Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Donald Powell - Caring for our heroes

Published:Thursday | December 31, 2015 | 12:48 PM
Donald Powell carrying out clean-up work inside the National Heroes Park in Kingston last October, hours before the National Heroes Day wreathlaying in the park.

For 16 years Donald Powell has been the caretaker of the monuments at the National Heroes Park.

The park has been an attraction for locals and tourists alike for many years, as it houses the monuments of the National Heroes and past prime ministers of Jamaica.

However, not many people concern themselves with its upkeep.

The resident of Allman Town, and proud father of three daughters, had worked on the Simon Bolivar statue in downtown Kingston before working at National Heroes Park and today expresses joy in his work.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Powell explained why he cleans the monuments.

“It have to clean 'cause there is visitors from all over the world coming here and some of them come to visit a special monument, like Marcus (Garvey).”

The caretaker says that Garvey’s monument is the most visited by tourists. He says this is his favourite monument to clean as he likes what the nation's first national hero stood for.

“Marcus Garvey elevate a lot of people,” said Powell as he told of his admiration for Garvey’s work.

“I enjoy doing my work. Most of the people that come here say I’m doing my job, people take my picture or ask me to take picture for them,” Powell said.

However, cleaning monuments is not the only job Powell does at the park, as he often takes the time to clean the surrounding areas to make sure it meets his standards.

Powell is very protective of the monuments and will often tell children not to soil them when they play. 

His duties continue as he is often in charge of  putting up the flags in the park when events are being kept. He goes beyond the call of duty by also educating people, including the soldiers, about the history of the monuments.

He says he tries to inform the children who visit on trips about the surrounding buildings as well as the monuments.

The family man sometimes has to do overtime when important events come up which lessens his time with his children.

This includes Norman Manley’s birthday when the caretaker says he cleans, paints and prepares the monument for the occasion.

He complained that sometimes he could not take care of his family properly because of his pay.

However, in spite of this, Powell still takes great pride in his work and is often told by patrons of the park that he “behaves as if the park is his home”.

He often scolds people who try to deface the monuments or show disregard towards the property.

Powell also works at the Pantomime when it is in season.

Powell proudly told The Gleaner that he has been praised for his excellent work on many occasions.