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Neighbourliness still prevalent in Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | May 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM

HELLO MI neighbour! I did not get her name so I'll just call her Dorothy. She rushed across to me in a New Kingston parking lot recently to borrow my jumper cable to assist someone whose battery had run down.

Actually, I felt commandeered. From the look on her face, the matter seemed very urgent. Without hesitation, I handed over the cable which she grabbed (with thanks) and dashed across the parking lot to a gentleman who was quite calm and unruffled. So what was the meaning of Dorothy's fuss? Well.

It mattered not that the gentleman was a total stranger to Dorothy. He needed help and it was her 'duty to assist him'. How noble! To compound the situation, a little child was in the motor vehicle and her 'suffer-the-little-children-to come-unto-me' heart couldn't allow this child to suffer this sort of inconvenience. This was a true neighbour - one who is possessed by the spirit of neighbourliness. Like the Good Samaritan of holy writ, her neighbour's misfortune was hers to address.

The spirit of neighbourliness, which is still prevalent in our country, is a very strong one. It moves people beyond the boundaries of selfishness, pride and even self-preservation to assist others. It causes one to put on the shoes of others in order to feel what they feel and be better equipped to help them. How can we communicate effectively with people whose language we do not understand? And how can we learn their language if we do not interact with them? Questions worthy of your contemplation.

Duty to help

Here is my point: we have a duty to help others. To carry out this duty without compromise, we must be willing to sit where others sit and even exchange places with them at times. After engaging a gentleman who approached me for financial assistance some years ago, I understood exactly why he resorted to begging. He was an unemployed father of three young children who were mostly hungry and seldom attended school. And yes, his story was verified.

To fully appreciate his reality, I reluctantly borrowed his begging cap and decided to beg in his place. Suffice it to say, the experience was not a pretty one, but it was quite an eye-opener. I believe that most of those who beg are victims of circumstances. They started out reluctantly, but over time, lost their sense of self-worth and have not been able to regain it.

The loss of self-worth is not only affecting beggars, but many others in our society. What accounts for the loss of interest in wearing clothing among young females? If we make it a point of duty to help others regain their self-worth, we could help to cover a 'multitude of sins' which stymie the fruitfulness of our motto: out of many we are one. One love!

Opportunities to help

1. Lydia, St Thomas, needs a sewing machine to assist with income generation.

2. Tracey, Clarendon - three-year-old daughter is unable to walk. Asking neighbours for financial assistance to start a little business in order to raise funds to pay doctors' bills.

3. Marjorie, Kingston - daughter is on dialysis thrice weekly at $8,000 per session. Also needs to install a permanent catheter at a cost of $30,000. Appealing to her neighbours for help.

4. Neighbour, St Ann, got a prescription from last year and still not able to fill it due to financial constraints.

5. Gloria, St Andrew, cancer patient with diabetes is asking neighbours for a refrigerator to store insulin.

Thanks to neighbours

Mr Fong, St Andrew, for donating a stove, a bed and clothing to Kenesha, St Andrew.

Ministry of Education for offering to assist nursing student who has had double mastectomy and wants to continue with her education.

Beverly, St Andrew, for offering a wheelchair to a needy neighbour.

Ms Monroe, Clarendon for offering a sewing machine to a needy neighbour.

To help, please call Silton Townsend at 334-8165, 884-3866, 299-3412 or deposit to acct # 351 044 276 NCB. (Bank routing #: JNCBJMKX) or send donations to Hello Neighbour c/o 53 Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 10; e-mail