Many have cast the nation of Jamaica as a dark and crude place to be, with violence and hardship and the lack of compassion for a fellow brother and sister living right next door. However this notion can be shattered as the celebration of International Free Hugs day was conducted with just a small amount of nation builders and changers, in one of the nations most busiest areas, Half Way Tree.
The Free Hugs Campaign is a social movement involving individuals who offer hugs to strangers in public places. The campaign in its present form was started in 2004 by an Australian man known only by the pseudonym "Juan Mann". The campaign became famous internationally in 2006 as the result of a music video on YouTube by the Australian band Sick Puppies, which is one of the most popular on the site, having been viewed over 69,000,000 times. The hugs are meant to be random acts of kindness - selfless acts performed just to make others feel better.
Jamaican Henry Robinson took the project on in London and with a huge success he had decided to take it to his home country Jamaica, with the help of his family and friends he got the Free Hugs movements going in Jamaica by the social media Facebook where they posted a video as well as created a Facebook group FREE HUGS – Jamaica Leg. The group has gotten a good amount of traffic since its inception. The attention the campaign got locally was a success for the little media hype the group created in making the project as simple as it could have been so persons would see them and you guessed it randomly given them a hug without prior knowledge of what was going on.
The group set out in the middle of Half Way Tree (HWT) as early as 9:00am and had created a buzz from 7th Avenue Plaza right down to the busy bus terminal. They ventured into stores, buses, taxis and private cars and wrapped their arms around over 100 Jamaicans who freely opened their arms for a hug. Several passersby praised the group for what they were doing and wished them all the best. Huggers from all walks of life and age groups stopped just to be a part of the movement and shared in the many silly dance moments by the huggers. Video Production group Blip Productions was on hand with the team to video the entire day as six Jamaicans walked the streets and extended a random act of kindness that brought smiles and laughter to the many faces and hearts they came across.
- Kemar Daswell