Thu | Oct 17, 2019

Ho Lung’s birthday wish is for J’cans to give to the poor

Published:Tuesday | September 17, 2019 | 12:15 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Two nuns examine the damage done to the kitchen of the Good Shepherd Home in Southside, Kingston, as fire razed the building on the night of August 27, 2019.
Two nuns examine the damage done to the kitchen of the Good Shepherd Home in Southside, Kingston, as fire razed the building on the night of August 27, 2019.

The name Father Richard Ho Lung has become synonymous with the poor in Jamaica.

Today, he celebrates his 80th birthday and he desires for Jamaicans to become more charitable towards the poor.

Forty years ago, he founded the Missionaries of the Poor, which operates eight facilities across the island for the poor, mentally challenged, and disabled.

The Good Shepherd Home his organisation operates in Southside, Kingston, and an adjoining tenement yard were gutted by fire on August 28, leaving dozens homeless and their belongings charred.

The 60 wards of the home are now residing at two other locations, with plans in the pipeline to repair the building.

“The dining space in each of the places is where the people are sleeping and sharing toilets and sharing food. We need lots of food, lots of help, and funds are needed to rebuild the place,” Ho Lung said.

The estimated repair cost is US$400,000 (J$54.4 million), and he said a portion of the profits from their production, Isaiah, which will begin on September 29, will be go towards the rebuilding effort.

“We really do need sponsorship for the building – for the homeless and destitute. So far, we have collected maybe about half the amount. Part of it has come from the United States and some has come also from Jamaica,” he said.

The Catholic priest considers 80 years a tremendous milestone – one he never imagined he would reach.

“Never, ever! When I was approaching 50, I said, ‘Okay, that’s it’. And then it went to 60, then it went to 70, and now it’s come to 80,” Ho Lung told The Gleaner. “The prayers I had, the Lord simply said, ‘Look, I could’ve taken your life, but I decided not to ... . There are more things to do.”

He added: “If the Lord gave me the opportunity to do much more for the poor than I’m doing now, that would make me extremely happy.”

Birthday wish

His ultimate birthday wish is for people to donate to the accounts of the Missionaries of the Poor for the reconstruction of the Good Shepherd Home and to continue the work of the charity.

“I’d be very, very grateful. When you send the gift, send a little note: Happy birthday, Father Ho Lung,” he said.

While he is not yet done working with the poor, the priest shared that he has been doing succession planning with the brothers.

“It’s being set up and so forth, but of course, you’re always anxious to see everything out of your hands and in the hands of the next generation,” said Ho Lung.

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judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com