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Please Help Us Rebuild Good Shepherd Home!
Posted in News
Good Shepherd Home caught fire from the two buildings adjoining our home for 70 homeless men at 71 Tower Street. The residents are cripples, some mentally retarded – all beautiful and full of love, but discarded and brought in by the police, by neighbors, by hospitals. They have nothing; no one to care for them, no home, no money, no food. They are not angry, they are not ungrateful, they love the Brothers who care for them, and the visitors who take time to be with them. Otherwise, with the brothers, they help to care for their fellow homeless and to bring good news to one another.
I love them. The Brothers love them. God help us! Where shall they live? It was night time, 27th of August. Two shacks in the neighbourhood on Fleet Street had caught on fire – it was a sudden and ferocious blaze. People run out of their shacks.
We are a two story building. The flames went above our concrete walls and passed through the upper floor of concrete louvers. The flames entered the louvers of the chapel and the entire chapel were suddenly in a blaze. Then the refectory caught fire on the second floor and penetrated the floor which was the ceiling of the kitchen, storage and is right next to our dining space and dormitory of our homeless residents, sixty are down-stairs, and ten to left side up-stairs.
Our trustworthy men Louis and Andrew, smelled and saw the smoke. There were cries from our neighbors on Tower Street “Fire! Fire!” They called the Brothers. Brother Roche came down with the Brothers in our trucks, the smoke were running fast to the dormitory. Thank God the neighbors were brave. The fire brigade were also quick. The neighbors led by Louis and Andrew, the Brothers and our neighbors lifted up the homeless and destitute who cried out and were in a state of panic.
It was nevertheless orderly, it was alert, it was full of love. Since there were so many cripples many were lifted out in wheel chairs, some were just lifted by hands out and carried – weeping and praying, some were carried on the back of the Brothers and neighbors: then the mattresses, then the clothes, then the food. Four men were trapped by the smoke thick as a wall on the second floor. They cried out and yelled but they were against the wall, and the smoke was advancing towards them. One of our neighbors Andrew ran pulled out the men through the smoke. Thus Louis and the Brothers and other neighbors, grabbed forced and took them through our gate and into the street. One man Pow Pow would not come. Andrew lifted him up and forced him through the upper window. On top of the upper stairs outside the window Pow Pow was dragged out and lowered from the zinc extension into the arms of the residents.
Then Kingston Public Hospital(KPH) had to receive our residents, who were nearly choked with smoke, and got burns. We still don’t know if Pow Pow will live. All I know is that the doctors are doubtful. He was burnt badly from the top of his head down to his throat, and the entire right side of his body. I was horrified at the raw flesh and blood from the burns. We prayed and prayed over him. He was totally unconscious. I ask you to pray for Pow Pow.
Right through the night in the dark of Tower Street filled with hundreds of people in the streets, we worked together as a community. I was with them and felt a deep sense of God’s presence, within myself I felt calm. My people, my homeless destitute people, my ghetto people! God gave them to me and the Brothers working together with the people. The flames and the smoke, the terror and the cries, could not take away the peace amidst the great sadness. People wept and prayed with the Brothers singing “How Great Thou Art and Give thanks with the grateful heart”. They could all have been killed.
The Brothers took our residents in the truck to Faith Center which is already over crowded. They were warmly welcomed by our other homeless men. They are now at 3 Law Street sleeping in the refectory, looking a little bewildered but calm.
They are praying for Pow Pow (otherwise known as Rolando).
I am so grateful for all the neighbors who helped. They were filled with so much love and courage! I thank Fr. Kingsley Asphall, my brother priest from the Cathedral who was with me as we faced the terrible suffering of our people – the least of our Brothers.
God help us! We need help from our generous Jamaican people and friends from overseas. The residents, with the Brothers will have to somehow stay cheerful and joyful. They know somehow that this is the cross of Christ. They will have to make space on the floor to sleep beside each other. We will have to share the toilets and showers, the food and the water. We love to make do and seek out in God and his kindness.