Sun | Jul 25, 2021

Letter of the Day | Can we build public showers for the homeless?

Published:Monday | July 19, 2021 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

I was commuting the other day between Westmoreland and Manchester, and I couldn’t wait to get home and take a shower. It was a very humid day, and travelling on a minibus that was packed didn’t make things any better. But, home is not a reality for some among us, the only home they know is the street; the only bed they know are cardboards; and the only clothes they have are the dirty, torn ones that have become a kind of second skin. For some, taking a shower is a luxury, and one not often afforded.

At the time of my commute, I was not thinking of my brothers and sisters who could not, like myself, wait to get home and take a shower. We need to consider the plight of the homeless.

I am calling on all those who are able to understand this need to unite their voices with mine. Building public showers does not have to be a difficult or expensive venture. Neither does it have to be the sole responsibility of the Government.

We are in a pandemic that requires cleanliness, yet some of the most vulnerable among us have been forgotten. It is not only food that the homeless need, not only shelter, and not only clothing. Many have lost something greater than any of these things; a sense of human dignity. As a society, we can do more to restore a sense of human dignity to those who have been robbed of it, either by choice or circumstance. Circumstance is no respecter of persons, and none of us are above its grasp.

USE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY MATERIALS

I am encouraging local governing bodies to identify spaces where this project, the building of public showers, can become a reality. They can be attached to public restrooms, using cheaper and more environmentally friendly materials such as bamboo. Bamboo, if treated properly, can last for decades; and if designed properly, can give a look of luxury that blocks and concrete are hard to rival.

These bathrooms can be maintained in a similar way that public restrooms are maintained, and local businesses, organisations or interested persons can come on board to donate toiletries. Tanks or water catchment systems can be donated or erected to help provide alternate sources of water, if water from the National Water Commission will be an issue or an expense that cannot be footed.

Jamaica is filled with brilliant minds; we can always find the solutions to the problems if we are willing. But let us also be a people of compassionate hearts.

Let us remember the words of Jesus: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

SYNOKIA HIBBERT

Final-year Communication

Studies Student

Northern Caribbean

University