Dr. Sam Christian, MD.
Dr. Sam Christian, MD.

A favorite topic of seasonal sermons is “there was no room for them in the inn.” In terms of applying the message, Dominica appears to be doing a commendable job taking care of its less fortunate. The Grotto houses over forty homeless people suffering from a variety of challenges. However, the current facility is congested, run-down and dangerous. Meanwhile its new location in Bellvue Rawle is still only 40% complete and funds are exhausted.

What is the main turn off for the tourist and visitor? My opinion: Incessant begging by disturbed, homeless citizens. You want to help, but there are dangers to giving. Perhaps our conversation today is about listening to your own experiences and your opinion about the best way to help the poor in Dominica.

A one-armed beggar hit me up soon after my return. I was generous that day. Of course, thereafter, whenever he saw me across the street or down the block, he would call out for more. There was no concern for how I was doing. I must have looked to him like a tree that you just shake and get money. I thought to myself, “So what it is now; I’m Santa Claus then?! After all man, give another person a chance.” It became a cat and mouse game. If I saw him first, I’d take evasive action. Then I got tired of that nonsense. I just started telling him no straight up and braced myself for insults.

The problem with giving to someone on the street is that you never know for sure how that money will be spent. Yes, they may say they ‘just want to buy a bread’ because they have not eaten anything all day and every other hard-luck story. But the minute you turn your back, it could be consumed on cigarettes, rum or worse. I suspect you have an idea what I’m talking about. On the other hand, what is most appealing about the Grotto is that it not only warehouses individuals but also creates an enabling environment for personal advancement.

Neirola Bertand, a 25 year-old resident, actually completed a technical training program. This is what she had to say. “I am proud to show you my computer course certificate. I feel safe here. You can tell people a bit about me if you want.” What a testimony! Like a diamond in the rough – polish it and watch it sparkle!

Indeed, we have already been placed on notice that at some future day, some will ask, “When did we see you hungry and feed you, naked and clothe you, homeless and give you shelter?” Scripture suggests that when we give to strangers, we may even be entertaining angels unawares.

‘Away in manger’ was written by the great German reformer Martin Luther, as a lullaby for his children. There may not be much that is sweet or angelic about the homeless. They are not as groomed as the rest of us. Their language may not always be easy on the ears. Most of all, they smell differently.  Several are afflicted with conditions such as schizophrenia, amputation, epilepsy, stroke, blindness, victimization, abandonment, drug-induced psychosis, dementia and more. The health and safety of the least of us affects the well being of all of us. We live in an age when unsanitary conditions among the poor breeds vermin and diseases like Leptospirosis that can touch any one of us.

It is said that the true measure of a society is how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable. In communist countries, the state is responsible for all such things. Democratic countries depend on public-private collaboration. The President, His Excellency Charles Saverin, is quoted as saying, “The work of the Grotto is important in our Dominican Society and the citizens who live there clearly enjoy the best standard of care possible with the limited resources. The President’s Office will continue to advocate on your behalf.” This is something I think we can all agree upon.

Your contributions are so important. If everyone does a little then no one will have to do a lot. Then again, your particular gift maybe your persuasive ability to steer much-needed assistance back to your nature isle. For example, you may be attending a church overseas or belong to an organization looking for a certain rewarding, giving opportunity. Or perhaps you may know someone who has done very well for themselves who would warm up to the idea of donating to a certified, very worthy, exceptionally well-run charity.

Of course, this does not negate our everyday obligation to poorer relatives as well as friends and neigbours in distress. However, at the end of the day, only institutional giving reliably ensures that your hard-earned money is well spent. Supervisor, Mrs. Lucia Blaize-Jones and the Board of the Grotto Home for the Homeless, have been doing an outstanding job. For 25 years they have attracted support from private corporations, churches and donors such as the Beverly Foundation.

In a way, the Grotto serves as our metaphor for the manger, a place where we can behold the face of God. Is there room in our hearts to do a little more than we have been doing for the poor? We still have a long way to go with regards to fulfilling our national commitment to the less fortunate. For more information on how you can contribute from the UK, please contact Secretary-Treasurer Tina Alexander at [email protected]com (767 449-8543). From Canada and US territories, contact the Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences at (301 218 9400).

May the blessings rebound to you this Christmastime in double measure!


Dr. Sam Christian is surgeon who runs the Urgent Care on 137 Bath Road. It offers general medical care, office surgery, acupuncture and microdermabrasion. He is Medical Adviser to the Dominica Cancer Society and author of the faith and fitness nutrition book, ‘Mannafast Miracle.’ Dr. Christian can be reached at 440-9133 or by writing to

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  1. Back home
    December 16, 2013

    Sometimes we help people overs seas and forget our own people back home who need us. Thanks Sir for the reminder.

  2. We need each other
    December 16, 2013

    We all need help one way or the other. Today is theirs, tomorrow might be yours. Please help these people. Doc great work!

  3. Far yet near
    December 16, 2013

    We the people oversea should make an effort to send our donation to help the less fortunate in Dominica.

  4. Well said
    December 16, 2013

    I do hope that quite a few people will try to help out these people. Let s all play our part as a nation both here and abroad.

  5. Francisco Telemaque
    December 16, 2013

    “Perhaps our conversation today is about listening to your own experiences and your opinion about the best way to help the poor in Dominica”(Sam)

    Sam, most Dominicans believe that the best way to help the poor in our country is to issue handouts; that is what the politician feel compelled to do. Let us take medicine as an example, when the British colonized Dominica, if it is one thing they did they ensured education for everyone, though some who made it into the secondary school system were considered the smartest, and sometimes the children of the bourgeoisie.

    However, they also established a medical system to treat every Dominican in need of medical treatment, and patients paid nothing for medical treatment, they had clinics set up in most of the villages; whereas there was, and still in Marigot a Hospital exists, there was a satellite clinic in Wesley, where the resident doctor of Marigot would go every Tuesday of each week where sick people visited with him.

    That pattern existed all over Dominica.

    That clinic in Wesley also served patients from Calibishe, and Woodford Hill. If someone need to be Hospitalized depending on their emergency, he would either accept them at Marigot, or if the medical emergency could not be properly treated in the Marigot Hospital the doctor would have them treated at the better equip hospital in Portsmouth.

    My point is simply this in those days patients went into the hospitals, and came out alive, there was nothing such as Red Clinic, where sick people had to prove their political affiliation in order for a favor to be extended, everybody was treated the same. In the twenty-first century we are more developed, to a point where we even have a social security system; however I asks is it working in Dominica, as any social security system you know in any modern country?

    Absolutely not!

    A Dominican can come here, in the United States, never work a single day in his/her life as long as that person is not in the country illegal, meaning they have a green card, or become a citizen, never work; yet they are sick or past retirement age, from the social security system a cheque will be given to them, and just about enough so that they can live with some dignity, all they have to do is apply for SSI.

    That is built into the system maybe it is time that we take a look at our social security system, and make it possible for all our people to benefit from wether they contributed into it or not. Dominicans need to introduce such programs into the social security system, and make it mandatory for people to get assistance legal assistance rather than having to be on their knees looking up at some politician face for a handout of few measly dollars.

    Nobody should have to live beggars life.

    Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

  6. Justice and Truth
    December 16, 2013

    Dr. Christian, I have taken note of your informative article and the address where we could send our donation.
    If everyone gives whatever they could, collectively, it will be a great help for every little bit counts. The Lord knows how much we could give.
    I had previously read about The Grotto which houses the underprivileged and had spoken to someone about it. I informed the person I do not mind directly assisting them. The Holy Spirit prods us on to do good. Yes! There are times he convicts us as well.
    The Lord expects this of us. He has said, on that day, He will say to us, “For I was hungry and you did not feed me. I was sick and you did not care for me or visit me. I was in prison and you did not visit me… and vice versa. They will answer, “Lord, where did we see you…?” He will reply: “As long as you do to the least of these you do to Me….” Those are serious words, to be taken seriously.
    We up here have our obligations to fulfill. Nevertheless, I will be contacting a few people here to inform them about The Grotto; some may already know about it. If we can put our heads/minds together :), we could at least give whatever we can in the course of the coming year. I, personally, will do my part.
    Thank you for informing us further of the situation at The Grotto. The authorities will be hearing from me. When I give and whatever I give, I have no wish for it to be broadcasted.
    The Lord also said, those who expect honor and exaltation in this world will not get it in eternity for they already got it, words to that effect.
    Whatever good I do, I do it for the love of God and for neighbor. Everyone is our neighbor, near or far. God bless!

  7. Justice and Truth
    December 16, 2013

    In Toronto we also have our share of beggars. I have given to some of them on the street. Why did I do this? I recall from Dominica my father, the breadwinner would assist those who would come to him for help. Therefore, I learned from his generous act. I will continue to do this but there are those who take advantage of generous people.
    Today, it is another story. Only last evening I related to someone of an experience I recently had. On my way to a store, a young man begged me for money. This was habitual with him. I ignored him. I went into a store and while at the cashier’s desk I noticed the young man with a bottle of pop which he took. He touched a man but the man had no idea what he wanted. The man shrugged him off. I realized what he was doing and I told the man, “he wants you to pay for it.” They all ignored him. Frankly, I was annoyed with the boldness of this man, taking the item and wanting customers to pay for it. Anyway, I asked the cashier, what is the cost. She said $2.00. I told her I will pay for it. She complimented me. I responded, “I am doing this for the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
    I asked him what is his religion. He told me and I realized that he is a Canadian native Indian. I said to him, I thought you were a Catholic. He said he goes to the Catholic Church. I said to him you should go to Church and pray to God so that He could help you. This was the end of the conversation. Obviously, the words went in one of his ears and out the other :) because he would soon forget what was stated. All he cared about was the pop he had to drink.
    A few days later, one evening I went to a store which was not in the vicinity where I had seen him. I was outside of the store waiting for my ride. I saw him coming. He was smoking a cigarette and looking on the ground, probably searching for thrown-away cigarettes or whatever that he could smoke. He was laughing to himself. I thought, this young man probably has a mental problem.
    As soon as he saw me (I am certain he did not recognize me), he asked me if I could give him a few dollars. I was so annoyed, I turned and went back into the store. When I returned outside, I observed him walking away.
    If he has no money I have no idea how he could have found his way miles/kilometers away to that store. It is not a place I could walk. One has to drive or take a bus; from the bus the store is approximately two blocks walking distance. Walking to the store from the area I reside would take over an hour. No one in their common sense would do that.
    I thought, this is a man who needs help to get him on his feet and that he could study a trade or other. On the street, he will not get that help. I have not seen him since. He probably goes from place to place begging.
    People do tend to stay away from those types. If they beg and get money, at the end of the day, week and month they could be better off financially than those who give him.
    I had thought, if I had seen a police on patrol I would have spoken to the police about this man. I wonder where is he staying or does he love to walk around and beg. Generally the police will not interfere if he is not creating problems. They need to be placed in a home where they could receive some sort of training for a future career. That is the situation with those who beg on the streets.
    Some of them do receive monthly social assistance, government benefits once they have an address where it could be sent to. Or if they need money, they could go to the office and they will be given some money and be offered other assistance. From what I heard, some of them use friends or relatives address.
    We have heard many stories about beggars who may not be in need of help that today, few people give them. They love to frequent stores, banks and churches to beg where they feel people may have money and to give them.
    Of course, those in Dominica are not to be compared with those uphere and vice versa. I do believe D/can beggars are really poor and need assistance.

    • Francisco Telemaque
      December 16, 2013

      J&T: the Bible told us “the poor will always be among you” those are the words of Jesus, So, it matters not how prosperous the nation there shall be forever poor people.

      Can poverty ever be eradicated?

      Never in any life time; apart from God himself stating that, the way the world system is set up it breaths “creates” poor people. When last have you been on a job, and you were paid enough that on payday you can go out and purchase something, and by that I mean something of extreme value and have enough left to feed you through the month?

      Very seldom you find someone who can boast of that. It is my experience, that when one is employed, the employer only pays the employee enough money to get them returning to his/her job, but never enough so that the employee can become financially independent, that will never happen in human lifetime on this earth.

      Always remember, if you go into a bank to get a loan unless they see a way where they can make a lot of money from you they will never let you have that loan, thus in Proverbs, we a re told “a borrower is a slave of the lender.

      Case and point, if you want to purchase a house in North America, assuming that the property is worth three hundred thousand dollars; they may ask to make a down payment of between 5 and 20%, so let us take the higher percentage, thus you would have to make a payment of sixty ($60,000.00) thousand dollars down, that means they will only finance two ($240,000.00) thousand dollars, assuming the interest is 5.5% compounding that would be $240,000.00 X 5.5/100 X1.25 = 16500/12 = $1,375.00 plus approximately $500.00 per month in property tax, and another approximately $108.00 in property insurance, which is mandatory, that would bring you monthly payments to a total of one (1,983.00) thousand nine hundred eighty-three dollars per month, for the duration of the loan which is usually, fifteen or thirty years.

      The banks, and Mortgage companies are greedy, they know that most people are desperate for the loan, hence they will find a way to force you into accepting a thirty (30) year Mortgage, and by the time you are finished paying that $240,000.00 dollars, you will end up paying the One million, seven hundred eighty four thousand, seven hundred ($1,784,700.00 dollars for that house.

      And in every event there will be some variable that will increase your payments many times before the loan reaches maturity. Property, and insurance will increase, even if you have a fix rate interest, if the interest rate is one that adjustable it even worst, since your payment can increase every month, as long as there cut off point stated in the Note.

      So you see why there are some many poor people in the world, the same applies in Europe!

      One just cannot win, in the case above one would have paid back the two hundred forty thousand dollars more than three times, it is the system, and the way it is designed.

      The poor will always be with us, that cannot change!

      Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

      • Francisco Telemaque
        December 16, 2013

        I sort of erred in calculation: If the payment is $1,983.00 for thirty years, which is 360 months, that should be 360 X 1,983.00 = $713, 880.00.


  8. reflection
    December 15, 2013

    great article good food for thought we can all make a difference

  9. Anonymous
    December 15, 2013

    The problem is not tbe residents but those who handle the funds .

  10. sandraw
    December 15, 2013

    Great article. I agree that when I donate in town, I worry that the money is not actually spent on food. I would much rather that (for example) the Grotto home collected outside (again, for example) the supermarkets, and then I am sure more people would contribute, especially the tourists, and the Home could make sure the beggars get food and shelter.

    Taking it a stage further, I don’t see why the Grotto Home could not then organise the more able bodied beggars into helping clean up Roseau, and pay them a “wage”

    • Justice and Truth
      December 16, 2013

      Excellent suggestion. However, will they want to work for a few dollars? Some of them prefer begging than being employed. Nevertheless, it is worth a try. The government should consider it.

    December 15, 2013

    Giving hurts sometimes. However it’s an opportunity to appreciate there are always someone worse off than you. Although you seem to get irritated at times, it’s good to see you taking your time to advocate for the less fortunate.

    Blessings Doc. Respect!

  12. Just saying
    December 15, 2013

    What an article. Thanks Doc for reminding me of what`s important. I am move to make to visit the grotto home and make a little contribution with the little I have.

  13. Tina Alexander
    December 15, 2013

    Neirola would love to take a further computer course at the Business Training centre (BTC) but lacks the resources, anyone who would like to help could donate directly in her name at BTC. She is certainly a good news story and is grateful to the previous supervisor Ann Solomon for giving her a chance and advocating on her behalf.

    • Anonymous
      December 15, 2013

      Maybe she should be given a job at the grotto , helpingout in the office in this way gaining much needed

    • Anonymous
      December 15, 2013

      Maybe she should be given a job at the grotto , helpingout in the office in this way gaining much needed experience and a sense of accomplishment.

    • Anonymous
      December 16, 2013

      sending money is not always the answer.

  14. workers
    December 14, 2013

    8-O :-| :cry: :-P :evil: :arrow: :-o :!: :!: :!: :!: :!: :!: :!: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  15. Just saying
    December 14, 2013

    What an article ! I feel the need to visit this home before Christmas. Thanks Doctor for the reminder , we sometimes forget what it is to give to those in need.

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