PHOTOS: Shaggy brings smiles to children at Bustamante Hospital
International reggae artiste Shaggy with a patient and parent at Bustamante Hospital for Children on Thursday. (PHOTOS: Marlon Reid)
The Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation made their annual stop at the Bustamante Hospital for Children on Thursday, bringing the Christmas cheer to the hundreds of children that are admitted to the government-run facility in the festive season.
With entertainer Shenseea, other members of his band and members of the Make A Difference Foundation in tow, international dancehall artiste Shaggy made the rounds on the wards, mingling with patients and parents as well as medical and other staff at the institution.
According to Shaggy, in an interview with Loop News' reporter Job Nelson, this effort was simply because he is able and has the ability to give back in a meaningful way, although he believes that what he is doing, is just a minor part of the needs.
He said, "we have the means and the ability and we see where we can help and make a difference.
"This has become somewhat second nature to me now, because I am doing it for so many years. So, someone like Shenseea comes in and, because this is her first time, her impression was a little bit different from mine, because I am kind of used to it now.
"But there is always a joy to keep doing it. We have a good team of people with us and even when you get a little bit doubtful, they are always there to push you," Shaggy said.
The international entertainer, said that his way of giving back has transformed over the years, but he is always pleased to bring cheer to the afflicted children during the Christmas season.
"I used to wrap presents out of my living room when I started. I used to buy 200 gifts out of my pocket and wrap them and my children and I would come down here and give them out. And then as I started Shaggy and Friends and we got bigger and bigger, now we have volunteers that do wrapping and we don't even (have to) buy presents no more. People just donate them.
"All I give up now is just really time. Christmas is my high (earning) time. This is normally the time that I would normally be on tour earning, but I am off tour and I ask my band, who is here for free, to do it. So that is the sacrifice that we make,” he said.
Shaggy noted that the sacrifice is worth it.
"You see the smiles on their (children) faces. I just met a mother a while ago that said 'thanks for coming here because you brought a little liveliness in the place'," Shaggy said.
Acting Director of Nursing Service, Shailee Neish said the treat brings joy to both staff and children at the facility.
She said, "every year, both staff and patients look forward to this. It is a form of upliftment because of the fact that they think that persons take time out of their busy schedule to really pay some attention.
"This is particularly for the staff because they undergo so much stress and the hectic service that they have to offer, and then somebody really takes the time out to stop and say thank you, and offer a gift or something, it means a million to them.
"It is also a way for the children to identify themselves with members of the society … to know that ‘I shook that (entertainer’s) hand’ and ‘that (entertainer) took a picture with me’, on a social level, it really gives them comfort," Neish said.
Parents Stephen Coke and Tanesha Wilson, who brought their young child for stomach issues and personally interacted with Shaggy, believes it is a gesture that is well needed and appreciated.
Coke said, "it is always good to see somebody giving back and seeing that Shaggy is giving back for so many years and keep doing it, we all appreciate it. So I say it is good and we give thanks and we give God thanks for him and his health and strength, because without him most of this wouldn't happen.
"The children love him. They loved to see Santa … It is a strength to everybody. It takes your mind off the sickness," he added.
Wilson said, "I think it is a well-designed programme that is really needed in the country. My daughter was born in Orlando and the charity that I see over there, is like what Shaggy is doing here.”
The sixth staging of the Shaggy and Friends concert will be held on January 6 on the lawns of Jamaica House, with all the proceeds going towards the Intensive Care Unit at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.
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