Shaggy has handed over $100 million to the Bustamante Hospital for Children almost five years since raising the funds through his Shaggy & Friends Benefit Concert to assist the hospital in procuring critical equipment to help the nation’s children.
The move came following a bitter spat between Shaggy and hospital officials after they appeared to change the purpose for which the funds were to be used, and the artist refused to hand over the money because hospital officials were to use it to procure specialty equipment and beds.
On Sunday, the Jamaica Gleaner reported that Shaggy handed over the funds, which will help to “facilitate upgrades” and aid a “slew of initiatives.”
The move comes following hardened efforts by the hospital officials who made several insinuations that the artist might have either misused or refused to hand over the funds.
However, last year Shaggy addressed the core of the dispute, which is that his foundation, Shaggy’s Make a Difference Foundation, has never in the history of operation handed over cash or money to any institution. Rather the organization raised funds and procured the goods needed, and handed them over to the organization in need.
“We never hand over money to anybody. If you look at the model of Shaggy & Friends we do not hand over money, we always buy equipment, and if there are repairs we do repairs,” he said. Shaggy also gave an example of previous help to Bustamante that the hospital built the lab, and the foundation undertook the task of furnishing the lab.
During an interview with the Jamaica Observer last December, Shaggy said he was waiting on the hospital to get several things done- a budget, drawings are done, and outsourcing a contractor at a competitive cost before the Foundation released the funds.
The Foundation had planned to build a brand new facility, but there was no availability of land. Shaggy explained that they then contemplated a plan to build a ward. Still, the singer and actor said that his Foundation was prevented from doing that because the Charities Act prevented the money from being used for any other purpose than for which it was raised.
A decision was later taken to refurbish and expand the existing ward to hold seven specialty beds. The ward will include a lounge and waiting area and a new pharmacy to make the space bigger since it currently only holds five beds.
Shaggy has received much flack from members of civil society who bashed the artist for not hastily releasing the money to the hospital, but others defended the artist noting the rampant corruption that was present in government organizations which included funds being missing or monies siphoned off from projects. There has been no proof any corruption is involved in the process of this project between Shaggy and hospital officials, although many Jamaicans felt the artist was right to ensure all safeguards were in place.
During his interview last year, Shaggy explained he had been donating and handing out cheques to needy families for almost a decade before him starting his foundation. However, it was when he met a young patient who had a bullet lodged in her head that he realized that giving her parents a cheque was a short-term solution and that a longer-term solution might be to help to build out a better facility to help future children given the high rate of crime and violence in Jamaica.
The last Shaggy & Friends featured Shaggy’s friends – international performers Sting, Wyclef Jean, and Doug E Fresh.
However, the concert may never be held again as Shaggy addressed the “character assassination” that took place over the years, noting that his “friends,” which included myriad corporate sponsors, were turned off by the way Bustamante hospitals carried on over the money.