No help, despite pleas
A ST MICHAEL FAMILY of eight has taken its dire situation to the streets.
Already hurting from losing everything they had to fire last November in Wildey, St Michael, and with only one breadwinner in the household, the patriarch of the family, Robert Howard, took matters into his own hands on Saturday.
From about midday, Howard made himself a spectacle along Country Road, St Michael, close to the National Housing Corporation at Country Towers where he, his daughter, son-in-law and five grandchildren, ranging in age from two to 15, are temporarily housed.
Braving the midday sun with placard in hand, the 59-year-old appealed to passers-by for donations to help them with necessities. More than four hours later the only things he noticed were stares and a few laughs as people drove by. He had not even reached his immediate goal. Some children came by with clothes in a small plastic bag when the DAILY?NATION team was there.
“I would like chicken to eat . . . and I can’t buy none. My grandchildren want something to eat . . . ; all I got in dey is li’l rice and peas. I ain’t got nutten else in dey. And I ain’t gine get de lil cheque from Government before the 23rd or so . . . . So you see how long I gotta suffer before I get something,” Howard said, as he held the sign towards oncoming traffic to see if he could get enough to buy at least a chicken.
He plans to take his appeal to The City sometime this week and to various churches to see if his fortunes improve.
“Somebody got to see and come forward wid something. Only today it come to my mind. I shoulda do it ever since,” Howard said.
His daughter Abigail Worrell, who was lending him moral support from behind the guardwall, lamented their worsening situation.
She was getting the occasional $150 stipend from Government as part of an agricultural programme run by Undene Whittaker, but that stopped when the programme was temporarily suspended.
Her husband is now working reduced hours and that has put further strain on the family. Two of the children should be getting child support through the courts, but that was not timely and often non-existent.
“It real hard. I wish I could get help but everybody does think that because yuh married, yuh does don’t need help,” said the 29-year-old.
She added that the family got beds, other furnishings and $300 in food when they moved into the house after the fire. She also got donations of uniforms and personal items for the children, but things are tough.
The young mother said she had applied to several places for jobs, but without success. She feels she is being discriminated against because she went to a senior school.
“When we go to fill out a application form we don’t get nuh help. People believe that because we slow, we dumb, we stupid, we retarded; we ain’t got no common sense. But we do have common sense. You don’t know what we can do . . . . I wish they would look at us different and give us a chance,” she pleaded.
Howard, who left the Government service medically unfit in 2005, said he was getting some assistance from the Welfare Department through the years but that might have come to an end on December 23, when he got a cheque to buy groceries for Christmas, because the impression was created that the family gets $150 in food weekly.
He said he went to the department to ask for a food voucher and an officer there told him she would have to speak with his daughter and son-in-law first. He received no vouchers after that.
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