WHEN 63-year-old Clement Simmonds lost his security guard job last year he knew he had to create employment for himself as his age made it increasingly difficult to land another gig.
And what better way to do it than to return to his first love — that of making beautifully handwoven baskets, chairs, lamps and tables among other craft items.
On reflection, Simmonds said he regrets having not pursued his trade over the last 30 years as the satisfaction received from seeing his handiwork is far more than he ever experienced working as a security guard.
"Doing this it keep mi focus because if mi never a do this mi would be a crazy man," said Simmonds.
The father of four who is from Clapham in St Ann said he has been weaving craft items from wicker for years.
"I don't have a job so I try to make a job for myself; you have to try and do something fi yourself," Simmonds told the Jamaica Observer North East.
Creating his own employment has been the best thing for him, Simmonds believes, as, according to him, security guards are not given benefits for the many risks they face on the job.
"I was there for years and couldn't survive so I decide to do this," he explained.
And although he is not yet reaping the expected financial gains from his craft, Simmonds said he is satisfied with the compliments from his customers.
"Mi just barely a survive but mi prefer to do it than sit down. Everyday people ah commend me. Maybe no money no come, but mi feel good I am doing something," he said.
Simmonds said he started working as a security guard since the 1970s, but looking back now he believes more should be done for security guards.
"It hard for a security to be working so hard and not getting benefits," he said, adding, "If we sick we have to get money go doctor, no recompense, nothing."
Simmonds said he believes security guards should be asked to contribute to a pension fund as many find it difficult to save on their own.
"It better dem take a $1,000 from you pay because a nuh all ah we can save," he said.
He explained that apart from the dangers persons face on the job, their salary is not enough to take care of even the most basic of their needs.
"Sometimes you work without eating. You have to find fare to go to work. A nuff security you see a dress up a come a work and can't buy lunch. Mi a tell you from experience," Simmonds said.
As he nears the age of retirement, Simmonds, like many others, do not have a pension to look forward to and so will have to continue working hard for many years to come.
With a family which includes his one-year-old daughter still dependent on him, Simmonds said he would like to be able to formally establish his business.
"Mi would like to establish miself better," he said.
He explained that selling along the road is a challenge for him, especially when it rains as he has to seek shelter in business places which is not always accepted by the owners.
Selling on the streets itself is a challenge for Simmonds who, most times, stays overnight in the town of Ocho Rios with his goods.
According to Simmonds, most times he has to sleep with his goods beside him and be on the alert for criminal attacks.
"Mi up a the market once and dem cut a "L" in mi back pocket, when mi feel mi wallet gone," he said.
Simmonds said he would like to have a place where he can stay and where his work can be better seen by people.
Simmonds said he would like to also establish a viable market for his products.
Although the struggles are many, Simmonds said he does not intend to give up as at his age there is no one to depend on.