Single mom turns to sweets after losing job
It's almost impossible to travel along Harbour Street in downtown Kingston and not take a second glance at a young woman clutching her toddler as she sells sweets from a plastic jar.
The vendor is 28-year-old Paula Townsene, and her three-year-old son Jarden Thompson. She said she lost her janitor job shortly after the deadly COVID-19 pandemic hit local shores.
"I was seeking a job for a while without any luck so mi just decide to get a bottle of sweetie and just duh summen just to take care a mi son. Is about six months now mi out here and mi carry mi son every single day. I just don't come out on Saturdays because I have to go to church," she said. "Sometimes I make $800 or $1,000 a day but I have to buy back another pack of sweet or even two and that can cost me up to $500. I still manage to use the rest an buy my baby's Lasco, snack and pampers. Sometimes even if I don't get to eat I am okay because once his belly is full, I feel full as well."
Little Jarden was sleeping peacefully in his mother's arms when THE STAR team visited her. Townsene had already sold several sweets and said she would be leaving for home by 3 p.m.
"When I was working I used to leave him at the creche (nursery) but I am not working now so I don't leave him anywhere. Is mi and him alone live so I take him with mi every day. This morning (Tuesday) the rain was falling and I didn't want to come out but I just wait until it ease down and come out because I have to look it for my son," she said.
Townsene, a single mother, said she is extremely grateful to a good Samaritan who offered her a room on nearby King Street.
"I was living with relatives before but for the past two years, this kind woman gave me a place to stay. I am really thankful because I didn't have much furniture and she just give me the place to stay and that's where I have been. My church sisters help me out sometimes and there are times when persons will just give me a small change when they are passing and don't bother take the sweets," she said.
Currently Jarden is not enrolled in an early childhood institution as Townsene said she is unable to meet the financial expenses associated with getting him registered. She, however, teaches him via a Leap Pad that he has, between making sales.
"If I get the help, I will ensure he goes to school but I can't afford it yet. I try my best not to let him get leave behind so I teach him during the days. I really wish I could get a job also because that would help me greatly. I just want to make it a better life for him," she said.