Mon | Jun 25, 2018

Extraordinary Jamaicans

Published:Sunday | January 20, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Marcia Higgins poses with Shaun Birch, senior marketing executive for social media at Digicel, after being presented with a replica of the $100,000 prize cheque.-photos by Gladstone Taylor/freelance photographer
Oneal 'Skillo' Morrison

Three extraordinary Jamaicans were selected from a pool of 30 nominees to receive a cash prize of $100,000 each. The three were chosen by fans of the Digicel Jamaica Facebook page and a Digicel internal judging panel.

- Arthur Hall

Marcia Higgins

The joy of giving

The satisfaction she gets from giving has propelled Marcia Higgins to extend a helping hand to thousands of persons for more than 10 years, and she has no plans to stop anytime soon.

Higgins is not wealthy. In fact, working as a mid-level employee at a state-agency, she faces the challenges that most Jamaicans are facing in these difficult economic times.

But that has not stopped her from giving help to persons in need, most of whom she has never met before.

"From my own resources, I will donate to persons in need," Higgins told The Sunday Gleaner.

"I will see a request in a newspaper, on the television, or generally just hear about somebody in need. I will make a contribution.

"It is generally financially, but sometimes it is clothing or children's toys," added Higgins.

Higgins was "totally elated" when she won, having been nominated by a friend of 12 years.

But even if she had not been selected as one of the winners, she had no plans to stop giving to the needy.

"I know what it's like not to have, so if I have and somebody needs it, I will give it to them. It's just how I am."

Higgins grew up in an inner-city community in the Corporate Area, and even though she does not live there anymore, her early experiences of persons in need remain at the forefront of her thoughts.

"Two weeks ago, I put out an old chest of drawers because it mash up and somebody ask me for it. So even if you don't want it, somebody else might need it.

"You know what they say, 'one man's trash is another man's treasure'," said Higgins.

The mother of two boys has always embraced Christianity and was baptised just under two years ago at a New Testament Church of God.

Today, she believes that she is doing God's work by giving to the less fortunate, and the Best Care Children's Home is one of her favourites.

"I just love giving to these children because I can see their need."

Higgins recently nominated the children's home for a Facebook competition organised by Sagicor and won a prize of $100,000 for the facility.

"That made me feel real good, and I just hope others will help them because they need it," said this extraordinary Jamaican who puts the needs of others before her own.

Marcia Blagrove

Tons of love for children Hall

With two children of her own and no husband in her life, plus a full-time job, you would think that Marcia Blagrove would be too busy to take on the troubles of anyone else. You would be wrong.

The ever-smiling Corporate Area resident has been mother to dozens of children over the years, and her door remains open to any other child who needs a mother.

"My house is always full of children. I just love kids and the aged. I don't know why I'm not a teacher or running a nursery," Blagrove, with a twinkle in her eye, told The Sunday Gleaner.

"My friends will just drop off their kids and leave them, and my son will just bring friends home. Some of the children I don't even know their parents, but I still have love for them."

Working as a middle-manager in a private-sector entity, Blagrove faces the daily financial challenges that most Jamaicans face, but that's 'no problem'.

"Many times when I give the children the food, I don't eat anything because I didn't know that they were coming, and when them come, I can't tell them no," said Blagrove, getting serious for the first time.

"I have to give them something to eat. I can't leave them hungry," she added with a determined look.

Over the years, scores of children have called Blagrove 'mom' or 'auntie'.

"Sometimes, oh God, when I see them and them remember me, I don't even remember them, and then them say something like, 'Yes Auntie Marcia, is you buy me the shoes to go to school'," recalled Blagrove as she struggled to hold back her natural smile.

She declared that despite economic challenges, she would continue to care for any child in need "because it's something I love to do".

"I was brought up without knowing my mother or father, only my grandparents, so because of that, I always want to be a mother for some child who has not received any love - just to hug them and tell them that you love them.

"There are so many children out there who have never had anybody to love them. When I go to my son's primary school in the mornings and hug and kiss him, some of the kids yearn for it, so every morning I hug every child in that class and tell them that I love them."

Blagrove is a long-time Christian and is convinced that God provides for her specially as she takes care of these children.

"As long as the Lord blesses me with health and strength, I will continue to take care of any child who needs help. I don't have money, but the Lord provides.

"There are some days when I don't know what I'm going to give them to eat, but I tun my hand and make fashion, and God blesses the hand.

"Sometimes I don't go to the supermarket and me house full of food. People just call me and say, 'I bring a piece of yam for you'."

Oneal Morrison

A passion to teach

Oneal 'Skillo' Morrison has spent the past 17 of his 32 years of life teaching.

Most of that time, he has taught for free outside the formal school system.

It is only in the past two years that Morrison has worked formally as a teacher at the Constant Spring Primary and Junior High School.

But even then, this accomplished footballer, who has represented some of the top teams in the Corporate Area, continues to offer free classes to young adults every evening.

"My priority is to help the people, so sometimes when I can't go training and the team don't understand that I have to be there for the people, I just walk away and leave it," Morrison told The Sunday Gleaner.

Mathematics is his strong point, but with most of the persons in his evening classes coming from inner-city communities, he does a little bit more.

"The focus is on math, but we try to focus on everything because we want to develop rounded individuals," said Morrison, who received his formal training at the University of Technology.

"I have always been doing this teaching, but I have never done it for reward. My reward is just to see people getting ahead in life and to hear them say 'thank you very much, Skillo'.

"Those are the basic things for me. Not money, not material reward, just the feeling of joy that you can do something good for someone with the little that you have."

Morrison says his evening class, held at the Constant Spring Primary and Junior High School, now has 69 persons from the surrounding communities of Cassava Piece and Big Yard, but some persons come from as far away as Grants Pen and Franklin Town.

Other classes, including English and social studies, have more than 100 students, forcing Morrison to depend on teaching help from his friends Kamar Jordan, Tanisha Luton, and Sharna-Kaye Markland.

"We are focusing now on the adult classes for persons who want to sit the math exam, and they can't afford to pay to go evening classes, so they come here for free.

"We also get calls from persons in the rural area who want their children to come to the free classes."

Morrison noted that none of his friends charged for the time they spent teaching the classes. He added that the principal of the Constant Spring Primary and Junior High School, Nellie Box, facilitates the classes by opening up the school compound to him whenever he needs it.

"As a youth growing up in an inner-city community, I looked at the needs, and with many children having children, I decided to help them so that they can help their children with their homework," said Morrison.