Scrooged in Jamaica

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Mr. Scrooge lives on in Jamaica Customs officers! One of our friars , Friar Michael Heine, who is a missionary in Jamaica was here last week to visit and raise some money for the important ministry of the friars. Our mission there includes 4 churches, several schools (with some 1500 children) and a medical clinic. One of the things Friar Mike mentioned was the need for small prizes for the children’s Boxing Day celebration.  He was hoping to pick some up at the “dollar store”. Several  parishioners gave him enough money to take care of youngest children. Mike and I went to Dollorama and got 128 small gifts at $1 each. That’s a total of $128.

When Friar Mike arrived in Jamaica, his bags were still in Toronto! Air Jamaica left them behind because there was too much baggage on the place. When his luggage did arrive Jamaican Customs charged him $50 US because he was importing new toys for children.  The fact that they were gifts from our parishioners for the children made no difference. That’s $50 US for $128 CDN worth of dollar store toys.

Shame on the Jamaican Government for such a shameless money grab at the expense of its people’s children!


  1. Strange, isn’t it …. BTW … I’ve been told that customs officers are above all …
    I think what you should do is to:
    1. complain to The Commonwealth Secretariat ie the toys were brought in from one Commonwealth country into another Commonwealth country …..

    2. write to Hon Bruce Holding, the PM of Jamaica

    3. write top the Vatican so that they can complain to the Jamaican Ambassador to Rome.

  2. That’s a very sad news for all , esp. for all the efforts of Fr. Mike, Friar Rick, and all the donors. Michael has good suggestion (at least he knows what to do) to try something (that’s a big amount of money) and in order not to make this experience as a procedural precedent for future “charity goods” coming in among commonwealth countries. Those toys at DOLLARAMA really very good that make poor children in Jamica happy this Christmas and would be very expensive in Jamaica. ‘Hope, that the government in Jamaica would really work with ‘customs’officers and would take the letter as suggested by Michael as a letter that appeals to their heart not just to their intellect to encourage other commonwealth countries to share blessings of toys to the Jamaican poor children.

  3. Adelle,

    Common sense, isn’t it … the word *common* is in *Commonwealth* ….then why do Commonwealth countries have their annual meetings with Judges, Teachers, Doctors, Customs Officials etc …. other than to put things in common ….

    I would have even written to HM Queen Elizabeth II:
    “Dear Madam,

    I remain a firm believer in the Commonwealth and as I reside in Old Europe … in the Council of Europe at Strasbourg.

  4. Your ideas Michael seemed to be the only solution in this situation. I like your very simple rational analysis of the word”commonwealth” which endorses a humanitarian view to share or channel resources especially to those who need them most, the marginalized sector in society. Not to grab them and add to what they already have. Who knows this might also be their interpretation of “Commonwealth.”

    Go for it, your prophetic role to denounce “subtly” the mal-practice that exists in the Bureau of Customs is needed even if you are miles away from Jamaica. Who knows a prophetic voice from afar would disturb the conscience of the British Queen or the Government of Jamaica. This conscience’s disturbance among the countries top officials would lead into action of another prophetic role directed towards the Custom Officers that they may finally attain conversion and return the money to Friar Mike!

    Good luck Michael!

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