Former National Tennis star now roaming the streets…
April 29, 2005
Former National Tennis star now roaming the streets…

Last week we shed light on the lives of the homeless, some of whom shared their tale bringing to the fore the horrors of street life. Many of them are on the streets by choice, others through difficult circumstances.

Their horrors we learnt came as a result of the many negative social influences they faced. This is supported in theory by sociologists who argue that the destitute conditions people face are all classed under social stratification. But, if for one minute you think everyone who ends up on the streets are uneducated, take the case of Rohan “Coman” Adams, the 30 year-old has been living on the streets since 1995. A former Lodge Village Primary and St. Martins Secondary School student, Coman rose to local stardom as a national tennis player. At one point, he was ranked number one in the country. He recalled that he once represented the country on the regional tennis circuit, in Trinidad and St. Lucia as a tennis star. {{more}}

Now, he roams the streets a nomadic beggar. With no savings and no stable job, Coman has joined the army of colourful characters who roam the city’s streets. He is one of the few that is well liked and still finds acceptance in some quarters.

His days are spent washing vehicles on the side of the road for a living. So far he has built up an impressive clientele, washing a number of high-end vehicles regularly.

His off-white bucket, filled with what looks like drainage water and a rag cloth, brings in enough income not just to buy food, but sufficient to buy a small “rock” to satisfy his cocaine craving.

The former top national lawn tennis player confessed how he ended up on the streets: “I am a former Lodge Village and St. Martin’s Secondary School student. But through badness, I dropped out of school at Form Three.”

He claimed he was influenced to leave school and traffic marijuana for friends from Chateaubelair and Green Hill. Something he now lives to regret.

“I went to Union Island to work as a labourer, that is how I got hooked on crack. I was 21 years old at the time,” he added.

He admitted to having a nervous breakdown after not getting the chance to be with a female.

“I was about to run off to Switzerland with a white lady who introduced me to cocaine in Union Island, but my mother called the police to stop me from going,” he said.

Living on the streets for 10 years now, he has become immune to the harsh conditions. “I have been living on the streets for a while now, so I know the hustle. When I wash down vehicles, I get money to buy food, I don’t eat out of garbage like the others,” he said.

His reasoning goes beyond any normal standards. From “small talk” with the talented youth, one can easily pick up that this is an intelligent person who has fallen through society’s cracks.

“I am on the streets because the house at home is full,” Coman explained to Searchlight. But, according to relative Susan “Mary” Baptiste, his continuous “crazy-like” action is reason for concern.

“He can do better than that, he [is] educated and could try and help himself, but he turn miserable,” she said.

“I feel terrible about all this wid’ Coman. I try talk to him like a sister, but he doesn’t listen.”

Mary, who resides in the Bottom Town area, is one of the few relatives who continue to show interest in his life

“He is really nice to me, not troublesome or anything,” she said. She is hoping that her continuous encouragement for him to clean up his act will one day make an impact on him.

Battling with himself

For Coman, being addicted to cocaine is not easy; everyday of his life is a battle to stay clean.

His regular trips to cocaine peddlers in the city are triggered by aggravation. “When my mind gets irritated I take cocaine, but only a few times per week,” he confessed.

He spoke of plans to move off the streets soon. He hopes he could eventually clean up his act, obtain a meaningful job and find somewhere to live. Until then, he finds shelter under a bridge at Heritage Square.

Crawling vermin and insects interrupt his sleep at nights. Edged over the riverbed he light’s a cigarette… “This is where I sleep, I relax here at nights when I finish cleaning vehicles,” he said.

Occasionally, he cleans the riverbed under the bridge, unlike some street people who make a mess of the drains much to the displeasure of others.

To some business owners, there might be satisfaction in knowing the homeless are less visible around their business places. But the reality of that happening any time soon is rather uncertain.

“Majority of them cause a problem to businesses,” said one businesswoman.

The owner of a popular fast food outlet in Kingstown said her business suffers because of the amount of vagrants surrounding the front of the business place.

“They come here and beg people, when they don’t get anything they dig up the trash in front of my place and cause a mess,” she said.

She is concerned about the loitering around her business place and the constant harassment and verbal abuse.

Another business owner mentioned that the problem is slowing business down for him.

“I have customers reaching my business place and turning back, one person was even assaulted as a result of these people loitering,” he said.

This is an issue that will not go away easily. Solutions have to be found to this growing problem. It is not enough for us to pretend that these homeless persons do not exist, as long as they do not affect us personally. We all must look out for our brothers.