From Belgium with love

Sports

From Belgium with love

Reggae Boy Lawrence offers help to beleagured hometown Bull Bay

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Deputy Sport Editor

Sunday, March 29, 2020

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Reggae Boyz defender Kemar “Taxi” Lawrence has moved to assist his community of Bull Bay as measures by the Jamaican Government to contain the deadly coronavirus have caused disruptions in normal day-to-day life.

The Belgium-based player has coordinated a charity effort from coronavirus-ravaged Europe with friends to get food packages to as many residents as possible, with deliveries expected to start today.

With the first recorded case of the novel virus traced to Seven and Eight Miles in the St Andrew community, a security forces-imposed quarantine of both communities was in effect for over two weeks. On Friday night, the lockdown started a phase discontinuation.

Lawrence, who plays professionally for topflight Belgian club RSC Anderlecht, says he felt inspired to play his part in helping his fellow Jamaicans after watching the action of a Jamaican businessman.

He said he has purchased, and plans to purchase, more food items to be distributed to some members of the affected communities.

Lawrence said he has expanded his support to include some people living in Nine Miles, which is not under quarantine, but some residents have been having difficulties coping with loss of income and the orders to limit movement.

“The other day I saw someone who I look up to doing some outreach for people in another community who might not be able to afford like food, and so on…I saw him buy food stuff and drive his van to give away the stuff to people, and that was an inspiration for me.

“I am just trying to do the same by making that step to reach out to some people in my community who I know it's hard on right now, especially that some of them have no work now,” said Lawrence.

The former New York Red Bulls standout, who is trapped in Belgium, said it was not easy to coordinate the effort, but with a sense of commitment from his relatives, family and friends, and his own drive, the mission was made possible.

“You know you are not home [Jamaica], and everything you want to do back there is a bit more difficult…but being difficult does not mean it can't be done. I am the kind of person who is always trying to give and someone who will always try to take care people around me, so I was determined.

“I have friends who I trust, friends who will go above and beyond for me, because they know I will do the same for them…so I am getting this done through friends and family.

“I have a relative who works in a big supermarket, so I called him up and placed an order for the stuff I wanted, and then wired the money to him so he could pay for everything I ordered, he will then deliver everything to my friends, and then they will package and then bring everything inside the community to hand out to people,” Lawrence told the Jamaica Observer.

The former Harbour View FC player, who also has roots in Central Kingston, says for the moment his assistance is focused on Bull Bay.

“For now I am mainly focusing on Bull Bay because the community is being quarantined and people are not getting to move the way they want to move, even though in these times I try to encourage people to stay in and stay out of the groups, and by doing this, the situation with the virus can be over quickly.

“So by me doing this it will help, because it will limit numbers of people wanting to come out…so for now it's Bull Bay, but I might I try to see if I can get some stuff to couple areas in Southside,” he said.

Lawrence, an exciting wide player, says it's in his nature to give, so his latest act of generosity will not surprise many people.

“Firstly, giving always bring me joy. I always feel good when I see everybody around me happy and striving and that motivates and drives me.

“Honestly, I am not thinking about the money, I am just thinking about the people who need the help. We are from places where we didn't have money and we understand what goes on in every day life,” noted the 27-year-old.

Lawrence said he wasn't sure if other Boyz teammates were doing other charities to assist in this time of crisis and uncertainty.

“I don't know if other players are doing it, and I know if I reached out, some would be happy to support…this was not something that I reached out to anybody else about, I just saw somebody that I followed on Instagram doing something good and I just decided to do something similar.

“Maybe some of the guys [players] will see this and may want to do their own stuff. We are always urging people to come out and support [the team], but what happens when people see us supporting them, so I think something like this will probably bring people closer to us,” he reasoned.

Lawrence cautioned that he didn't want people to think that his action was aimed at some reciprocal return down the road.

“Don't get me wrong, we are not thinking about football now and that this will help fans to come out, this was just out of love and that we care about each other. Giving just feels good to me and it doesn't matter how small or big,” he ended.

So far Jamaica has recorded 26 cases and one death of the novel coronavirus, while global figures of the pandemic stand at a staggering 559,103 cases and some 25,000 deaths.


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