Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Enjoying the great outdoors

Published:Sunday | January 4, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Some of the delicious breakfast prepared on site.
A sumptuous breakfast indeed.
Citizens wait patiently to be served breakfast.
Exuberant carollers return after completing the circuit.
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Carolling in Lauriston, St Catherine

Joan Williams, Contributor

I have heard about people going around carolling at Christmas from I was a child but the first time I saw it or participated was in 2010 when the president of the Lauriston Citizens Association, Audley Nain, JP, invited me to join them.

I had such a wonderful time then that when the invitation was again extended this year, I had no difficulty setting out from Kingston at 5.30 a.m. with friends Richard and Sharon to drive over.

Yes, I know, when some people hear of Lauriston, that area off the Sligoville road in St Catherine, the farthest thing from their mind is carol singing. This is because this community was the scene of a widely reported and most horrific murder on July 20, 2011, which shocked the nation. For it was there that Charmaine Cover-Rattray and her daughter, while asleep at their home, were killed and mutilated by men who had kicked off their door, entered and murdered them, then cut off their heads and dumped them some distance away.

The reality, though, is that so many communities in Jamaica accommodate two sections. In the case of Lauriston, there is the residential community where artisans, businesspeople, returning residents and young professionals have built their homes, and there they maintain a strong, active citizens association.

Then there is a section nearby which borders the Rio Cobre where squatters have made their homes, and you do not have to guess who have given the community a bad name! Anyway, I have never been fearful of visiting Lauriston, even when that bloody news was being reported, as living in Jamaica, one learns where it is safe to venture and where to avoid.

Whereas only a few of us set out in the dark on Christmas morning 2014, we ended up having a whale of a time belting out carols and waking up most of the neighbourhood, and by the time we had completed the circuit and arrived at the community centre the number of carollers had grown significantly.

BREAKFAST TIME!

At the community centre, the pots were already boiling preparing the green bananas, dumplings and hot chocolate while the breadfruits were being roasted nearby. How this annual Christmas breakfast is organised is that those who are good cooks bring their special dishes, while others prefer to donate funds towards having the breakfast prepared on site. But no one was left out even if they cannot afford to contribute in any way.

All during the morning, people were pouring into the community centre with pots and other containers filled with delicious ackee and codfish, curried chicken, roti, turned cornmeal, fried johnnycakes, run dung and even hominy porridge. So there was food galore for everyone, and delicious desserts to boot.

This community centre is located on land that the citizens lease and using a 40-foot container, converted it into a real utility centre, fully furnished with benches and tables made by residents themselves.

While the carollers and other early risers waited for the rest of the community to gather and the food to be prepared, Nain, who is in his own right one of Jamaicas most outstanding tenors and a former member of The Jamaican Folk Singers, led everyone in more carolling while real country hot chocolate was served to stave off the creeping hunger. Then the Rev Simmonds, who had journeyed from old Harbour, delivered a sermon based on the story of the Good Samaritan ... love thy neighbour as you love yourself.

By breakfast time, just before 9 a.m., the crowd had swelled significantly and it was interesting to see it was the young people who came filing in last, for despite our efforts to wake them up with our loud carolling, they obviously had difficulty getting out of bed after a late night out at grand market and other Christmas Eve events.

It was a great get-together culminating with an absolutely wonderful breakfast and every single person getting a Christmas present from under the tree. And guess what? The grounds were as clean as a whistle when it was all over!

I swear, if more communities adopted the spirit of the residents of Lauriston, their communities would also become among the cleanest, friendliest and most socially conscious places in the country. For the real Lauriston is nothing like the picture painted by the bad publicity some years ago but it is a community that emanates self- reliance, environmental awareness and a strong spirit of outreach to all in a word, a model Jamaican community.


Feedback to the article on Real Angels, Donna Roberts and Billy Powell

michaelchuckmtr@gmail.com:

Your last two reports on the trips to Kwame Falls and the Real Angels from Junction and Avocat were really interesting and informative.

As you continue to explore our beautiful places and people in our blessed island we are depending on you to write more pleasant articles, as an alternative to all the unpleasant events that we are forced to read in the newspaper. Thanks again and keep on writing.

Joy Godden: I think that Donna Roberts you wrote about was a schoolmate of mine for she was a wonderful person then, always thinking of others. I hope you can help me reconnect with her. Thanks for the wonderful article. Jamaica has great angels all around but they are often overlooked as crime causes the decent people to be overlooked.

fatty@hotmail.com: I love the beautiful places you are exposing us to, Joan. Next year I am definitely going to start enjoying the wonderful Jamaican outdoors myself.

Joan Williams, moderator of JOAN WILLIAMS ONLINE broadcast on POWER 106, describes herself as an unapologetic addict to the Jamaican outdoors. A foundation member of Fun & Thrills Adventure Club, she explores the island at any given opportunity cycling, hiking, or swimming with that group, family, Jah 3 and anyone else who will have her. In 1995, she published the popular Tour Jamaica and the fourth edition is now an ebook available at;http://www.amazon.com/Tour-Jamaica-Joan-Williams-ebook/dp/B00EJWCSHS/ref ... Contact; gratestj@gmail.com



Joan Williams, moderator of JOAN WILLIAMS ONLINE broadcast on POWER 106, describes herself as an unapologetic addict to the Jamaican outdoors. A foundation member of Fun & Thrills Adventure Club, she explores the island at any given opportunity cycling, hiking, or swimming with that group, family, Jah 3 and anyone else who will have her. In 1995, she published the popular Tour Jamaica and the fourth edition is now an ebook available at;http://www.amazon.com/Tour-Jamaica-Joan-Williams-ebook/dp/B00EJWCSHS/ref ... Contact; gratestj@gmail.com