Living like a hog
Font Hill, St Thomas man miraculously alive in the midst of harsh conditions
BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Sunday Observer staff reporter [email protected]
Sunday, June 01, 2014 1 comment
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Frazer demonstrates how he sleeps at night on his makeshift bed of sponge and wood. (PHOTO: BRYAN CUMMINGS)
AT age 85 Nathan Frazer is living a forgotten life, tucked away in a rat-infested, single-room wooden house in Font Hill, St Thomas.
Being old, weak, partially blind and unable to work for himself, he spends his days sitting at his doorway wondering where his next meal will come from and if it will rain.
Known in the community as “Captain”, Frazer tried to keep a positive outlook on life when the Sunday Observer called on him.
“I am not of the best and I am not of the worst,” he said, smiling, revealing teeth stained with age.
Despite his living conditions, the senior citizen is not pointing fingers at anyone. In fact, despite years of hard work, fate has just dealt him a terrible blow.
“All of my labour lock up in tax office,” Frazer said. “The main cause of my distress is that I work with Marley and Plant Construction firm (known for roads, bridges and hotel construction) for over 20 years, and on Caymanas Estate sugar belt in the sugar house and on the trucks dispatching sugar to Kingston Wharves,” he said.
“Well, hear the great problem in my life… my people dem did tell me that me name Euton Frazer when I was small, and I have been using Euton Frazer all the time and some time ago I went to the birth certificate office (Registrar General’s Department) and apply and they look out the whole place and the lady find Nathan Frazer. So that is where mi get the drop.”
He said that as a result, his national identification and all his other documents are under the name that he was using from childhood. He said that he went to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) office and was given only $3,000, since he had only a few pay slips in the name Nathan Frazer from work he did for a short period of time at McGregor and Levy Construction.
“But they say they cannot put me on the pension list because they say I didn’t work there enough time,” Frazer explained.
“So all of my labour lock up in tax office because the name Euton Frazer not on the system. Well, they telling me that if mi get such and such a paper and go to the tax office they can draw it up. But because my eyes get bad and all of that, I can’t run up and down like one time,” he said.
Frazer now lives in a one-room shack made of wood and rusting zinc, with a leaky roof. Whenever it rains, Frazer said, he tries to protect with bits of plastic his few belongings — a torn-up piece of sponge on a makeshift bed, a rusty and rotten table, broken chairs, some of which are stored on the bed, and worn plastic containers.
“My living condition bad,” Frazer admitted. “I don’t have nobody to help me. So mi need some help — whole heap of help.
“Look there now,” he said ,pointing to the bed. “Is the so-so board mi deh pon. It did have a good mattress but sometimes when I was not here … (I was at Caymanas Park for a long time) rats cut off the cover, eat it up, and it turn red.”
He pointed out that the room smells bad and is desperately in need of cleaning. However, his inability to see clearly prevents him from doing much.
Frazer has been living at his present location for over 20 years, surviving out of the kindness of a good Samaritan, who has afforded him living accommodation on his property free of cost.
He said that while he has four children living in Kingston and St Catherine, they have not been caring for him. He said he was married but he and his wife have been separated for over 40 years and he has not been in another long-term relationship since.
“Mi did have money in my pocket, but it run out now. But the lady who live in the yard here, she help me out with food more time,” he said.
His last job was years ago before his sight became poor. This was done by purchasing sponge at Elletson Road in Kingston and taking it to Caymanas Park where he sold it for use in saddles.
“But my system gone so mi can’t move round anymore,” Frazer said. “So mi need some help. Definitely. You see it too, because right now is so-so board mi deh pon.”
Frazer was born in the village of Font Hill but explained that he did not grow up there as he moved to Kingston as a child. However, he later returned to his original hometown 20 years ago to, according to him, live out the rest of his days.
“Captain need help,” one resident in the community said. “We want people to see that St Thomas people dem nuh really think ’bout people. I went down to the Poor Relief office in Morant Bay to make a complaint about him some weeks ago, but all now I don’t see what they doing to help him. But Captain need everything for his survival. Is a nice man, you know. Him need help to move out of this condition that him into.”
The woman said that when Frazer was up and about he was a kind man who was nice to people. As a result, from time to time she tries to give him from the very limited amount she has, but this is not enough to help him, she said.
“We not even talking ’bout member of parliament (James Robertson) because him don’t business with nobody and even if you try to call him you not getting him. But they need to help him…put him in a poorhouse so that him can at least get three meals a day. Him need to come out of this condition. Him children dem don’t business wid him, so it don’t make sense even mention them, and is a nice man when him did strong.
“The people dem who can help just talk and talk and they don’t business with nobody because they just feel is not their business. Him don’t need piece of food alone, him need everything. The condition nuh pretty for no human being, no human should live so! Look at the inside of the house!” she said.
Frazer said that someone visited him once from the Poor Relief Department and has promised to look into something for him but he has not seen her return.