Elderly man endures harsh ‘bush’ conditions
A winding pathway in the Ferry community on the St Andrew and St Catherine border leads to the humble abode of 83-year-old Harold Moore, a place he reluctantly calls home. This journey, from busy Mandela Highway onto the rugged pathway, bears a stark similarity of the struggles that Moore faced in life that eventually led to near homelessness.
The pathway, which includes a makeshift bridge, is dense with foliage and, with the exception of farmlands, there are few signs of consistent human activity.
Moore has no close neighbours. His house is situated in the middle of an agricultural plot. The landowner has given him permission to stay there. He sleeps in a structure that comprises a thatched roof supported by shaky wooden posts, with tarpaulin serving as its walls. Rainwater seeps through whenever it rains, making his living conditions even more challenging.
"This is my area and this is the condition I am living in for the time being," he said in a rather depressing tone.
An old transistor radio and a 'banger phone' helps Moore stay with the 'outside world'. He keeps his cell phone wrapped in a transparent plastic bag to protect it for getting damage. Charging the instrument requires him to seek help from people in the area, as he lacks access to electricity. His only source of light in the darkness is a flashlight.
Moore is among the nearly 17 per cent of Jamaicans living in poverty, but he told THE STAR that he has not always lived like this. He said that he was a painter in earlier days, but a series of misfortune has left him in dire straits.
"I was a tradesman, a professional painter, but circumstances have left me unable to work, and I can't afford rent any more," Moore lamented.
He claimed to have lost all his furniture years ago, after the relationship with a former partner turned sour. He said that he attempted to rebuild his life, but suffered a massive setback when his wife of eight years succumbed to hypertension in the mid-1970s.
The destitute man said he lived with friends and family for approximately five years, but exhausted their goodwill and decided to try and make it on his own.
"I've missed some opportunities that I put a lot of effort and money in. I really made some bad decision when I was younger, and that set me up in a way fi start over when it too late. I was really discouraged; the only thing that gave me hope is, despite everything I have been going through, God has been with me."
Moore said he was born in St Mary and lived in St James for many years, but moved to the Corporate Area after the death of his wife. Since moving to the bushes in Ferry about four months ago, Moore said he has relied on the kindness of persons who provide him with essential items.
"If mi never have food to eat with the rain that fall here for the past three days, I don't know how I would manage. I would die in here alone," he said.
Last week, sections of the island experienced torrential downpour, and Ferry got its fair share of the adverse weather conditions. The destitute senior said it was the grace of God that shielded him from harm.
"Some breed a breeze blow, mi think a hurricane," he said, adding that if the country is faced with a storm system, he may not survive it in his hut.
A man of faith, Moore believes that in the same way that God sent a raven to feed Elijah, he, too, will be rescued by the Grace of God. His fervent wish is for help to put a roof over his head.
"I have two sons; one lives abroad, but he doesn't assist me. The other one resides in St Mary, but he's not in a position to help," he said.
"I just need help to get a house, somewhere to live," said Moore, who appears to be a prime candidate to benefit from the Government's New Social Housing Programme.