space! At home, personal items are often shared with every member of the family. Family is everything to me and that's why I took the opportunity to come and work here in Jersey to improve the livelihood of my family back and improve the bond which is unity."
"Jersey is a lovely island for as many positives as there are challenges. I have worked in both the mainland and Jersey.
"The good things about Jersey is that the security is guaranteed, social amenities are well kept, and it's easy to follow up with the Jersey government for various service.
"The challenge is accommodation. It is expensive and takes most of our wages. But as part of the solution to these challenges, I have been able to get great assistance from GR8 recruitment firm. The firm has always tried the best to enable us fit and feel that we belong.
"Most of us lost our jobs during the pandemic in 2020. Economy in our country has been growing, but jobs are not yet back. Jersey was the main option that came through for us especially in hospitality and of course the pay here is alright. We miss our families at home, but we have to work."
"I come from the central part of Kenya and am a loving father of beautiful kids. I have worked in many different companies back home and outside the country, and through the help of GR8 recruitment, I was able to move to this beautiful, blessed island in August 2022.
"I love everything about the people here, the work we do, the respect I get from the locals and my employers. I don't have enough words to explain how good it is. God bless the entire GR8 recruitment team and the people of this beautiful island for an opportunity that I may be able to provide for my family, my home, church and those in need."
"I landed here in August 2022 and it has been a blessing to work here with friendly people and a wonderful environment.
"We enjoy working here at least to provide for our families. Also we enjoy giving back to the community by getting involved in the charity work on the island too."
"I have been here for the last five months and I love the place to say the least. I came to Jersey on a multi skilled labour permit and mostly work in the construction industry doing some skilled and unskilled labour jobs.
"The best thing about Jersey is that so orderly that you can just feel as safe as nowhere else. And the people are nice and welcoming.
"Being a person from Africa, I have always taken my family as my number one priority because our culture mostly rotates around the family."
You can find out more about African Awareness Week on the Friends of Africa Jersey CI Facebook page.
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