Angels of Love - on a divine mission of care
Gleaner Honour Award nominee for Voluntary Service (Special Award)
Jevaughn's three-year-old body was being ravaged by cancer.
Seeking to help ease his suffering, hospital administrators turned to the charity group Angels of Love for assistance.
The group's volunteers quickly sprung into action and made arrangements for Jevaughn to get radiation and chemotherapy treatments. But his body would not respond.
"He was becoming bloated; his body was swollen and things like that," recalled Dzentra Stewart, one of the Angels of Love volunteers who became close friends with Jevaughn.
Although the three-year-old would later succumb to his illness, Stewart and other volunteers ensured that in his last days he was surrounded by love.
"It was just being able to go to the hospital and hold his hand or read a book to him or tell him that everything is going to be OK, even though you know it's going to be life-altering," added Stewart, who is co-chairman of the charity's Kingston chapter.
Though Jevaughn and several others have lost their fight with cancer and other illnesses, Angels of Love continues its mission of providing life-saving treatment, medical equipment, financial assistance and a sense of hope for scores of children who otherwise could not afford it.
This embodies the vision of Philip Lue when he started the charity in 2009. As a means of giving back to his country, Lue wanted to establish an organisation that caters to children across the island, particularly those with critical illnesses.
Brittany Quallo, the other co-chairman of the charity's Kingston chapter, recalled Lue's response when she first asked about the focus on children.
"He literally said voices in his head. He said he heard voices and believed it was angels (speaking to him) and that's where the name came from," Quallo shared.
Set plan in motion
She said Lue then set his plan in motion by getting acquainted with hospital administrators who would help him to identify children with life-threatening illnesses and craft a strategy to raise funds to finance the work of the charity.
At the same time, Quallo said Lue turned to social media and other methods to assemble a cadre of persons with a passion for serving critically ill children.
With the financial support of corporate donors and ordinary Jamaicans, and with a network of volunteers that spreads across seven high schools and both the University of the West Indies and the University of Technology, Angels of Love has expanded its operations to touch the lives of children across the entire island.
What sets Angels of Love apart from other charities, Quallo asserted during a recent interview, is that its volunteers are involved in almost every aspect of the children's lives.
"We help them with renovation to their homes so that when they go home after treatment, their environment is a little better. We help them with school supplies and things like that, so we are fully involved in their everyday lives," Quallo revealed.
Through its committed volunteers, Angels of Love is helping some of these children to live their dreams, which, in most cases, is to fly on an airplane.
"So we took them on an intra-island flight from Kingston to Montego Bay and that 15-20 minute flight, for some of them, was life-changing," Quallo said.
For one boy, she recalled, his dream was simply to go to Hellshire Beach in St Catherine because he had never been there before, while another just wanted a football.
"A lot of what we do is the care part of it; we focus a lot on the care. Our slogan lately is to 'make the rest of their lives the best of their lives'; so we try to make them as comfortable as possible and give them something to look forward to," she added.