(Originially posted on jamaicaobserver.com)
Denise Perkins (right), Jacob’s Ladder administrator, shares plans for the expansion of farming at their Moneague location with Catherine O’Brien, wife of Digicel chairman and patron of the Digicel Foundation Denis O’Brien. Listening in are Mustard Seed Communities International Executive Director Fr Garvin Augustine and Founder Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon.
As I write, the voices of the special needs children of Orange Bay, Portland, are echoing in my mind: “Look at me — I am special!” We took a long walk of compassion last week, beginning in Florida, where we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Friends of Good Shepherd International, which supports various charities in Jamaica. Governor General Sir Patrick Allen who with Lady Allen were guests of honour at the event, reminded us of an interesting legal case of Donoghue vs Stevenson in the UK in 1932, which resulted in a significant legal ruling, with the judge declaring that people owe each other “a duty of care”. He said this had echoes of Matthew 25: 40, which reminds us of our Christian responsibility to protect and nurture each other.
Sir Patrick urged us to show more care in order to “hold the moral fabric of a nation together”. He reminded us that no one is beyond redemption and congratulated Archbishop Dufour for establishing the Good Shepherd Foundation, and his sister Marie Dufour-Buteau for creating the philanthropic organisation. The large audience, including Consul General Franz Hall, applauded heartily as the governor general reminded them that Jamaica is a country of great promise, where the positives still outweigh the negatives.
Then Bishop of Montego Bay, the Most Rev Charles Dufour had seen the plight of sufferers of HIV/AIDS, and decided to establish a hospice in 1996 to ease their discomfort in their final days. Since then, the work of the Good Shepherd Foundation has blossomed into health care services, with the building of the huge Hope Health Teaching Clinic on the grounds of the Blessed Sacrament complex.