FINANCIALLY devastated and hungry, residents in locked-down in some St Mary South Eastern communities are calling for food.
Just two days into a 14-day quarantine imposed on Annotto Bay, Juno Pen in Enfield, Iter Boreale, and Dover by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) to contain the spread of COVID-19, locals say their cupboards are empty.
Hundreds of care packages have been delivered by teams from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) to the communities, but some residents say that they have been left out.
“The packages were [being] handed out yesterday but they were asking for TRN (tax registration numbers) and IDs (identification), but I couldn’t find my ID so I just went back home,” Juno Pen resident Sherene Williams told the Jamaica Observer on Saturday.
She was making her way to the main road to ascertain whether or not her daughter, whom she said is an attorney-at-law, could deliver food.
“I have three young kids and they lock us in so what are we going to do? What are we supposed to do?” the woman questioned.
The cry was the same for another resident who did not wish to be named.
The woman told the Observer that she went with the ID for her octogenarian mother, who was unable to “make it down the hill to the square”, to collect a package but was told that she needed to have had her TRN as well.
She left without the package.
A MLSS worker, who had been logging information collected from residents, told the Observer, on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak with the media, that although some residents were unable to produce TRN cards they still received packages.
He said that the documents were only being requested to give the ministry a better understanding of what the needs were in the communities.
He declined to continue when pressed by the Observer for more information.
Enfield resident Alvin Webster has suggested that the “disorganised” manner in which the packages — some containing oil, sardines, corned beef, mackerel, rice, flour, and cornmeal, among other things — were distributed contributed to individuals missing out.
“Who come with the food don’t know the people dem inna the community, so you going to have to work with someone in the community who know the people dem. That person can identify people and tell you who get already from who don’t get yet. If you don’t know the people dem you can’t just come park up suh and a hand out; all six, seven time one person will get because you don’t know the faces. So wi going be out here so the next time dem come whosoever didn’t get can get,” said Webster.
Maizie Green, 82, was not aware that food had arrived in the community and so she, too, missed the boat.
“Mi nuh see none a distribute sah, and a right there inna the road mi live,” the senior said, pointing to her house just off the community’s main road. “Nothing at all we nuh get and dem stop wi from go out,” the Juno Pen resident said.
Her neighbour Andrew, who paid attention to the conversation, concluded that “hunger a go kill wi before COVID-19”.
Earlier that day, a vexed Verona Dacres lashed out at authorities, declaring that she would not leave the streets until food had been delivered.
The woman, who said that others were afraid to speak up, insisted that those in charge were far removed from the plight of residents whom they have backed into a corner.
“Nobody nuh come and seh [nothing] — no shopping day, nothing. How wi fi survive? Wi need food! ‘Round a mi house empty. See mi young baby yah; no feeding no [diaper],” Dacres declared.
“Weh wi fi eat? Wi can’t come a road. Wi need food. Mi naah stay in and dead fi hungry; mi a come a road come look food. So if unuh nuh want mi a road unuh carry food come give wi and wi stay off a di road. Wi nuh get nuh package, and mi naah come offa di road til mi get food,” the Juno Pen native stressed.
Orville Can, who left his community in Epsom for Annotto Bay in search of food, said that the authorities were doing a great disservice to people in his community with the lockdown.
According to Can, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in his community.
“Unuh fi carry truck wid di soldier dem when unuh a come wid food come gi people. A prison dem have wi inna right now. We can live inna the country without food? Dem lock down Epsom and nuh corona[virus] nuh deh Epsom. Mi see dem pon TV a talk seh dem a go carry food. Unuh shouldn’t make day light and people nuh get food. Right now you can’t even hustle fi buy food. A foolishness this. Dem a help suffer yuh more and more. Mi understand why dem lock it down, but lock down the people dem wid food,” Can said.
Carlton Douglas, too, claimed that he had no food.
“Wi a nuh prisoner. Yuh cyaan treat wi suh [Prime Minister] Andrew Holness. Yuh haffi do something Brogad. Brogad, wi want food,” said Douglas.
The restrictions were put in place to limit community transmission as investigations show that there is considerable movement of affected people, which has increased the risk of exposure to all in the communities, the MOHW has said.
St Mary has now recorded 18 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
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