(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Things are looking up for a young Jamaican who has been living on the streets of Argentina in dire poverty for some four months after he was evicted from his hotel and subsequently robbed of his documents and belongings.
The man, who has been in the South American country for just over a year, reportedly fell on hard times, was unable to foot his bills, and was kicked out of the hotel in which he was staying. Left to roam the streets, he was later discovered by an Argentine national who reached out to members of the Jamaican community there for assistance for him.
Good Samaritan Fitzroy Beckford, a 24-year-old Jamaican who has taken refuge in Argentina and a self-proclaimed human rights activist, has taken the young man who speaks no Spanish under his wings, even as help is being received from the Jamaican Embassy in Brazil.
The young man, who is not being named for privacy reasons, has since been put in contact with family members and is also being assisted financially.
“I collected his name and posted it on Facebook, and I found his (relative), and then with the publication that went out I was contacted by the Jamaican Embassy in Brazil, and they said they learnt about the situation through (a social media) post so they have been contacting me regarding his situation in getting him some assistance to get off the streets,” Beckford told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
He, however, said it has been hard getting a place for the Jamaican to shelter from the elements.
“His passport was stolen as well, so he has no documents. He is in the country and he is living on the streets and, due to the coronavirus, there is nowhere we could find to put him… like to rent a place… because no one is renting any apartment or any hotel or anything because of the virus. So currently I am the one in contact with him, assisting him with food, and a phone, connecting him with his (relatives) and so on, but the only difficulty now is getting him off the streets,” he told the Observer.
Asked whether the Jamaican national could be placed in a shelter, Beckford said that this has proven difficult.
“He is sleeping on the streets. They have shelters here but because of what he has been through on the streets there is a psychological problem and he doesn’t want to go to the shelter, because they have been physically abusing him there and he has a fear of returning to the shelter. We have been trying our best but he doesn’t want to go there, so he is on the streets,” he shared.
“His (relative) has sent money to buy food and stuff so he will come to my house and collect those, and we bought him a phone where he can be contacted by relatives or myself. At the moment I am still searching for a place for him to rent so he can have somewhere to live,” he said further.
Beckford, who explained that he is still gathering details from the young man, said he had been working informally for a while before he was hit by hard times.
“He came here on his own. He was cooking food and selling because here, in general, there is an economic crisis because I find it hard myself at times to pay rent. So I understand. It’s not like Jamaica where when you can’t pay the rent they will give you a bly [chance]. Here they will just put you out.
“I am doing the same thing as well. I sell things, I cook sometimes, wherever the money is, because not having any permanent identification can interfere with you getting a good job, so you have to wait until you get one and do the small jobs where they pay you a small amount of money,” he told the Observer.
According to Beckford, Jamaicans will head to Argentina because there is no visa requirement.
As for how he got there, Beckford, who has been living in Argentina for three years, said: “For my case, I came here to seek asylum, because Jamaica is a place where it is not protective of LGBT persons, so many of us were attacked, shot, stabbed, and those things, so we try to save our lives and come here.”
As for the young man under his partial care, Beckford believes that he should head back to Jamaica when his documents are restored.
“I would say he is affected mentally, because of what he is going through right now. The embassy is trying to help him get his passport back [and] we are trying to get his birth certificate. I think that would be a good idea [for him to return to Jamaica], because here is a very poor country and I wouldn’t recommend he stays here because I would want to go home as well,” he told the Observer.