MONDAY MAN - Food for needy neighbour

Anesta Henry,

Added 01 November 2010

WHEN HE WAS nine years old, his mother instructed him to sit on a rock in the yard of his Potters Ville, Dominica home. At first he was hesitant; all he wanted to do was join his neighbourhood friends in an afternoon game of football. But he dared not move; he listened carefully as she said to him: “Of all the things that I want you to learn, what I want you to learn most is the exercise of charity.” Thinking he had heard enough, the eager lad tried to get up; but each time he moved, his mother grabbed him by his ear and said: “Son, pay attention to what I’m teaching you because it will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.” That conversation was of no interest to him then, but today, Rommel Lawrence is glad he received such advice. Because he has fed and clothed hundreds of families and individuals across the Caribbean, for which he feels richly blessed. Sixty-two-year-old Lawrence currently feeds scores of homeless across Barbados through a feeding programme which he financially supports from within his own pockets, but never complains. As he prepared lunch for his “family” the Dominican said his feeding programme officially started on August 29, 1979, when hurricane David visited his homeland. “I had to walk from an area called Cane Field which is along the coast of Roseau [Dominica’s capital] to see if my father and sister were still alive. When I got to Roseau and found out that my sister and father were okay, I saw some people walking through the town with their hands on their heads looking for something to eat. “It was then that the lord placed it in my heart to start a feeding programme for the people. On September 3, I began the feeding programme and I have not stopped since,” said Lawrence whose charitable work recently landed him a position as one of this year’s First Caribbean International Bank unsung Heroes. The human management consultant, who has been going into Bridgetown every Sunday morning for over 12 years, said: “The people know that they can look for me any time between four and six in the morning. “There was this particular woman who would not accept anything from me for two years, no matter how I tried to give to her. “I saw her walking to the garbage bin . . . . One day I went to her and said, ‘Ma’am, I have some food here and some beverage. Would you like to have some?’  “She says, ‘Why don’t you stop coming to me and offering me food? I do not want anything from you or anybody else’. And I said, ‘Ma’am, if you do not want the food, I am going to eat it right in front of you’, and she said, ‘No,  I am going to eat it.’ “I found her reactions strange at first, but when she explained to me that somebody had poisoned her when she was younger, I understood,” he said. The evangelist, who has travelled the Caribbean, said that while on the road, sometimes he unintentionally stopped crimes from being committed.  “I remember there were these five young men who were always together and they use to sleep on cardboards. One particular morning when I showed up they scattered in particular directions with weapons in their hands and one of them said, ‘That’s our friend, that’s Lawrence’. “When they came to me instead of talking to them about the weapons, I spoke about becoming employed. “Today, all five of these young men have found employment. One day I was walking to Standards Distributors and this young man rushed to me. He said, ‘Skipper, you don’t recognise me. I am the fella who had the cutlass. I want to let you know I am now getting work because of what you told me.” Lawrence said he recognised God had blessed him in so many ways and that that was why he felt honoured to give back to God’s creations.

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