‘No one is sup­posed to live like that’

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Ce­celia Camp­bell-Liv­ingston/ Gleaner Writer ed­i­to­rial@glean­erjm.com

MILK RIVER, CLAREN­DON: JEREMIAH WATSON has no idea of his age. Re­al­ity seems to be some­thing that has to­tally es­caped him as he pushes his head through the makeshift door-win­dow from the smelly shed he calls home.

He bab­bles in­co­her­ently while his two friends, Verona Dou­glas and Debby Don­ald­son, who also live in the com­mu­nity of Rest in Milk River, Claren­don, talk good-na­turedly with him.

“He has been liv­ing in this com­mu­nity for the long­est time and he has al­ways been like this,” said Dou­glas, who said that Watson is re­port­edly a rel­a­tive of “a fa­mous singer in Eng­land who died re­cently ... .

“Yes, Mil­lie Small!” she re­calls. Com­ment­ing on the smelly room, Don­ald­son said he re­ceives a reg­u­lar change of cloth­ing, but he of­ten just dumps the dirty ones in­side rather than wash­ing them or throw­ing them out.

Ac­cord­ing to Dou­glas, she has never seen any fam­ily vis­it­ing Watson, and the com­mu­nity has been tak­ing on the re­spon­si­bil­ity of en­sur­ing that he gets meals and cloth­ing. Now, the two friends said, the com­mu­nity’s pri­mary goal is to se­cure a bet­ter dwelling for Watson.

“One day when the rain was fall­ing re­ally hard, I saw him lift­ing the mat­tress to put over his head. No one is sup­posed to live like that,” said Dou­glas.

Don­ald­son, while ac­knowl­edg­ing that Watson is “not in his right mind”, agreed, adding that he, too, has a place in so­ci­ety and needs to be fed, taken care of, and have a good roof over his head.

Don­ald­son ruled out the May Pen In­fir­mary as a so­lu­tion as he said that Watson “thinks he has a home, and from time to time, he will want to re­turn”. She also be­lieves that it would break his heart to leave the only place he has known for years.

It is for that rea­son, that she, along with other res­i­dents of Rest, are try­ing to erect a struc­ture for Watson to live in.

“We would like help from Food For

The Poor to as­sist us, and when we are fin­ished, to en­sure he has a bed,” said Don­ald­son.

“He is not mad,” a pas­sion­ate Dou­glas said. “Some­thing slip, but peo­ple send him out on er­rands, and he does them. He cuts the yard, and they give him a stipend.”

“He might not be able to have a proper con­ver­sa­tion, but you talk to him and he makes you laugh, and if some­body can make me laugh, I am gonna keep talk­ing to him,” Don­ald­son added.

PHO­TOS BY KENYON HEMANS/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Jeremiah Watson emerg­ing from his shack, which res­i­dents of Milk River are seek­ing help to re­place in or­der to im­prove the se­nior cit­i­zen’s liv­ing con­di­tions.

Jeremiah Watson, re­put­edly a rel­a­tive of late Ja­maican song­bird Mil­lie Small, in­side his one-room shack in Rest, Milk River, Claren­don, on Wed­nes­day.

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