MONTEGO BAY, St James — Theodore Mullings will hopefully see brighter days after he was taken off the streets of downtown Kingston recently.
Theodore, a 34-year-old past student of Calabar High School, is said to have been homeless for over seven years before he was taken to a nursing home by his brother Dameke Mullings on Saturday. The man's former living condition was highlighted by the popular Instagram page Pinkwall in September.
This led to a flood of comments from good Samaritans wanting to assist him in getting back on his feet, along with passersby who have shared kind interactions with Theodore. He was described as pleasant by those who commented that he had asked them for spare change during their commute through the area.
The Jamaica Observer understands that Theodore, affectionately called Theo, had fallen on hard times and was also exposed to hard drugs by associates. It is believed that he was a "barrel child", as his parents are residing overseas. Barrel children are deemed to be abandoned or left behind by parents in their quest to seek better opportunities overseas.
Kamar Jordan, assistant secretary for Calabar Old Boys' Association (COBA), explained that he, too, was moved after coming across the social media post of his former schoolmate sitting on the street in downtown Kingston. Sharing that he knew Theodore during his time at the all-boys' institution, Jordan told the Sunday Observer that he had to jump on board to organise some assistance for him.
"A lot of people shared the Pinkwall post with me so I immediately made a comment and asked where he was because I wanted to locate him. The following day I went downtown and located him on King Street in the vicinity of the old Scotia building. Persons reached out that they wanted to help but some were hesitant because he was still on the street, so they didn't want to give him resources [only to learn afterwards that]... he got robbed. But so far I have collected a bag with some clothing items and I gave them to him in person," Jordan said.
For Dameke, coming across that social media post was heartbreaking. He told the Sunday Observer that he and his brother were born months apart, and they only met each other when they were both 21 years old. Dameke stated that he was aware of his brother's living situation and had made efforts to assist him with food and other items in the past.
"I used to give my mother-in-law anything that I had to give him, because I don't go downtown that often, but when I do go downtown I would go look for him and give him what I have," Dameke told the Sunday Observer.
Dameke, the younger of the two, also noted that he brought groceries and other items to his brother last week, but they were stolen while he slept later that night. This, he said, pushed him to work towards his brother's relocation.
Social media users who came across the post on Instagram speculated that Theodore had been living with mental illnesses, however, Dameke said this is not true. Dameke said that after transporting his brother to a nursing facility on Saturday, he learned that his brother was longing for love.
"When it comes to Theo, during an assessment at the home the woman realised that he misses his family, especially his mom. He said that he would love to just talk to her. He also mentioned some sisters, but I am not sure how many he has on his mom's side — we have one out here on our dad's side," Dameke explained.
He added, "Based on what I heard while she was assessing him, he got introduced to drugs and that is what got him to where he is right now. It also seems like he needed his mom's love."
Before this recent intervention by his family, Dameke said his brother's high school friends also attempted to get him off the streets.
"His friends came together and organised to get him a place to stay in Duhaney Park, but after a few months I heard that he ended up back downtown," he told the Sunday Observer.
A comment under the initial social media post corroborated the story, as a man who identified himself as a schoolmate shared that he, along with other Calabar old boys, pooled resources to assist Theodore a few years ago. The man stated that after putting things in place to assist him with overcoming addiction, "Theodore ran away one day".
"Addiction is a real thing, peeps. We tried, and there was a magnitude of help, but it was clear that he was hooked. Theodore Mullings was a smart yute when we attended Calabar. Don't know what cards were dealt to him but this is his reality," the man added.
Dameke, too, shared that his brother had a bright future ahead of him. He is also hopeful that things will turn around for him.
At the same time, Dameke told the Sunday Observer that he is committed to helping his brother through these hard times and pointed out that getting him off the streets is the first step in achieving that. Their father and other family members are also on board, said Dameke.
On Saturday morning I went [to the nursing home] to meet the caregivers, and walked around the home to see how they had it set up. I saw that it was good for him and I would want that for me if I was in his place, so we lined up the drive and went for him. He saw me and said, 'Dameke, wah gwaan? You come fi me ya now?' Theo is no harm. He is not 'mad'," he said, referring to the popular term used to describe people diagnosed with a mental illness.
As the dust settles Dameke said he is looking forward to his brother's rehabilitation. He said that Theodoew has shared the types of medication he is currently taking and has indicated that he is not hearing voices in his head — a question that was asked during his admittance to the nursing home.
"The plan is to get him on his feet. When he gets back on his feet we want to rent somewhere for him. I don't want him anywhere too far from where I am; I am hoping for somewhere that I can just walk to his yard. He told me that he has his subjects and he was going to college, so we really want to help him through this," said Dameke.
In the meantime, Jordan said that good Samaritans are also seeking to assist in the man's rehabilitation. He told the Sunday Observer that plans are afoot to collaborate with Dameke to see that Mullings receives all the assistance that he can get.
"I spoke to the lady at the home and she is saying that people cannot just call to get access to him so I now liaison with his brother. People have reached out to say that they want to help him but I had to put some of them on standby to put some structure in place because we need transparency. People want to know that when they send stuff, he will receive it," Jordan told the Sunday Observer.