KINGSTON, JAMAICA: The tumultuous journey for Tiffany Thomas to secure a starter home came to a joyous end courtesy of Salada Foods Jamaica in partnership with Food For The Poor Jamaica (FFTP) on Tuesday, August 4, 2020.
The 21-year-old paraplegic student has a resilient spirit that came to the fore at the 2019 launch of the FFTP 5K. The details of her living conditions shocked many in attendance.
“So my living conditions before today, I was always homeless. From I was 14 until when I was 17 that I actually got my first house to live in. It wasn’t a lot at the time but in the past few years it has been deteriorating,” the new homeowner, Tiffany Thomas said at the handover. “The situation got continually worse. Each time it rains it floods; the whole place would get wet, my books, my school bag, and my bed. I didn’t have a bathroom, the same place I eat that’s where I use my bathroom.”
“I had to just try my best to not think about it too much and just live life until one of my classmates offered to come to my house. I was too ashamed to let them come, but they insisted. They came and they didn’t like it at all. They went to my principal at Trench Town Polytechnic College — Dr. Dosseth Edwards-Watson — and they spoke to her. That’s how Food for the Poor came on board,” Thomas detailed.
Over a year later, her dreams of a safe place to lay her head were achieved through Salada Foods.
Tamii Brown, Commercial and Corporate Affairs Manager at Salada Foods recalled the day she heard about Thomas’ plight.
“We were at the Food for the Poor 5K launch in 2019 and as a partner with FFP Jamaica, we were immediately moved when Tiffany spoke of her circumstances. Her sunny personality didn’t fit her circumstances; it was just a beautiful sight to behold. Salada went to the launch with one intention, but we were immediately moved to activate our Salada mantra: ‘Rise Up and Support Jamaica’.”
The call to her general manager, Dianna Blake Bennett, was met with swift support.
“I was told about Tiffany and that she really needed some help and we have done it for this young lady who needs to be lifted up,” Blake Bennett said.
She shared that the opportunity to hand over the company’s gift gave her goose pimples. “It is important, and more so especially now, that as corporate citizens we look out for those of us that are vulnerable that really and truly need help.”
Salada Foods contributed US$3,800 for the home. The corporate entity also gifted Tiffany with kitchen appliances and products as well as a sustainable vegetable garden in partnership with Hardware and Lumber to improve her food security.
It took over one year to find approved land and it took less than 24 hours to build and semi-outfit her new home. Her house by great fortune is located in the same community, which has supported her for years and at the end of the same road where she resides.
Kivette Silvera, executive director of Food for the Poor said Tiffany’s situation showcases the need for land.
“Food For The Poor has always said there is a land issue when we have so many individuals who are in need, but then there is no land. When you think about it, somebody who is poor does not necessarily have the access to the property. In Tiffany’s situation, we were able to work with the councilors and the Ministry to ensure that they provided us with the necessary land documents so we were able to build this house.
Silvera continued: “This is very significant for us because many people would say I have applied to Food for the Poor for a house, but if they do not have the land, unfortunately, we can’t help them. So, this is very significant that we were able to get the house built for Tiffany through the sponsorship of Salada.”
The ecstatic, overwhelmed, and happy could hardly hold back tears as the keys to her dwelling were handed over.
“I finally have the opportunity to just not get wet and have a bathroom and have a shower. I’m happy for the people here that come to show that Jamaica is really a positive, fun-loving place. People out there are caring,” she said. “I want people to know that life goes on no matter how bad your living or family condition is, anything at all — life goes on. You just have to do what you have to do until better days come along.”