10 years ago, Shaggy was introduced to the Bustamante Hospital for Children whilst visiting a friend’s son who had been admitted there. He was so moved by what he saw, that he vowed to do whatever he could to make things better there for Jamaica’s children. This visit opened Shaggy’s eyes to the obstacles children faced with receiving medical care in Jamaica and the region, it being the only full service children’s hospital in the English speaking Caribbean, he resolved that something had to be done in order to improve the conditions there. For eight years he quietly made personal donations of medical equipment, which the hospital desperately needed, such as:
2001- two (2) Ventilators
2002- Electroencephalogram (EEG) Machine
2003- Table Top Sterilizing Machine
2005- Funded the Upgrade of the Medical Oxygen System
2006- Funded the Beautification of the Administrative Block
2008- Collaborated with Scotiabank to create a park & recreation area
“My humble donations pale in comparison to the hospital’s true needs list of over US$2,000,000 worth of equipment. On an international scale, that may seem like a humble figure, easily reached in other parts of the world, but the truth is that for a hospital in Jamaica, dependent on public funding, it is a daunting challenge” -Shaggy has stated.
In 2009 Shaggy’s involvement with the hospital dramatically changed. Whilst on a routine visit there, he was approached by a father who insisted that he come visit his daughter, who was currently on a ventilator in the ICU. The father’s motivation, Shaggy later realized, was due to the fact that the man’s daughter was being kept alive by one of two ventilators Shaggy had previously donated to the hospital. Shaggy says, “As I stood with this distraught father watching his helpless daughter, “Apple”, he recounted to me that had it not been for the ventilator I had donated, his nine year old daughter who lay with a bullet lodged in her head would not have survived. To say I was moved would be an understatement. I decided then and there that somehow my involvement had to make a greater impact”.
On January 3, 2009, Shaggy formally introduced a sustainable event that garnered funds to donate to the Bustamante Hospital for Children. This event was the first of his foundation, which he established following the visit with Apple’s father - “The Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation”. With just eight weeks of planning, the “Shaggy and Friends Benefit Concert” was held on the lawns of Jamaica House on January 3rd, 2009. It was well attended and successfully raised US$300,000.00 (J$27 Million) for the hospital. It included performances by Shaggy, Macy Gray, Sean Paul, Marcia Griffiths, Etana and a slew of popular Jamaican and Caribbean artistes all giving their time free of cost for the cause. Patrons were treated to an all inclusive “exclusive” event which went down as a memorable concert here in Jamaica winning awards as the year’s best event. Against all odds Shaggy & his team managed to create an awareness about the plight of the hospital, mobilised Jamaicans to get involved and support the cause. Never before had this been done, where a concert pledged and delivered on it’s promise of donating 100% of the proceeds to their cause. It can fairly be said, that the expectations for the January 2nd 2010 show were extremely high. Along with Shaggy’s production team they managed to raise the bar for concerts, so a great challenge lay ahead to meet and surpass 2009’s show. A slew of top Jamaican and Caribbean artistes including Mykal Rose, Tarrus Riley, Queen Ifrika, Baby Cham and Machel Montano willingly contributed their performances free of cost. Shaggy also reached out to Boyz to Men, Joe and Mario Winans who helped add an international appeal to an already amazing lineup. Once again the show garnered much support, was well produced and successful overall, raising US$350,000 (J$31Million) for the foundation. A difficult decision was made to not stage a Shaggy & Friends Concert in 2011. There were many factors which contributed, to this resolution.However, The Shaggy & Friends Benefit Concert would resume the following year. January 7, 2012, the Shaggy and Friends concert was once again staged on THE lawns of Jamaica House and raised US$370,000.00 (J$32 Million) for the children of the Bustamante Hospital for Children, this was announced by Orville ‘Shaggy’ Burrell at the hospital in late January.
This year, the proceeds from the concert will help to furnish the new ICU/cardiac ward working in partnership with Chain Of Hope Jamaica, a group of volunteer doctors and nurses who perform surgeries each year on our children with heart problems. In Jamaica, with a population of just under three (3) million, over 500 children are born each year with heart defects.
Shaggy stated that “he was heartened by the outpouring of support this year by so many Jamaicans and pledges to continue to support this cause and encourages Jamaicans to do so as well.”
To Date The Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation has raised a total of just over US$1,000,000 (J$90 Million) for the hospital, and has covered the costs for an overall audit to be done on all medical equipment (working or otherwise) at the Bustamante Hospital (June - July, 2011). In addition, the Foundation has donated two (2) new fully equipped dental chairs for the hospital’s Dental Unit, as the existing unit was forced closed for several months due to non-functional dental chairs. The new chairs were delivered and installed earlier last year along with 378 pieces of medical equipment.