A messy situation - Public health inspector seeks help for struggling family

January 07, 2022
The outside toilet structure that the family is forced to use.
The outside toilet structure that the family is forced to use.
The interior of the dwelling.
The interior of the dwelling.
The rundown home in which Sharon lives with her four daughters.
The rundown home in which Sharon lives with her four daughters.

A dilapidated structure and a caving roof with no bathroom facilities is what Sharon* and her four daughters have called home in St Ann for the past 12 years.

Their condition has brought tears to her eyes on several occasions, most recently being when she was summoned to court for breaching the Public Health Act, Public Health Nuisance Regulation.

The 27-year-old was being prosecuted for 'parachuting', a term used when persons release their faeces in a bag and throw it on to another premises. The family's unfortunate circumstances were noted by Shavine Rose, a public health inspector, who told THE WEEKEND STAR that she received complaints about Sharon from as early as 2019. A notice was served but Rose became curious when another report was made last May, so she decided to investigate.

"I took her to court [last November] about the toilet and it was so emotional in court because she really doesn't have it. At the same time, I still have to do my job. I still have to take persons to court if they don't comply to the nuisance or the notice that was served to them. So, what happened is that I took her to court and the judge kind of understood that she didn't have any money and the judge gave her 14 days to start as it relates to the toilet facility. I told her that I would come around and check her because the judge told her that if I have to take her to court again, she is going to charge her," Rose related.

She said that she made the conscious decision not to prosecute Sharon a second time, following her impassioned plea in court that she was a poor single mother of four. The judge, according to Rose, let Sharon off with a warning.

"In 2019, I served her the notice so when I got this one now, I went around there and I saw that she didn't do anything. So, I said to her that I know that you don't have it but you have to try something and show me that [you are serious] because at the end of the day persons are affected by what she is doing," Rose explained.

Saddened by the situation, Rose decided to launch a GoFundMe campaign, aimed at raising US$5,000 to assist in building a bathroom. Rose believes the family could do well with a sturdy structure too but no donations have been made yet.

Sharon explained that it pains her to raise her daughters in such deplorable conditions but she tries her best to give the children, ages 12, seven, three and one, the best in whatever way she can. She was previously employed as a bartender but lost her job due to the novel coronavirus.

"Outside we bade, outside we go [for everything]. Me more than feel a way. Dem (the children) complain sometimes and say 'mommy me caah badda with this yuh know'. I cry about it sometimes," Sharon said.

Since the judge's ruling, Sharon has started digging a pit latrine and has been using an old toilet. She is earnest in her endeavours to improve their quality of life.

"I really want them to have a good home. The bed conditions stay bad [because] the bed bottom, a board hold them up. The roof a leak and I just want dem to get somewhere proper," Sharon told the news team.

*Name changed

Donations may be made via https://gofund.me/fb03a829

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