Homeless Jamaican in Ocho Rios by timlori

A Lesson in Humility From a Homeless Man – by SiON42X

Homeless Jamaican in Ocho Rios by timlori

I had a gig once in Kingston, Jamaica. Now, if you’ve ever been to Jamaica you might be thinking “score, rad gig brah.”

You’d be wrong. Kingston is a hell hole, violent, overrun with gangs and poverty. The little strip I was on was called the financial district, and it was one street that wasn’t too bad.

While I was there I met a homeless man named Rappa. He and I would talk for hours. There were many dangerous people in the neighborhood, and he pointed them out for me. He helped me avoid trouble, taught me about Kingston life, and never asked for a cent.

One day I bought him a new t-shirt and some sandwiches. He was shocked, and cried as he rolled up the sandwiches in the t-shirt and went to hide them (he said he’d be attacked if others knew).

It moved me so much that when I was on the final day of the gig, I went to a local shop and bought meals for the seven homeless folks that frequented that block. Each one got a piece of chicken, a couple johnnycakes, some baked beans, and a box of juice. When everyone was walking off with their prizes, I handed a final bag to Rappa. In it was two full chickens, about 20 johnnycakes and a bunch of other goodies.

It’s hard to describe his reaction. Happiness mixed with grief mixed with hope mixed with sheer terror. To him, he had been given a treasure, and that treasure was both welcome and highly coveted. His face at that moment is one I will never forget, and I have to say my life is much improved having known him.

He taught me a great deal about humility.

To be honest, what kindness there was also had a little bit of guilt mixed in. He explained how he lost his last job (his feet and ankles were highly infected and bone white, so he couldn’t lift), about the death of several family members, and about how he survived on the street. And there I was, making more in a week than he probably made in years even when he had a job.

It was probably the first time I’d ever been forced to take a deep introspective look at myself vs. humanity. A face to face encounter with something more than first world problems, so to speak. So yeah, there was guilt there too.


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18 comments

  1. This post stung a bit. I worked in the financial district in Jamaica, too. Homeless people in the area are well looked after by the lawyers, business executives, diplomats and business owners working there. Some of the homeless people are mentally ill and when taken to shelters, they promptly leave. This was something that was a concern to us working in our air conditioned offices. We knew them by name, too. We knew when they were picked up. We knew when they returned. I feel that this comment might bring some context and perspective for future readers. In the end, I am happy that a trip to the Caribbean was helpful in changing your worldview. I wonder if during your time in Jamaica you were able to visit the beautiful homes of your employers?

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on tonysonblogger and commented:
    Wonderful example of a Good Samaritan in action! The particular line worth noticing and pondering over is ‘…there I was, making more in a week than he probably made in years even when he had a job’. That is the crux of the whole issue: glaring economic inequalities in terms of employment opportunities and wage structures, etc., which have plagued all societies. Makes one wonder: wtf are all these governing councils, bodies and authorities doing other than rendering lip sympathy and shedding crocodile tears? Should such poor folks continue to suffer until the Second Coming?

    Like

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