We need roads in Sherwood Content - Bolt's hometown cries for infrastructure
Four boys kick a less than fully inflated basketball around the multipurpose court, their laughter only interrupted by the sounds from the occasional passing taxis.
Yes, it's a typical day in Sherwood Content. The once little-known Trelawny community, made popular because it is where Olympic champion Usain Bolt grew up. It allegedly got its name from a rich man named Sherwood, who used to own much of the land in area. Origin of the name aside, Sherwood Content rests in the hills above the more popular Martha Brae. It fits all the stereotypes of a rural, farming community. In some ways, that's not a bad thing.
"People live close together man," said Herma Lewis, who has lived in Sherwood Content for nearly 30 years. "Dem look out for each other too. Dem stretch out dem hands, man." Undoubtedly, the biggest excitement in town is whenever Sherwood Content's favourite son is on the track. At the recent Rio Olympics, Kurvan's Corner shop was the place to be, with big screen set up to watch the sprint king hang on to his throne in some style. But it doesn't mean the little town is a tomb.
"When night come, a pure music man. Di young people dem set up dem system and it play loud," laughed Lewis. Her humour is indicative of the area. Opposite the post office (which of course sports a mural of the big man doing his signature pose), some young men are playing a robust game of dominoes. Due to the community's proximity to Falmouth (as well as other resort towns along the north coast), it's no surprise many young people seek employment in tourism, away from the community.
Despite the jovial nature of most persons you come across, like most rural communities, Sherwood Content has its issues. There is one in particular that is readily on the residents' lips.
"We need road, man. Road, road, road!" emphasised Mamre Flash, another one of the 'elders' of Sherwood Content. "And we need the community centre to be upgraded to offer programmes for the young people who don't have a skill." The main road leading to the community is riddled with potholes. Compounding matters, the road is quite narrow in most places. Residents note that from Martha Brae, some nine miles downhill from Sherwood Content, taxi men charge up to $150 per trip. They believe this is more than reasonable, but worry about the continued strain on the vehicles to make the journey several times a day.
"Di way how Mr Bolt popular, we woulda think say dah road yah woulda look like highway," joked Alfred Smith, a farmer. "No matter who come yah and say dem a do tings, we nuh see dem back."
Delroy Hudson is a son of Sherwood Content who lived abroad for many years. He would like to see the multipurpose court erected in a partnership between Digicel Foundation and Bolt's own foundation be better utilised.
"They put a basketball court in the middle of the land. They could have placed it in another area, and that would give them space to put in a football field and even a track," he said. "Where it is now, you can't put anything else in there." While grateful for the court, which can accommodate basketball and netball, Hudson feels that more can be done.
PLAYING ON A ROCK
"Up by the school (Waldensia), they have night football up there, and that's basically just a rock they're playing on," he said. "If we can make changes to this court, this could be the most popular sporting place in Trelawny." While not parched like other parts of the island, the community does also have its challenges with water. An improvement in the water supply is something the farmers especially pray for.
Despite the challenges, arable farmland sprouting produce is visible practically everywhere. Apart from the famous Trelawny yam, the area is also ripe with cassava and pepper, not to mention some very bountiful breadfruit and pear trees. No visitor to the community, provided you came with good intentions, leaves empty-handed.