Bahamian Shantytown resident: “We all need somebody”

Bahamian Shantytown resident: “We all need somebody”
Firefighters battle a massive blaze in a shanty town village at Pink Meadow Road off Bellot Road on Februrary 5, 2023.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — After losing his home in the recent Carmichael shantytown fire, a blind Bahamian resident said that he agreed with the government’s initiative to demolish illegal communities.

David Mortimer, 68, told Eyewitness News that he had once lived in an affordable efficiency before relocating to Carmichael Road, but the land was sold.

He said was forced to move to the small shantytown due to financial issues, and had lived in the community for two years before it was reduced to ash.

“It was the cheapest place I could find,” he said.

Mortimer said that while living on the property, he paid $100 to a “Haitian lady”, whom he referred to as his landlord.

Although the blind resident was not aware of the visual layout of the community, he informed Eyewitness News that the living situation was not ideal.

He recalled having to share a roofless community bathroom where everyone showered and used the restroom.

“The living facilities like the bathroom, they lack of it. But while I was living there, I didn’t have a problem,” Mortimer said.

Additionally, the resident admitted that there was no electricity in the small community.

Mortimer reflected on the shanty town, adding that his Haitian neighbors were friendly to him and their children were sometimes responsible for carrying him to a local convenience store where he would make his living by asking for money.

He said: “Plenty of them use to help me. I mean the Haitians. Some of them used to help with things I needed since they had stores and stuff.”

A week after the fire, Social Services reported that only one resident had requested assistance. However, Mortimer said that because of his disability, he was unable to get to the ministry.

“No, I haven’t gotten anything because I have nobody to take me,” he said.

“Ms. Miller is a school teacher so she is unable to carry me.”

He said that he felt overlooked by the ministry since community members were willing to give his whereabouts to anyone who asked.

Recently, the government was granted permission to take action about the shantytown increase in the country by demolishing the structures in the areas.

Prime Minister Phillip Davis has warned Bahamians and Haitians living in the illegal communities to relocate although the government has yet to provide a timeline.

In response, Mortimer said: “If it has to be that way, so let it be. All you have to do is find someplace else and that’s what I did.”

Although he found shelter with a friend across the street, the man said that he has garnered assistance from a few family members and a school teacher.

For Mortimer, Miller has been the person to support him with his disability as she washes his clothes and checks on him throughout the week.

Additionally, Mortimer informed Eyewitness News that he is waiting on a prefabricated home from a family member in the United States.

The resident noted that while he has assistance, “we all need somebody”.