(Jamaica Star) Karen scrolls through her cell phone as she lays on her bed beside her husband, Shawn. She flashes the news team a welcoming smile before inviting us into her ‘bedroom’. It is not the typical living space. Karen have been living under the bridge in Edgewater, Portmore, for close to 10 years
Their ‘roof’ trembles with the passing of each heavy vehicle, but what gives the chill is the huge breakaway in the ground, caused by heavy rains undermining the ground close to their bed post. At any given moment, their bed and living space could end up in the water below.
“When di rain fall di odda day, it start blow in on mi. Half a di bed wet up so mi had to sleep on di odda half and make sure mi wrap up tight in the sheet because mi neva waah mi asthma take mi. Nobody nuh suppose to live right here so, especially somebody with asthma, but mi don’t have no other choice. Mi really wish we life did better,” Karen told THE STAR.
The couple, who are both in their 30s, said they have been in a relationship for 11 years and have been married for two years. They have a 10-year-old son, who they say lives with relatives in St Ann. Karen has three other children, but stated that two of them are in state care.
Shawn says that he has access to a ‘family house’ in a section of Portmore but has decided to stay with his wife under the bridge because she is no longer welcome at that property following a family dispute.
He said he was grateful when she was invited to share living space under the bridge with one of her long-time friends, Paul Grant, who had resided at the same location for almost 19 years.
CHILDREN UNDER ONE ROOF
Their greatest wish is to have all their children under one roof, but that dream seems far-fetched as the couple said they are unable to secure a piece of land, should they even get a house from Food for the Poor. They said a two-bedroom house would be sufficient for them and their children, and are pleading with the public for assistance.
“The authorities said if mi get a steady house that me can put them in, and once mi prove say mi can care for dem, dem will release dem to mi,” Karen said.
She said they are often targeted by robbers who frequently steal their money and belongings.
“We can’t leave anything out. Mi wife will just lie dung a sleep and a man just come take up har tings dem so dats why mi have to make sure mi out here with har most a di time. Mi can stay a mi people dem place but she also trouble with fits (epilepsy) and asthma, and a night time it mostly take her, so dats why mi deh here too. A mi wife and mi nuh like left her so far,” Shawn said.
Both have been diagnosed with low blood pressure and Shawn is currently recovering from gastroenteritis. He does odd jobs to provide for his wife, but most of their provisions come from a nearby church and a family member of Karen’s.
“Mi uncle will give mi clothes and ting and mi always make sure if is even a pants mi get for my husband. Mi uncle well waah help we but him nuh have it like that and mi parents dead. Mi just want a house for us,” Karen said.