Colorado Couple to Build a Village for the Poor in Rural Jamaica
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Oct. 1, 2013) – Jamaica is famous for its beautiful beaches and vistas. But head inland, about an hour’s drive from the capital city of Kingston into St. Catherine’s Parish between Spanish Town and Old Harbour, and you will find McCooks Pen. The rural community is just off a busy roadway, and is a world away from what beckons visitors to this tropical paradise.
Hidden on a back dirt road, nestled between overgrown weeds and a muddy creek, is a row of dilapidated houses. In the doorway of one of the unsound structures, stood an enthusiastic 22-year-old woman who dreams of attending college. Vanessa Brown talked about what life is like for her and the nine other family members living in the tiny space. She spoke candidly with Marv and Ellie Walworth, who were listening intently to her every word.
“Life here is hard, very hard,” said Brown. “But, I will not let my living conditions define who I am as a person. I refuse to give up on myself.”
The Walworths, longtime supporters of Food For The Poor, took their first mission trip to the Caribbean country with the organization in July. While there, the couple got to witness true destitution as they visited with families in McCooks Pen.
“The attitude of the people here is truly fascinating. They may not have much, materially, yet they are amazingly optimistic about the future and tend to see good where most would see misery,” said Marv.
Moved by what they saw and heard, the Walworths have decided to build a village of 39 two-room houses. Each house will have a living space, a personal sanitation unit with a flush toilet and shower, kitchenette and access to electrical power. The village also will have a community center, which will be built in a cleared out sugar cane field in the center of town.
“Words can’t begin to express the gratitude we feel for the gift of opportunity the Walworths have decided to give to these families who are in desperate need,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “We understand that we cannot fix all the problems in Jamaica, but we are making life-changing improvements one family at a time with God’s help, and with the help of our donors. The Walworths’ legacy will live on for generations to come for those families in the McCooks Pen community.”
Married 51 years, the Walworths have four adult children and seven grandchildren; he is a retired electrical mechanical engineer and she is a retired elementary school teacher from Grand Junction, Colo. The couple learned about Food For The Poor when a speaker from the organization spoke at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church six years ago. No strangers to giving back, the Walworth family has volunteered and opened up their home to help others within their own community, but felt the calling they needed to do more.
“Our family background is one of service. Both of our mothers have led us to have a spirit of service, and we have done the same with our children,” said Ellie. “Here in America there are services available for those who avail themselves of them, but in Jamaica they don’t have the big umbrella of social services, they just don’t have that. That’s why we wanted to help the poorest of the poor.”
Construction of what will be the “The Walworth Family Village” is expected to begin in the fall in McCooks Pen, St. Catherine, Jamaica, and is expected to take eight months to complete. Marv says he plans to volunteer some of his time to help in the building of the village.
“One of the biggest things that impressed me is the use of the local people in the building of these construction projects – it’s fantastic,” said Marv.
It also is Marv and Ellie’s desire that their children and their grandchildren join them in Jamaica when the village is completed and presented to the families. The Walworths believe their gift to these families living in extreme poverty is symbolic of Jesus’ words, “As often as you did it to one of the least of My brothers and sisters, you did it to Me.” (Matt. 25:40)
Food For The Poor
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