April 12, 2013

Jamaica Mission focuses on housing, medical care, children

PERU — The Peru Community Church Jamaica Mission focuses on essentials for its annual trip to the Caribbean, but this year, the volunteers also brought along some more fanciful items.

New Hope Children’s Home had requested costumes for the kiddies — they wanted to be superheroes.

“They are really starved for that imaginary play,” said Harriet Burrell, who chairs the Jamaica Mission with her husband, George.

About 25 children, from newborns up to age 6, are under the care of Amanda Williams, a native Californian who has run the center for about 28 years. 

”She came to Jamaica as a young woman and never left,” Mrs. Burrell said in a phone interview. “To support herself, she babysat. Pretty soon, people were asking her to take their babies” to raise.

Some at the Children’s Home are orphans; others were taken there by parents who could not afford to feed them. Many have disabilities.

“Visiting is heart-wrenching,” Jamaica Mission volunteer Donna Scott of Plattsburgh said, reminiscing at the Peru Church Fellowship Center recently. 

“You’re ambivalent in the sense that you feel so bad for them but you can see how they love this woman who cares for them. 

”And you can see that they are very loving children.”


The mission came of a windy autumn afternoon 14 years ago, when Jamaican Roy Jones climbed a ladder and reached up to try to pick a perfect apple at a Peru orchard. 

He fell and was left paraplegic by his injuries.

Between that accident and the present are many stories.

The Peru Community Church’s annual Jamaica Mission began with efforts to help that injured worker 14 years ago. 

Roy was returning to a house that was not handicapped-accessible.

”A lot of people here knew him, and some of us went down to Jamaica to help,” said Mr. Burrell.

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