It is impossible to go to any news site at the moment without finding a headline about the coronavirus. The depressing statistics and stories just keep coming, and with every passing day it is becoming more apparent that those on the front lines – health care workers, supermarket staff, police and anyone risking their health to help others – are bona fide heroes.
In the midst of the misery there have been some bright moments, one of which was the video that went viral of people all over the world, out on their balconies, singing and applauding the hard work of those in the toughest jobs right now.
Inspired by the positive vibes from this international movement, members of Cayman’s community have decided to step up and join the sound heard around the world – applause and appreciation. From conch shells being blown in North Sound Estates to dancing on the balconies of condos and clapping from doorsteps, residents are displaying Caymankind at its best.
Jennifer Grant-McCarthy, in the Northwest Point area, was trying to find something that she and her kids could look forward to each day once the shelter-in-place regulations were initiated by the Cayman Islands government.
“I was so inspired by the singing in Italy, that when I saw the burgeoning ‘clapping for frontline workers’ initiative overseas, I knew that it was something Cayman could do,” she said. “I popped it on social media and contacted a few friends. The response was amazing! Within a couple of days, Lynne Byles from Tower Marketing put her creativity behind it, created the group #caymanstrong and the [idea blossomed]. There are almost 1,100 members on that page and growing.”
Grant-McCarthy said she felt that most of the people living in Cayman wanted to feel united in something positive and powerful.
“For those of us clapping for one minute each night at 7pm, it’s an awesome way to close out the day,” she said. “I believe it teaches our children pride, resilience and gratitude.
“It is simply a show of gratitude for those who are working to keep us safe while we shelter at home. It is my hope that it brings some comfort to those who feel isolated and alone and that for one minute each night we are completely #caymanstrong.”
Chris Bailey, known for his charity work when he is not running long distances, has been testing out his DJ skills each night.
“At 7pm each night, all the neighbours at Solara and Cypress Pointe North gather [on their balconies] and gardens,” Bailey said. “[At Solara] we clap for our frontline services, then the dance-off starts with me playing great tunes, followed by a response from Ian Lambert on the Cypress Pointe North side.
“We do this back and forth for around 45 minutes each night. Everyone dances, sings and generally has a great time with song requests coming in from all the neighbours.”
What started with just a couple of people has now grown to over 20 households, according to Bailey. When asked how he got them to join in, the answer was simple: “If you play it loud enough, they will dance! We also shared WhatsApp numbers, and I encouraged requests over the microphone.”
Nicola Agemian in Snug Harbour was browsing Facebook on the same day that the 24-hour lockdown was in place. “I came across the ‘show your appreciation’ post to our essential workers,” she said.
“Snug Harbour has a wonderful Neighbourhood Watch programme, so I reached out on our discussion board to suggest that our community come out in support. I really wanted to video it so it could be shared with those people that we were applauding; however, I didn’t want to become the ‘breaking curfew’ story. So, I asked our neighbours if, on this particular evening, they could come out at 6:45pm instead.”
The request was a big success, with families taking the time to make signs that paid tribute to workers in Cayman and to their families working the front lines abroad.
“We had goose bumps, driving around and hearing the clapping and the cheering,” she said. “I hope that the Snug Harbour community will continue to step to its doors at 7pm and raise its applause before the quiet settles in for the evening.”