Carson: champion of the aged
For almost 60 years, veteran broadcaster Carson Small has been dedicated to selfless community work –– for thousands of Barbadians.
All this despite being visually impaired, and without looking for, or even thinking of reward.
Nevertheless, today during an interview at Starcom Network, where he launched his career, Small was overjoyed and thankful he had been included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
“I don’t do something to get something; but it is God’s will, and I thank the powers involved, especially the Governor General of Barbados Sir Elliott Belgrave, who no doubt chartered the course, and then Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who added the finishing touches on it. And today, I am the happy recipient of such. It has made me a man. I started my community service since 1958 and never once I have had to stop.”
“I don’t see this award as a Carson Small award. Yes, it’s mine and I shall wear it gladly, but there are thousands of people from 1958, when I gave my life to Christ at an old Salvation Army altar, near where I still live in Sea View, St James, who would have contributed to my honour,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Holding to the belief you cannot be a true Christian unless you help the needy in your community, Small was very much involved in looking after the aged, the aging and the disabled.
“I had 16 old-age pension cards in my possession in the 1960s. I used to get them their pensions [from the] respective post offices around the island. I took on that responsibility because lots of the old folks physically couldn’t get from Holetown to Sea View, because there wasn’t a bus service in those days and they would have had to depend on a lift from somebody.
“I would go and stand in the line at the post office . . . and I am sure they appreciated it. I would go and stand in line at the post office, get the pensions, cross the road to Super Centre, which is on the other side, do their shopping and pack a biscuit box with those groceries. Then I would hoist that on my shoulder and walk to Sea View which was about a mile from Holetown, and go hand out pensions and groceries. The holders of those cards never saw them because it was easier for me to hold them . . . ,” the 72-year-old pleasantly recalled.
He spoke about the many days he carried water for the elderly in his neighbourhood who had no water system of their own. He cut wood for them to cook on while he sat and listened to their good old stories from which he learnt many lessons.
It was a blessing to him to get his church have cottage meetings with the shut-ins. And some of those he assisted had children, but this was never a deterrent to this community worker.
As he celebrates his national acknowledgement and honour, Small is saddened at the way his beloved elderly Barbadian citizens are being treated; so sadly neglected.
“They are dropped on the steps of some of our district hospitals. One of my friends who works at one of these institutions told me one day she was at work, the phone rang and she answered. On the other side there was a voice saying, ‘Wunna best come and pick up this woman. She on the steps sitting down like she ain’t got no place to go’.
“When they went, picked her up and inquired, it was the woman’s daughter who was calling while she was on her way to the airport. The mother was taken to the Geriatric and there she spent the rest of her life,” the former Lion said sorrowfully.
“This must stop,” he stressed. “They are the builders of our country. Some of them went without so that we today may have, and that includes education, good clothing, good housing; so that today our youngsters can sit the Common Entrance and go to schools that only a certain class was privileged to go to yesteryear.
“I have heard about a case where a guy married a woman, and he built a shack in the yard for his mother. I couldn’t do that to my mother.”
Small launched his broadcasting career in 1974 when he joined the late Dame Olga Lopes-Seale’s Children’s Programme on Rediffusion. He said his journey on radio, which still continues, offered him many opportunities and proud moments as he interviewed people from all walks of life and across the world.
It was there that Small who was only privileged to attend primary school crafted and enhanced his broadcasting skills as it was, to him, “the College of Broadcasting, having served many radio stations across the Caribbean”.
“I am very thankful for all that I have achieved in my life and for what I have done. I am closer to God for doing His will.
“And I am going to encourage every Barbadian sinner or saved to let us rebuild that love and unity that we demonstrated yesteryear, because Barbados is all the poorer by losing it; and to do that would certainly reunite this country and bring it back together and we will be a far happier people,” he advised.
Small currently records his programme Visions twice a week at Starcom Network for airing on Sundays, specifically targeting the disabled.