By Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall)
It’s a tiny community sandwiched between Big Pond and Bain Town.
It was after 4:30 one afternoon, when I was driving through the neighbourhood – as I’ve done many times over the years. And there she was. I spotted her handing out food and my interest was immediately piqued.
In the back of my mind, I knew there was a story there. I didn’t know who she was. But I know enough about Black Village to know someone giving out food was certainly not only doing something good, but something that has become necessary in these cash-strapped times with so many people out of work. Further, the forever-news reporter in me kicked in!
I abandoned where I was going to, doubled back, parked my vehicle, walked up to the makeshift food station and introduced myself. That’s how I met Lavonne. Lavonne Major.
What I stumbled across that day in what is considered an underprivileged, over-the-hill community, was a beautiful display of community.
Lavonne disclosed that what she was doing was an initiative which began at the beginning of summer and sponsored by a political candidate to give back to the community. But instead of focusing on that revelation, I decided to focus on Lavonne.
Lavonne is a resident of Hospital Lane north, located in Bain Town. But having been born and grew up in Black Village, she is all too aware of the struggles of her people. In fact, there are many similarities to those who reside in Bain Town.
“For a long time, Black Village has been on the back burner,” said Lavonne.
“We were like the rejected. People are going through. People are hurting. The food is something they look forward to. We have this opportunity to come and do something for our community,” said Lavonne with big, bright eyes and a beautiful smile.
Once a week, the food is cooked by Patricia Thompson, who lives in Black Village. Ms. Thompson’s son, Renardo, often joins Lavonne in distributing the mini containers of food which on that day had chicken, corn, macaroni and salad or some variation of those four. In fact, the make-shift food station is where Renardo, 28, would often wash vehicles.
“It means a lot to me because I know a lot of people who aren’t as fortunate and there are homes where they can’t have food on time. It’s a good thing. I do it from my heart to help the children and the people of this area,” said Renardo.
Meanwhile, giving back to the community has taken on special meaning to Lavonne.
“I know what it is to struggle and I know what it is to have. It’s a sensitive situation,” she shared.
“It’s motivation to continue because help is needed. This might seem small to some persons, but this is a big thing for a lot of people, for example a house with five children,” she stated.
Lavonne emphasized that discrimination does not take place and political affiliation does not matter when distributing the food.
“Coming from a Christian background, this goes beyond PLP or FNM. There’s a need. A lot of people are hurting. As a small as this plate is, this goes a long way for a lot of persons,” said the mother of three, who admitted to knowing what it is to ask for assistance in the past.
In fact, Lavonne’s seven-year-old son, Jonathan was sitting nearby with a dog he clearly had an affinity too.
“It’s important for them to see me doing this,” said Lavonne.
“At one point I remember one Christmas we had nothing and the other Christmas we had a lot. So what I did was I gave away and my son was concerned that just the year before we had nothing, but I teach my children to remember, not everyone is as fortunate. We had our season of having nothing, so when we can help someone, let’s be helpful. My kids can tell you, I’m always giving away something,” said the big-hearted woman.
On the day I stopped by, there were mainly children walking up to collect the food, but a few adults came too, including Paula Colebrooke, who said she looks forward to every Monday when the food distribution occurs. Her sister, Andrea Colebrooke, was also there with her one-year-old son Andre in a push.
A stone’s throw away was Idena Rolle, who was taking a bite of chicken and feeding three dogs with the remnants.
“I’m glad they are helping the community. People don’t have food all the time,” said Idena, matter-of-factly.
Meanwhile, Lavonne pointed out that although they were distributing food, there were no drinks. She said it would be a great help if some drinks are donated by a good Samaritan.
Lavonne is pleased though with the positive response she has been receiving from the residents of Black Village to the meals they receive once a week. She finds it a pleasure heading to the site of distribution when she gets off from her regular job at 3 pm.
“They look forward to some good, home cooked food. We’re out here until everything is gone. We’re in it for the long haul. I love people. It comes naturally. The youth and giving back are my passion. It’s something I love,” said Lavonne.