If we can help, we always should

Monday, September 10, 2018

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This newspaper has often asserted in this space that Government can't do it alone.

Indeed, successive Jamaican Governments have emphasised the importance of partnerships with the private sector on a range of initiatives and services — not least in education and health.

It's not just about high-profile projects on a national scale which attract huge media coverage, but also those which make a difference at the community, grass-roots level.

In that respect, a story headlined 'Trelawny Samaritan refurbishes early childhood school' in yesterday's Sunday Observer is like fresh air.

We are told that Clark's Town businessman Mr Oliver Warren, who operates a construction and hardware firm, has spent $1.5 million to correct a leaking roof and other defects at Hyde and Gibraltar Basic School.

Mr Warren's explanation of what motivated him is worth repeating: “It's a few factors. I heard they were closing down the school and back in my youth days only two basic schools were in my community — this (Hyde and Gibraltar Basic School) and another one. The other one has closed down for some time now, so I had to save this one as part of the legacy of the community,” Mr Warren said.

He also said that “two years ago it came to my attention that the school was in a deplorable condition. After inspecting the roof I realised that it couldn't last for another year. With my (construction) experience I saw that the building could collapse at any time. As a businessman I became concerned, knowing that the lives of teachers and students could be in jeopardy.”

To get the job done without extended loss of class time, Mr Warren had to pull all his workers off money-earning projects. Then they found that the scope of work was even greater than originally anticipated. They got the additional work done as well, completing the entire project in two and a half weeks.

We are told that Mr Warren has also contributed cash to another basic school in neighbouring Jackson Town and has plans to rehabilitate restroom facilities at the local community centre.

Naturally, locals want to show their gratitude. We note the words of the principal of Hyde and Gibraltar Basic School Ms Nessa Knowles that “I don't know what we are going to do for him. We have to really, really plan something (for him)…”

That's good. However, if we are reading Mr Warren correctly, he didn't make the sacrifices to help his community because of any desire to be honoured or rewarded. We suspect he saw a need and decided to help the best way he could, because he could.

And that, we feel, should be an example for everyone. Most people are not in a position to take on the job of re-roofing a school as Mr Warren has done here. But everyone will be aware of a need, be it great or small, which he or she can fill. Perhaps it's the child next door missing out on school because there's no school shoes or no bus fare.

The point is, if help is needed and we can help, we always should. If Jamaicans, rich and poor, can learn to live by that principle, this country will be a far better place.

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