Connection between Barbados and Panama can be fruitful

“WE have a lot to gain by building a relationship with Panama, but the first step is to understand the connection between Panama and Barbados.”

This was the word coming from Filmmaker, Producer and Writer, Alison Saunders, who conceptualised “Panama Dreams: A Caribbean Journey” for personal reasons; mainly to uncover the story of a Barbadian ancestor who went to build the Canal, but also to tell a larger story of the strength, fortitude, endurance, reliability and commitment of the Caribbean people. This, she believes, has the potential to empower and build self-esteem among young people in the Caribbean, Panama and their Diaspora.

While speaking to The Barbados Advocate recently she indicated that, “We need to celebrate this history with Panama. Both Panamanians and Barbadians can benefit from this relationship. Panama is losing their connection with the Caribbean and Panama is a booming place and if we build closer relationships with Panama, it would also augur well for Barbados.”

According to her, “I started the project since 2011. I have gone to Panama as a tourist, but it seems to be a forgotten part of our history. My mother told me we had an ancestor who went to Panama and this passion project began. The Panama Canal, a major feat of human achievement, is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Engineered by the French and US, mainly people from tiny Caribbean islands built this wonder, with the largest group from Barbados, where it is estimated 40 000 workers migrated when the population was approximately 180 000 persons. The film will become a primary tool to help bridge and solidify the connections between the younger generation, their ancestors and the contribution they made, enhancing the need to reveal this story on both sides of the geographical divide. Apart from its educational role, it can be a catalyst for heritage tourism and commerce. For the Barbadian and Jamaican persons, in particular, almost everybody has an ancestor who went to Panama, therefore it is important to know this history and achievement.”

The entrepreneur added, “We have excellent actors who bring the story alive. It is such an exciting journey and persons are interested in their ancestry and it is important to find out who you are and to understand your journey. The premiere will be March 17, which will be a red carpet event and the film will officially open in cinemas April 4.” (NB)

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