April 22, 2005

Sprawled on the bare floor in front of the Salvation Army gallery was Parnel Ford. This man has spent more than half his life fending on the streets. Just 42-years-old, he has graduated from the newly emerging and younger class of street people, the “Street Kids”. {{more}}

His story is that after he was “put out” on the streets at the age of 14, he managed to survive numerous attacks on his life. He complains of abuse from both police officers and civilians.

The night before we spoke to him he had to flee from people he claimed were out to get him. Ford disclosed that he recently received a “gun-butt” from a police officer who pulled away his food he had recovered from the garbage bins.

This undernourished nomad makes a living picking up bottles and reselling them to vendors.

“I normally pick up bottles and give to seasoning and essence vendors and the beer bottles go back to the brewery,” he said.

Ford, who once plied the trade of a fisherman admitted that his little income goes to satisfy his cocaine habit: “I buy food and cigarettes when I get money from the bottles, and a little cocaine as well,” he mentioned.

Though his life on the street is a constant struggle, he claims it is made worse by the people who keep threatening his life. “They pee in me face when I am sleeping at nights…they kick we around and chop we up for no reason just because we have no where but the streets to go,” he said.

“Almost every night somebody ah do me something. This really need to go in the papers,” he went on.

Ford described one scene where his foodstuff was stolen by some one who was not even living on the streets.

The homeless man sniffs. His allergies are bothering him, he says. But there is no money to buy cocaine to satisfy his habit. He quickly forces the interview to an abrupt end, as he has to rush off to pick up some bottles, to earn whatever little change he can to get a savour of his nightly dose.

He said: “If the government provides somewhere for us to go I would go, but I would need something to do.”