Hungry & homeless

Hungry & homeless

Mother of five living in 20-foot container appeals for help

Senior staff reporter

Monday, July 13, 2020

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HUNGRY and homeless, a desperate mother of five is longing for reprieve from a life of hardship unfamiliar to many.

After years of bouncing from “place to place”, 48-year-old Carlean Hanson has found shelter in a 20-foot container on an unsupervised lot in Ensom Acres, Spanish Town, St Catherine.

But the storage facility, which rests metres away from a gully and is surrounded by debris, is unfit for human occupancy and residents of the adjacent housing scheme have made it clear that she cannot remain there.

That pressure and a 12-year-old son who she is unable to feed have caused her sleepless nights.

Her other children, whose ages range from seven to 17, have been forced to live with strangers as she struggles to find her footing. For now, they are still in school.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer last Wednesday, Hanson explained that she was sheltering with friends in Rivoli, another community in Spanish Town, but was told earlier this month that she would have to leave because the property had been sold.

“When mi hear that mi walk look piece a land, because mi have five kids and dem not living anywhere and dem need somewhere to live. We was stopping with somebody long time and the person said it cannot work anymore... So right now mi have one living with mi inside there and the rest living with other people for the time being,” said the woman, who was seated on an old tyre while hovering over laundry.

“Right now we need a piece of land. We nuh deh pon nothing. We need somewhere to live. We need a piece a land and a house and some food. So that's what mi trying to look about. It kind of [hassling] because people from all 'bout coming to tell us we cannot live here and it don't look good, but nobody is helping,” she added.

The container, Hanson said, was willed to her by a man who is now deceased.

She said after taking note of her dilemma, the dying man told her that she could command the container once he passed.

“Right now we sleep on the ground inside there. The facility really bad, it nuh proper. Living in there really bad because wi affi sleep flat; nuh bed can't put down in there. So wi affi just spread one piece of sponge and lie down pon it,” Hanson said.

“Wi nuh have nowhere fi bathe; wi nuh have nuh toilet. Wi nuh have anything but the container. Wi nuh have nuh water or nowhere to cook. Suh mi beg a guy next door... fi get water for us. Mi affi go weh go use friend toilet, but the guy is digging a toilet hole for us. Is rubbish heap wi live and nuff of the people dem say if mi cannot find somewhere else,” she added.

Food, she told the Observer, is sometimes given to her and her son by workers at the St Catherine Municipal Corporation. But there are days when the two settle for only a drink of water.

The single mother openly shared that her situation grew worse after she was “abandoned” by the father of one set of her children when he allegedly ran off with another woman. Another man, who she said fathered the other set, died sometime ago.

“Him run off long time ago and him not even business 'bout dem. So it's just me trying to do something for dem, you understand?” said the woman.

Turning to family is not an option.

They, too, Hanson divulged, are also struggling.

“The family weh mi have really in need too; dem don't have it. Mi have a sister have five kids too, and she really don't have it, you understand? So that's the business,” Hanson, who is originally from Kingston, said.

Before relocating to St Catherine, she said she often did domestic work. At that time things were slightly better.

However, she said, after moving, jobs became harder to come by and now, with the constant threat of the novel coronavirus, “nobody hiring”.

“Mi nuh have nuh skill but mi can sell if mi get likkle things. More time a that mi used to do when mi naah do day's work. Mi can do day's work if mi get them, but it hard fi get them because the people them are trying to say is washing machine them using now and see coronavirus, everything lock off. So the coronavirus stop a lot a things. So that's the business, but what to do? We can't do better,” said Hanson.

“Tell yuh the truth, wi need proper help, somewhere to live and some food at least,” she stated.

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