Not long ago, 31-year-old Latoya Williams was facing the reality of being homeless and unemployed with four children, and local authorities threatening to take her children from her. Now, she says she has much to give thanks for, primarily because Food For The Poor (FFP) Jamaica recently gave her a house.
Williams, who now resides along St John’s Road in St Catherine, was evicted because she was unable to pay her rent. With nowhere to live, authorities told her they would take her children from her and place them in care of the State. After being told this, Williams developed a plan to get a house.
“I used to buy and sell downtown with goods such as bag juice and cookies, but I haven’t been selling since the year began because things got hard on me. I would borrow to buy the goods, and when things don’t turn over with a good profit, I can’t repay,” Williams said in an interview.
“Then I couldn’t pay the rent or send the children to school, so I got evicted. With all of what was going on, I went to Food For The Poor with the hope of applying for a house and getting it. I was told I needed a letter from a Justice of the Peace and my grandmother who owns the land the house was built on, so I went and got those and submitted it, then they selected me for a house.”
FFP Jamaica along with Rainforest Seafoods Limited built the house for Williams during Holy Week.
“I am so grateful. Mi did think mi did ina one gutter weh mi couldn’t come out of, but with the house Food For The Poor gave to me, is like I am coming out of the gutter. All I need to do now is start sell again, and I have another plan for that. I just need a freezer and go downtown and start buy the bag juice them in a big bulk and store them in the freezer,” Williams said.
David Mair, Executive Director, FFP Jamaica, said when the case for Williams was presented to his team, they could not resist assisting.
“When you saw her story, you would have been heartbroken. Immediately after she was evicted, she was literally on the street with her children. She came to us, presented her case and showed us the documents regarding her eviction and her case with the court and her children. We had to assist her, because without a house, she would have lost her children,” Mair said.
He further stated, “Our first 5K Run/Walk which was held in 2015 had a focus of raising funds to build houses for mothers who are in dire need of houses. Our 5K was also planned for May, on the Eve of Mother’s Day, because we see a greater amount in applications being submitted by mothers who need relief assistance along with their children. Williams is one of those mothers. It is so fitting that she has gotten a house two weeks before we launch our next 5K Run/Walk on April 5.”
Rainforest Seafoods are the sponsors who donated the funds needed to construct the house. Roger Lyn, Marketing Manager of the company, said when Marsha Burrell, Development/Marketing Manager, FFP Jamaica called and presented the case to him, his team could not resist assisting.
“When you heard and saw the circumstance of this family, you would have been heartbroken. We had to help. It was a no-brainer, because Rainforest Seafoods is all about family, and keeping families together. We have done work with Food For The Poor before and we were proud to partner with them in building a house again,” Lyn said.
Williams expressed gratitude to both organisations for helping her.
“I am so grateful. I could not afford a house because I started out wrong in life, and my parents could not afford to give me a good education. When I was to do Caribbean Examination Council subjects, my mother seh she can’t pay fi dem. Dem fi send mi home. After leaving school I have to be buying and selling. I made mistakes, but I want better for my children,” the single mother said.