Plagued by thieves - Student vendor looks to foreign land

May 15, 2017
Orete Telfer who paid for his schooling by selling snacks at the University of Technology.

In 2011, while in his second year at university, Orete Telfer came up with the idea to sell snacks, sweets and beverages to the students on the Papine campus of the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech).

He quickly became known as the man that students could rely on for refreshments in the days and even in the wee hours of the nights.

Telfer would walk almost every inch of the tertiary institution's campus seeking sales. He used the profits to supplement his daily travelling expenses and lunch money. He also combined a portion of the profits he made while working overseas during the summers to help pay his tuition.

After attaining his Bachelor of Science degree in general management in 2013, Telfer was adamant that he wanted to be his own boss.

"You know, me neva did look no work still. Mi did always want fi be self-employed," Telfer said.

He opted to continue selling at UTech and sought to expand his business by attaining a food handler's permit, purchasing equipment that he could use to prepare fast food and later a truck, which he was intent on converting into a mobile restaurant.

"Mi did a dweet full-time, and me did a try fi enhance it fi mek it into a formal business," Telfer said.

However, he would encounter his first major setback when his proposal to sell from his truck on UTech's campus was rejected, despite his claims that he had fulfilled all the requirements needed to operate at the institution.

"I had to put that on pause," he said.

Despite this, Telfer continued to walk the grounds of the tertiary institution with his bags of goods. However, last April he would encounter another hurdle when his car was broken into on the university's campus and some of the equipment that he used to run his business were stolen.

"Mi deep fryer, me kettle, me sandwich maker, my goods dem weh me did buy, all a dem deh dem thief outta the car," Telfer said.




Disappointed but not defeated, he continued his regular routine and repurchased a set of equipment.

However, thieves struck for a second time. This time he was robbed at gunpoint while making his way to his downtown Kingston home one August night. The criminals relieved him of a sum of money and his phone.

"The gunman dem rob me, one grab me phone and tell the next one fi shoot me. Him shoot after me and it go lodge inna the car and me drive off," he recounted.

A third robbery was to occur in February of this year when three gunmen broke into his house while he was home and robbed him of all his electrical appliances.

"Three gunman come inna mi house with mi in deh and dem rob mi phone, mi laptop, modem, and some other little stuff mi have. Mi decide seh mi a go leave from the area, so mi pack up some a my stuff like clothes, documents and suh, and stay by one a mi friend. Only fi hear seh dem come back di next day come clean out me house," Telfer said.

Plagued by robbery, Telfer has since left the area that he use to reside and is now intent on migrating to a foreign country.

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