This month we interview Silton Townsend known to many Jamaicans as Maas Gussie. His programme and column Hello Mi Neighbour is inspiring Jamaicans everywhere to help each other. He has motivatied people to think of how they can be of value to each other and make life better for others.
Q: How did you start “Hello Mi Neighbour”? What inspired you?
A: Hello Mi Neighbour is an offspring of “Hello Neighbour”. Thought that this column would give greater visibility to the needs of some of our needy neighbours and provide an opportunity for others to help in meeting them.
Q: What impact have you seen “Hello Mi Neighbour”
A: The impact so far has been very positive. As we publish needs of individuals in the Gleaner column week after week, it is heart warming to see persons responding with help. They help with cash, clothing, household articles etc
Q: Did you expect to have this big of an impact on Jamaica?
A: We knew that it would have taken off but we thought that we would have been able to manage with the limited resources at our disposal. It has taken on another dimension which is now challenging our abilty to cope without additional resources. We depend heavely on financial donations from caring neighbours….
Q: Do you get offers to help from Jamaicans in the Diaspora abroad?
A: Yes we do. I suspect that as more of them become aware of what we are doing the flood gates will open up. Those who contact us are very pleased with the project.
Q: Can you tell us the most inspiring story you have heard so far of neighbours helping neighbours since you started “”Hello Mi Neighbour”.
A: There are many but I’ll share one. We heard about a 10 year old boy persuading his poor mother to purchase a text book for another needy child in another parish.
Q: Do you visit many of the people who see help?
A: There may be an occasional vist… As we connect neighbours with one another they do the visitations. That’s the intent of the initiative
Q: Are there any plan to start an official organization?
A: Yes there is plans to start and official organization soon.
Q: Where to most of the request for help come from, rurual or corporate area Jamaica?
Q: Have you met many of the donors?
A: Not many
Q: Many people know you as an actor. Do you have any new projects you are working on?
A: Millions may know me as an actor. Thousands may know me as a preacher of the Gospel…I now do “Maas Gussies Views” on the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica
Q: Thanks for the interview. Any final words?
A: Just want to continue doing what I am doing. I need the prayers and financial support of my neighbours. I believe that this initiative was inspired by God and can go a far way in restoring the spirit of neighbourliness and sanity to Jamaica To The World!
About Hello Mi Hello Mi Neighbour
“HELLO NEIGHBOUR” involves a motivational, discussion programme aired on LOVE 101 FM every Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00a.m.
The primary purpose of this Programme which began November 2005 is to inspire Jamaicans to become more helpful to one another, more solutions-oriented and more willing to see problems as opportunities for success rather than recipes for failure. Discussions encourage the sharpening of coping skills, personal growth, better human relations, sharing with others and community spirit, which foster hope, confidence and trust in God and in one another.
“HELLO NEIGHBOUR” seeks to connect people with people, with a view to engender kindness and neighbourliness throughout the length and breadth of Jamaica . It does not subscribe to the notion of “the haves and have nots” but to the idea that everyone has something that can be shared with someone else, thus making that other life a little richer. It is hosted weekly by Silton Townsend, Christian Motivator, Actor, Team Builder, Optimist, Realist and Visionary.
The half an hour stint is interspersed with positive thoughts, inspirational readings, uplifting comments and stimulating music. Participants with special challenges are not only provided with verbal advice from their “neighbours”, through the Programme, but with practical, workable, solutions, especially, from those who may have gone through similar experiences and are willing to help others.
RESULTS TO DATE
To date, (a) hundreds of persons have received assistance from their “neighbours”, through the Programme, in the form of: prayers, counselling, visits, clothing, food items, medication, lunch money and text books (for school children), sewing machines, beds, bed linen, refrigerators, gas stoves etc. (b) Barriers are being broken down as strangers, by giving a helping hand to another, become friends. (c) Drop-off points are being established around the island. (d) A distribution/call centre has been set up. (e) Wednesdays have been established as “Neighbour Day” by the Programme – a time when people are asked to make a special effort at reaching out to some else.
HELLO NEIGHBOUR is now seeking partnership with individuals who can help to sustain the Programme through monthly financial contributions. Cheques may be made payable to: HELLO NEIGHBOUR or deposits made to HELLO NEIGHBOUR’S National Commercial Bank account # 351-044-276