When the crowds stormed the Bastille, the French military fortress and prison over two centuries ago, the last thing on their minds were the sick children at the as yet non-existent at the time, Bustamante hospital in Kingston, Jamaica.
The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 ushered in the French Revolution during the reign of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, and every year on that date the French celebrate the occasion as their National Day.
Constrained by the novel coronavirus pandemic this year, the traditional celebrations came with a difference, this time bringing joy to children at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, chosen by French Ambassador Denys Wibaux.
The ambassador, unable to be there in person taped a heartfelt message for children, telling them that on Bastille Day: “We celebrate the values of the French Republic: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Fraternity, that means brotherhood, friendship and mutual support between all men and women.
“It is in this spirit of fraternity that the French embassy is happy to visit the Bustamante children's hospital today and we hope to bring some joy to all the children,” said Mr Wibaux.
By joy, he meant the gifts of boxes of French food and pastry, toys, and a television for the hospital, “which I hope and trust will respond to an important need of the learning centre of the hospital”.
“I wish on this occasion to salute the personal, medical and administrative staff of the hospital. I also have a special thought for the families and parents of the children. It is important that they receive all the love. Love is important in the recovery process,” the French envoy said.
The treat also featured a puppet show by Pierre Lemiere, a French citizen who adopted Jamaica as his home, with the assistance of students of the Edna Manley College of the Visual Arts.
— Desmond Allen