A Shocking Story: Family Living in ‘Tarpaulin House’ in Jamaica

Aug 14, 2015
1 min read

Fifty-two-year-old Fortella Pickersgill, her two grown daughters and her grandchild have become known as the family that lives under a tarpaulin, after pictures and videos of their living conditions surfaced on social media last Sunday.

By now, you, our readers should know my passion for homeless people and underprivileged people. So, you know that I could not let this one go. In 2015 a family, comprising of a mother, her daughters, Fallon Watson, 27, and 22-year-old Jessica Watson and a one year old child living in such conditions? I just cannot wrap my head around this one.


Fortella explained how they came to be homeless: “I used to live with my sis, but then a family feud get out of control. After that, she (the sister) get angry and say she wanted me out. How could she put us out with a baby? I believed in this sister so much, and I trusted her. It was shocking for me at first.”  They then went on to live with a neighbor who also evicted them. “They said some family members coming from foreign. So they said, sorry’, but you guys got to go, so that’s when my daughter bought the tarpaulin, and we didn’t have any other alternative, so I say, well, I’m gonna tough it out and rough it out like a soldier,” Fortella said.

Imagine you’re the one living like this and mind you, not alone. Your children are living like this as well and your grandchild, a one year old! The stress level. The shame of it all. I cannot imagine this being easy for anyone.

Fortella said: “In the days when the sun get really hot, we can’t stay underneath the tarpaulin because the baby sometimes want to sleep. We have to go by neighbors or go by the shop to get some shade and the nights we have to go under early because of the mosquitoes”. 

Only one member of the household actually works, that’s the eldest daughter. She works alternate weeks at a local bar and the little income she gets can hardly provide meals. Since the family’s story surfaced on social media on Sunday, they have received many promises but little help. Still, they appreciate any help they can get.

“Little is much when God is in it. I don’t give you anything to put down so whatsoever you give, even $10, I’m going to be grateful and thankful,” said Fortella.

My heart goes out to that family and the baby caught in the middle of it all. She did not ask to be brought into a situation like this and yet here she is. Are there any good Samaritans willing to assist this family, a room, a better place to lay their heads? Are we our brother’s keeper? I pray that this family gets immediate assistance.

Anyone interested in offering assistance to the family can contact them at 831-1028.

Keysha Pierre

I am a wife and mother of 3 beautiful boys. I have a passion for knowledge and writing. I am an avid reader of all book genres and I am a proud St.Lucian.

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