Sleeping on the grounds of the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) for approximately 20 years, 64-year-old Castie Anderson had one recurrent dream, that was to live in a home again.
In 2013, her dream was realised when her daughter, Celine Collins-Bryan, from whom she had been separated for some time, launched a search and found her, desolate in downtown Kingston.
“I had been living unhappy knowing I don’t have a mother. When it comes around to Mother’s Day and I see people with their mother, mi always feel left out. I want to share my happiness with her just the same as how others share their happiness with their mother,” Collins-Bryan, a resident of St Thomas, said in an interview recently.
Like her mother, Collins-Bryan also had a dream about a house. The structure that she occupied was tiny and a far cry from what she envisioned for her long lost mom. Her desire was for someone to help her to build a new house so she could better accommodate her mother when she found her.
Collins-Bryan’s joy of locating her mother pushed her to apply to Food For The Poor (FFP) Jamaica for one of the houses they were donating through their annual 5K Run/Walk.
After receiving the application, FFP Jamaica in partnership with The Honourable Douglas Orane, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, GraceKennedy Group, and his family members, decided to construct a house for the women.
“It’s really a heartrending story. She [Collins Bryan] went on a radio programme and appealed for anyone who knew her [Anderson]. She was able to find her and now they are reunited and needed somewhere to live, because where they were was very small,” Orane said in an interview on March 10 before handing over keys to Andersonfor her new home.
Orane added, “One of the things I have done in life, is to help those who are in need, and I have found Food For The Poor as a wonderful organisation to do this with, because they are very well organised, transparent in how they function.”
David Mair, Executive Director, FFP Jamaica, says his charity organisation is pleased that they have now made the life of Anderson and Collins-Bryan smoother, and will continue to support them with sustainable income earning initiatives.
“Our team is elated to have been able to offer these two women comfort, a new perspective on life and a house. We are now working towards helping 100 more persons with housing from funds we will raise in our upcoming 5K Run/Walk event on May 13,” Mair said.
Anderson and Collins-Bryan have high praises for FFP, Orane and his family members.
“We’re very grateful. I feel like I am one in a million. It’s been a long journey, a very long journey, and we just have to give God and Food For The Poor thanks,” Collins-Bryan said.
Anderson said the last time she lived in a house was in the 90s when she resided in Stony Hill, St Andrew with family members. She said she left because she felt she was being exploited. After leaving, she started sleeping on the streets of downtown Kingston and on the compound of KPH.
“Sometime I used to sleep outside of the hospital and inside. There were times when di bad boy dem run in and di people dem run we out. Sometimes me out deh and mek up mi cardboard pan di sidewalk,” Anderson said.
Orane is calling on members of the private sector to support FFP Jamaica’s upcoming 5K Run/Walk, because funds raised from the event will be used to construct houses for more needy Jamaicans.
“As a business person, now retired, I know from experience corporations help as much as they can. It’s wonderful for individuals and families to step up to the plate and make a difference in this world. I hope this will encourage other individuals and other families to help Jamaicans in need,” Orane said.