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Homeless for Easter


Six people who were left homeless by a fire in Swallowfield, off Old Hope Road in St Andrew, on March 12 have been having a difficult time coping with the weekend lockdowns imposed by the Government to stem spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Everything extra hard now. Mi cyaan replace nothing. Mi a stay with mi girlfriend and mi nuh have nuh money right yah now fi gi mi yute dem, as mi woulda normally do. Nuh matter how small it be, mi always a look out fi dem. But work hours cut from Thursday, so mi nuh get no money,” 40-year-old Damion Mclean shared with the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Mitchell said he was asleep at the time of the fire. He was rescued by a family member after his two-bedroom home was almost completely engulfed by the flames.

“Mi neva know nothing. Mi inna the house and half a one a di room dem gone already. A bare fire. A mi daughter dem uncle mek mi go through a side door. Me nuh get fi grab nothing, mi just run out inna mi socks,” he said.

It was reported that the fire started at one house and spread to five that were adjoined.

Already facing a financial drought because of the pandemic, Mclean said he is now fighting a tough battle.

Christina Jones, who has an eight-month-old daughter and has been living in Swallowfield for two years, lost her one-bedroom dwelling.

“I remember Food For the Poor came and gave us some food items and stuff. And some other people came and gave us mattresses and so, but in terms of structure, there’s nothing there. It’s kinda crazy because I have an eight-month-old baby and she has to be staying all the way in Mandeville. It is kinda frustrating in a way. I have to be back and forth to Mandeville,” she said.

“I can’t stay there. It’s kinda uncomfortable. I don’t mind staying in Kingston, so I stay by a lady most of the times. But my daughter has to be staying with my sister in Mandeville. I had a concrete one-room with kitchen and bathroom. It was very small but comfortable, because I had basically everything that I wanted in there,” Jones said.

She said she has now been left with nothing, causing her to be dependent on others, which is counter to how she was raised.

“I don’t beg people anything because I wasn’t grown like that. Any of my neighbours can say that. I had everything that I could possibly need. That’s why everything is difficult for me now. When I was younger, my granny would beat us if we took things from people, so that stick with me. I think what really hurt is just watching them [houses] burn. It tek like literally 15 minutes fi everything just gone totally. Mi a try hold it down for these past few days, but it is crazy,” she told the Observer.

“It’s frustrating. I had plans for my baby. I really don’t know what to think sometimes. Just last year I finished paying for my bed from Courts. I took a TV and a stove from them. At the house now, it’s just the frame lean up outside. Mi cyaan believe it.”

“In a time like this, when wi get a little time from work and so forth, I would be lying down in my bed and watching two show. I like games and so, so probably I would be playing bingo with my friends round a mi house or something,” said Jones.

Samoy Smith, who observed her birthday yesterday, told the Observer that her home was completely burnt out.

“It’s a one-bedroom with a bathroom and a kitchen. The furniture that were in there gone and the roof cave in. I can’t stay in it because the roof gone. My cousin lost everything. My uncle lost every single thing. The kids lost everything,” she said.

“Today is my birthday. It’s rough, but we have life. This is my first time celebrating Easter and my birthday without a home. Right now, others are worse than I am. I am one of the victims, but the others are worse than I am. Their entire house is flat.”

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