NASSAU, BAHAMAS – For the past 24 years, the One Family Junkanoo group has been a staple in the East Street community, creating leaders and helping those in need. It is an achievement that group chairman Darren Bastian says its members are most proud of.
Despite winning the 2018 Boxing Day Junkanoo parade, Bastian said their greatest win is the impact they have had in the lives of young people. He quoted the group’s former leader, Jackson Burnside, saying ‘“Yeah we want win on Bay Street, but we want also win on East Street.”’
The group’s chairman is proud of the community One Family has built.
“We are so deep in our community and we are deep in each other. We talk constantly through the year, even if it’s a problem with family. even if it’s a problem like ‘my car break down,’ we have that family relationship,” he said.
“The biggest story in our organization that has yet to be told is that we are a breeding ground for leaders. That there is the true story and essence of One Family, and we are developing leaders.”
Wadlet “Greedy” Meris has been a member of the group for 17 years. He remembers his time as a young boy on East Street walking through One Family’s shack and how it helped him to grow into a community leader.
“Living right there across the road from the shack, always trying to be involved helping out. Eventually we became the ones building the costumes,” Meris said.
This year Meris helped One Family win the Boxing Day Junkanoo parade with his costume ‘Round and Round the garden’. When asked how important it is for young persons to get involved in Junkanoo, he said there are many positives.
“You get to be surrounded by a lot of positive people; people who can help you out. It takes you away from anything negative, anything idle. It keeps you busy.”
Bastian proudly spoke about Meris as an example of One Family’s legacy to create leaders in the community.
“That’s the leader of this shack, a young man who is less than 30. How does this translate when he goes to a job? He understands. When he has his family, he understands everything. That’s the story, 25 years, and that’s the story of One Family,” Bastian said.
He noted that it is the contributions of each group member that keeps One Family together.
“All of those guys are professionals in their fields, they came up in One Family, you can’t beat that. That’s why I am still today involved in this. We don’t get along all the time, but we understand. That’s what makes a family.”
Article written by Whitley Cargill – Eyewitness News Online Intern