Homeless hero who saved hapless cop remains destitute
Despite pledges of assistance for a homeless man who was awarded a Badge of Honour for Gallantry last Heroes Day after rescuing an injured cop who was left for dead in bushes of Portmore, St Catherine, he has found himself in a worse situation five months later.
Up to last month, he was still living in bushes in Portmore, St Catherine, near the spot he and Josiah Wright found the policeman nearly a year ago, but has lost all his possessions.
“I get burnt out – all of my things dem. I lose everything and so forth. A man in the bush burn out my things dem when it was my birthday month. From dem burn out my things, I don’t really stay in the bush anymore,” said Winston Thorpe, who has been living in the bushes of St Catherine for the last six years.
These days, he shelters between some pallets of wood he put together in the bushes, adjacent to a farm he oversees in Dunbeholden, St Catherine, and is pleading for assistance with acquiring land to construct a house promised to him by the Government.
In an interview at the farm, where cantaloupe, melon and onion crops are grown, Thorpe said that immediately after he was awarded on Heroes Day, October 17, and The Gleaner publicised his living conditions, Culture Minister Olivia Grange called him, promising to give him a house.
However, Thorpe said, he was told that he would have to provide the land. The Kingstonian added that neither he nor his relatives have any available plots in Kingston or St Catherine, the parishes he knows best to traverse and earn a living.
And as his second to last of eight children – a 17-year-old – is set to be released from state care after her birthday next month, he is hoping he will be able to house her until she is able to sustain herself.
The Gleaner has been unsuccessful in getting comments from Grange.
The jack-of-all-trades said he once lived at Wild Street in Kingston 13, but frequently went out of the parish for work. He eventually lost his residence to “others who had more use for it”.
“Everybody just capture a little abandoned building and put on top and live, but every time I go away to look work, maybe I don’t come back til all a week time due to the work I was doing in the bush by burning coal,” Thorpe explained.
“When I go home, I always find my little room with all my things dem taking out. I continue by putting a lock on it and don’t mind what they’re taking because my life is still here ... but I still need help to be a better man,” he said.
He is worried about his daughter who will soon be released from the State’s care and control.
“She was so stubborn, not hearing too much. The Government has been taking her from me since she was 10 years old and put her at Stony Hill. I go there [often] to look for her because I love her. April 15 is her birthday, so I need a comfortable place that when she comes, anytime now, I could make she stay there,” Thorpe said.
He said he has gone to the offices of political representatives in St Catherine, including the mayor of Portmore, seeking assistance to acquire a piece of land, but his efforts have not borne fruit so far.
Thorpe said that when the owner of the Dunbeholden farm where he is a handyman heard of the recent fire, she gave him permission to stay there. But he told The Gleaner that it is uncomfortable and not safe for him.
“Where I sleep, I use some pallets. I put it on the ground, but the frogs, mongoose and mosquito come in on me at nights and it’s not safe,” he said.
How to help
Those interested in assisting Winston Thorpe can reach out to him by calling 876-231-9668.