Couple, 3-y-o live in tent on beach
With another child due, cycle of poverty a crisis
Pandemic-related depression, the death of an infant son, job loss, and family feuds have rendered a couple homeless, forcing Anakay Thomas Peart and her husband, Parnel Peart, to pitch a tent along the shore of Bob Marley Beach in Nine Miles, Bull Bay, where they now live.
Also living inside the tent is their three-year-old daughter, Zemora Peart.
Anakay is also in her third trimester of pregnancy and is due to give birth on March 20.
They reportedly left her parents’ house in October 2021 because of a religious dispute. Anakay’s parents are said to be devout Rastafarians and the couple have chosen to become Christians and now attend church services.
“The condition is stressing. It is stressing for me,” she said in a Gleaner interview.
“We are we own big woman and big man. On Sunday, like dem nuh want we fi go no church … ‘Why you going church? Who is this? Who is that? Bout unnu a serve this and that’,” said the 32-year-old woman, who will be giving birth for a fifth time.
“Dem praise Selassie, but a Jesus we praise!” she added, referencing the late former emperor of Ethiopia.
Anakay’s eldest son, who is now 18 years of age, remained with her parent, and her second child lives with his paternal grandmother.
Anakay, who dropped out of high school when she got pregnant in grade nine at Yallahs High School, said accommodation with her parents had also become difficult when her sister returned to the family home.
The crisis facing the Pearts lays bare the starkness of Jamaican poverty even with data showing that the economy has rebounded from the coronavirus outbreak that gutted more than 130,000 jobs at the heights of the pandemic’s displacement.
Jamaica’s unemployment rate fell to 7.2 per cent according to October 2021 data by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica. Youth unemployment declined by 9.3 percentage points to 18.9 per cent relative to October 2020. And there was a larger decline in female youth unemployment down 12.3 percentage points to 21.6 per cent. Male youth unemployment stood at 16.6 per cent, a decline of 7.2 percentage points.
But the gravity of poverty affecting the Pearts, in their beach tent with the trappings of tarpaulin, tells a different story for many Jamaicans.
Anakay said that when she met her husband in 2015, she went to live with him at a home shared with his family in Trelawny.
However, after their infant son died in June 2020, things started going downhill for them. They moved in with her parents in St Thomas two months later.
Parnel’s hopes of landing a job in Kingston during the pandemic have faded, revealing that he has only managed to get temporary work and has complained of being underpaid by employers.
He longs to return to his home in Trelawny, but he still wrestles with the haunting memory of the death of his infant son, who was born on April 5, 2020.
“When mi really look back on di picture, mi say mi baby dead inna di house and thing, and that’s a memory. ... Mi stress, mi frustrated, mi torment. Mi can’t function,” he said.
Parnel, who said he is a baptised Christian but still wears dreadlocks, disclosed that he is a mechanic and auto body repairman. His last steady job, he said, was repairing Toyota Voxy buses in Trelawny.
But with his back against a wall, he is willing to take on just about any job.
“Even if I get yard fi chop, I will chop it. It’s not all about the trade work right now… . Right now, we inna some situation where sometimes rain wet we up,” he said.
Anakay, who used to work at a stall owned by her brother near the Harbour View roundabout, is eager for them to start a business at Bob Marley Beach.
They have already tried to cobble together a start-up, but that sputtered as many of the coconuts spoilt.
Her main concern now is putting in place necessities for her newborn.
“We nuh have no pram. We nuh have nothing. We nuh even have a proper bed to lie down on,” she said.
Persons interested in assisting the couple may call them at (876)805-6874.