OCHO RIOS, St Ann - Help has come from an unlikely source for four-year-old Noadiah Watson who was born with abnormalities to her hands and feet which required corrective surgery.
Recently, the Community Safety and Security Branch of the St Ann police handed over a cheque for $309, 808 to Noadiah's mother Michelle Mattis of Mammee Bay in St Ann to assist with the US$37,000 (approximately $3.2 million) needed for the surgery.
Young Noadiah is scheduled to undergo the first part of the procedure, which will see her getting a prosthetic leg, on September 13 at the Miami Children's Hospital in the United States, eight days before her fifth birthday.
"She understands what's happening and she's happy, she says it (the surgery) is taking too long," Mattis told the Jamaica Observer North East as she expressed gratitude to persons who have been assisting her daughter.
"Noadiah is a very happy, warm, loving and friendly child," Mattis said of her daughter whose condition was first brought to national attention in a news cast by CVM TV.
Mattis said she was grateful for the donations she has received from the police, individuals and businesses who have contributed in one way or another.
"We really appreciate it. The police, business people, all the persons who participated, all the persons who purchased a ticket for the concert, I just want to say a big thank you," Mattis said.
Woman Sergeant Lorna Small of the Community Safety and Security Branch spearheaded a drive to get assistance for Noadiah and hosted a concert at the Ocho Rios High School auditorium in July to help raise funds.
The concert did not get the desired results, however, that did not deter Small and her team and they embarked on another initiative where members of the business community were called on to assist.
Small told the Observer North East that a number of entities including Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, St Ann's Bay branches of the National Commercial Bank and Bank of Nova Scotia, Dolphin Cove, Ocho Rios High, and a lady identified as Shirley Prince all contributed.
"If you meet this little girl you just want to help her, as soon as you meet her you just fall in love with her," Small said, adding that the assistance also formed part of the community safety and security mandate.
Small also singled out senior superintendent and head of the Community Safety and Security Branch at the time, James Forbes, who she said travelled to St Ann to meet with Mattis when her team decided they wanted to help.
Small explained that the support for Noadiah has been overwhelming and said she anticipates that other groups and individuals will see the work of the police and join in the effort and offer whatever assistance possible.
The cheque was handed over recently during a ceremony at Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios where a number of persons who attended, also pledged to offer further support to Mattis and her bubbly daughter.
Meanwhile, Mattis said the assistance from the police has placed the Jamaica Constabulary Force and its members in a different light, as she now recognises that the police not only fight crime, but assist the public in different ways.
"I really appreciate what they have done for Noadiah," she reiterated.
Mattis also heaped praises on CVM's anchor Kerlyn Brown whose feature on her daughter inspired the police and other Jamaicans to help.
"All this came as a result of what Kerlyn did for Noadiah; she came to my house, she played with her, and I just want to extend thanks to her," she added.
Mattis said Noadiah's prosthetic leg will have to be changed every year and the approximately $3.2 million needed for her surgery does not include the cost for the prosthesis.