Payter-Ann Morgan: Overwhelmed but striving
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
With a daughter who is in her first year at the University of Technology pursuing law and two other children attending Clarendon College, vendor Payter-Ann Morgan does not have time to indulge in self-pity.
When the Gleaner news team arrived at her 'standing spot' in the vicinity of Young's Plaza, May Pen, she takes out a few of her merchandise for us to photograph, while keeping an eye out for any sign of police approaching.
"I have to look out for the police, 'cause we can't be too relaxed selling here, they come and seize your goods and it's costly to retrieve them," she shared with The Gleaner.
At the obvious question about why she has not found a safe spot to ply her wares, she grimaced.
"Where? In the market? In spite of the mayor saying they have spots there, there is none. Besides, in there is not convenient for what I do. I am not selling food," she said.
It is a hard-knock life for the mother of four, who said her expenses are more than what she makes from vending.
It wasn't always this way for the 42-year-old past student of Clarendon College, who lives in Bucknor. A former sales clerk at NestlÈ Jamaica, she had to find creative means of keeping her children in school when she lost her job in 2008.
'FULL OF FAITH'
"Instead of sitting down, I started juggling. I have had a lot of challenges, but I am full of faith," she said.
But there are still days when she is overwhelmed by what life throws at her, and she gives in to the tears.
According to Morgan, the stock she has now is yet to be paid for as she took the goods on credit.
"Right now, I owe over $130,000 and sales are very slow," she said, visibly making an effort not to give in to despair.
Still, she is thanking God for His mercies, noting that a few months ago, she went bankrupt and a bailiff attempted to seize her goods, and she turned to Member of Parliament Mike Henry for help. He assisted her, but that's just a drop in the bucket.
Morgan said on a daily basis, ensuring her two children attend high school costs $2,000. In addition, she has to come up with her daughter's boarding fee and fares to ensure a taxi takes and and picks up her youngest daughter from school.
"I am overwhelmed. I am not looking for a handout. I don't believe in begging. I just need a break in being able to sell my wares and having the debt removed from over my head," she said.
Morgan is separated from her husband and says he is no longer working and cannot give much. She said she would love the powers that be set up a proper vending area for people like her so they can stop being targets for the police.
"When they seize your goods, you have to pay up to $10,000 for its return. Sometimes I have to take a loan, or bawl, plead or see if I can get someone to intercede that I can get them back," she said.
One of Morgan's reasons for staying the course - her 19-year-old law-student daughter, Kadejah Jarrett - came by while we spoke with her and expressed great pride in her mother.
"She is very hard-working, motivating, ambitious and she goes the extra mile to take care of her children," she said, adding that she cannot wait to finish school so that she can help her mother, her siblings and "also to give back to society".