Friday, July 29, 2011

a safe harbor

I just returned from the "Land of Too Much and Too Little"…where entitlement trumps despair and the dignity of a person’s life is a matter of chance. Where all-inclusive resorts are sheltered from the tide of suffering that ebbs and flows around them. Where the rain forest and coral reefs have been decimated by corporate greed. This is Jamaica--a vacationer’s paradise, where poverty is considered to be someone else’s problem. Where hopelessness aches and throbs out of sight.

Our Lady of Hope Children’s Home in Spur Tree, a short distance from Mandeville, shelters 34 children from three to eighteen years of age. It has survived for twenty years under the dedicated leadership of Father Roland Desine despite some seemingly insurmountable obstacles—hurricanes, hunger, illness, social and financial injustice, threats to its security, and environmental pollution. The children continue to thrive there despite lack of advocacy from both the government and the Church.

Last week I made my tenth trip there to help out…to do what little I could to support the effort to save these children, many of whom would already have succumbed to the pain of abandonment and  poverty had it not been for this safe harbor. I painted and scrubbed, and helped with the cooking and cleaning. I read with the children and played with them. 

I go back every year to see how the children have grown. To sustain a connection with them. To assure them that people do care and are willing to help. To hear their stories and to help them imagine a different ending.

There are pockets of refuge like this all over the world that are maintained by people who devote their lives to aiding to the poor, abandoned, displaced and hopeless souls that “but for the grace of God” could be any one of us. Not all of us are called to do this kind of work…but we can all do something to help. To learn more, “google” Our Lady of Hope Children’s Home or go to If you are so moved, contributions can be made to:
Our Lady of Hope
Box 6
Spur Tree, Manchester
Jamaica, West Indies
c/o Father Roland Desine
Or you can sponsor a child for a monthly donation of $50 and receive regular communication from him/her. And, believe it or not, you can connect with some of the older children on facebook—Lamoya and Samoya Brown, Kuwayne McLeod, Richard Lawrence, Chrisopher Stephenson, Sabrina Richards, Everton Ellis, Shanaski Edwards, Renae Josephs, and Danielle Roberts, among others. Tell them I sent you. Your friendship is worth everything to them.

“I have known happiness,
for I have done good work.”
--Robert Louis Stevenson—
In my post this weekend, I’ll tell you why this kind of work is a lot like writing.

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