Sunday, May 19, 2013


So this post will be a bit wordier and less picture-y than the others, I'm having a bit of camera trouble at the moment so I haven't been able to take as many pictures as I would like. This has proven extremely disappointing, as you will find out.

The week has thus far been pretty intense at the shelter, we've had some serious problems with a few of the clients and we're still trying to sort some of them out. The first issue was with one of the clients we have who is unfortunately addicted to crack cocaine, and had actually ended up being suspended from the shelter because he had been staying out past 11 (on weekdays the gates to the shelter are locked between 11pm and 11am, any clients who stay out past those hours have to stay out of the shelter for the night), smoking crack and then climbing the fence back into the shelter in the wee hours of the morning. He came back to the shelter on Thursday, before his suspension had run its course, with a prescription from a doctor and claiming that he'd been really sick and that's why he'd been staying out so late.

It was absolutely heartbreaking to see the change in him after just four or five days, he'd lost so much weight and his lips were all burned and scabbed from the pipes he'd been using. Unfortunately all we could offer him was lunch and a shower, and we told him to come back on Saturday when his suspension had finished to talk about his future at the shelter. We actually met him again that night downtown and he asked us for money to buy food in the morning, although we got him a cup of tea and a sweet bun and told him to meet the girls in the same spot in the morning at 9am (they were going to be in town to meet a pastor) instead and we could get him some food then. The girls went back in the morning but he wasn't there.

He was readmitted back into the shelter on Saturday, although his future is pretty uncertain. Lloyda has informed us that he's got one more chance, and if he starts acting up again he'll be let go permanently. It might sound harsh and to some extents I really really feel for him, he's a great guy and I'd always had some really positive interactions for him, but the shelter has rules and (extremely) limited funding, and can't afford to keep on clients who aren't willing to take part in the program.

There's been a similar problem with one of the girls, who is both deaf and mute. She has been causing a lot of trouble in the shelter, stealing people's things and staying out all night before climbing over the fence in the morning. The biggest concern we have about her is that she has a very real risk of being assaulted/raped, which we think may have happened previously, or that she may be prostituting herself on the streets. We do our best to promote safe-sex at the shelter and make condoms and other forms of birth control available, but a lot of the time the clients won't ask, or if you offer it to them they will get really embarrassed and refuse. Obviously the shelter doesn't have anything like the kind of facilities that would be required to look after a baby and it goes without saying that she's at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

The problem here is the position we're placed in by her behaviour. As someone who is both deaf and mute, and illiterate (thus making learning sign language extremely difficult), the shelter is really the only place for her to stay safely. The idea of suspending or discharging her is one that we really can't approach lightly/even think about approaching. However she doesn't care at all about the rules and will just laugh at you when you tell her that she's approaching a suspension. If we keep tolerating her poor behaviour however, it upsets the other clients because they see it as being two sets of rules or favouritism. Suffice to say it's a problem that's not going to go away easily and we're just going to have to work at it.

This all sounds a bit doom and gloom-y and probably makes out like I'm having a worse week than I am. Actually I've had some pretty cool experiences this week, especially on Friday night. Our plan was to go and eat at a restaurant that I'd been hanging out to go to since I got here, a place called Dickie's Best Kept Secret. Before that though we went to meet our friend Mario, who is the bosun on a massive luxury yacht that's been harboured in Port Antonio for the past few weeks. We were lucky enough to get a tour of the yacht and all I can say is WOW

Even the galley on the yacht was the kind of kitchen most people would die to have in their house, the yacht had massive, wood panelled living areas, flat screen TV's up the wazoo, and a sauna!!!! I tried to take some photos and I would put them up, but unfortunately due the aforementioned camera issues I can't. It was a weird feeling being on this yacht, secure in the knowledge that this was something that I will never, ever, be able to afford or own haha

After that we heading to the restaurant for dinner. Dickie's is a really, really unassuming building (shack even), perched on the side of a cliff. When you go in, you climb down some stairs and realise that the whole thing is actually really big and built down the side of the cliff. Admittedly the room we ate in was in a slight downward slant, but it was still an amazing experience. The food was really good, just simple, home-cooked stuff but with some great flavours. We had fruits, shrimp, lobster, kingfish, rice, vegetables, omelettes, coffee and cake (a five course meal in all), and the price was really reasonable. In fact we had such an awesome time that before we realised it it was 11pm and we all had to go home because of work the next day!

So that's all for today, hopefully I'll be able to get my camera problems sorted and put some more photos up in the next few days, until then I'll leave you with this, a tune that has been soundtracking my morning thus far:

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