Ocho Rios, Jamaica (July 2017)
The quaint little farming community of Murray Mountain in St Ann came alive this month as the Church of God Body of Christ 7th Day in Barbary Hill hosted its 6th annual Free Community Health Fair. The Health Fair, which served some 400 persons from communities such as Stepney, Calderwood, Sterling, McKenzie, Barbary Hills and Murray Mountain, is put on as a partnership between the church, Sandals Foundation, Lasco Pharmaceuticals, St. Ann Health Department, Cancer Society, Food For The Poor, C B Machines Service Co, Glencour Paper, Harbour View Meat Mart, Lance Blake from Canada, Nurse Randa Pycard from Georgia and other sponsors from Jamaica and overseas.
Services offered at the Health Fair included medical check-ups, pap smears, HIV/Syphilis testing, blood pressure checks, blood sugar checks, eye examinations, dental checks for children, and medication. A variety of items such as clothes, linens and school supplies were also packaged and distributed.
Commenting on the success of the health fair, Missionary Sarah Blake said, “Each year it gets bigger and better and we are so grateful for our wonderful partners who make a difference in helping so many less fortunate persons. The communities all look forward to this annual event.” Lyndsay Isaacs, Regional Public Relations Manager representing Sandals Foundation, commented that she too was pleased with the outcome. “Today is another day for all of us to be thankful for. Everyone is so appreciative and happy. It’s a wonderful feeling when we at the Foundation can partner with other entities for the betterment of society to deliver primary care health and life skills seminars like these to the benefit of so many persons.”
The nearest clinic to these communities is the Alexandra Community Hospital located about 10 miles away and so this event is eagerly anticipated by many. Health Education Officer Michelle White remarked, “This is an excellent partnership that gives us the opportunity to work in rural communities, bringing vital services to the people.”
82-year-old Gladyis Whiteas raved about the day’s event: “I am very, very happy to see the doctor. I get my pills, sheet, towel, clothes and reading glasses. Every year I come. I walk over 2 miles from McKenzie to come but the exercise is good for me and keep me fit.” An elated Victory Simpson added, “I thank God for this day! I get everything free—I’m so happy! My first pap smear, HIV testing, my son got his teeth cleaned and back to school supplies for September. It was worth the hour and a half walk to be here. My neighbor told me about it last week…that is why it is important to live good with your neighbors…sharing is caring. I saved so much money and got so much.”
Organiser Pastor Courtney Blake expressed satisfaction with the day’s proceeding and said, “It took about 8 months to organize this health fair and it is worth every bit of time spent. The people look forward to this fair year after year and are so happy when they receive all the services and medications and their bag of goodies. It’s a wonderful, fantastic day.”