Americas

Jamaican Christmas cheer for homeless LGBT youths

Organizers of Christmas dinner for homeless Jamaican LGBT youth chat during the event. For the youths' safety, their photos are not shown.

Organizers of Christmas dinner for homeless Jamaican LGBT youth chat during the event. For the youths’ safety, their photos are not shown.

Christmas Day brought presents and a special dinner to homeless LGBT youths living in the sewers of New Kingston, Jamaica.

Forced out of everywhere else they have tried to live — their parents’ homes, then abandoned buildings, then an open-air gully — the youths now live  in the drainage tunnels of New Kingston, except when police raid and oust them from there.

Concerned citizens who are raising money to provide food, shelter and human services to the youths made an extra effort on their behalf in recognition of the  the holiday. In this lightly edited account, Yvonne McCalla-Sobers tells about the event:

Christmas dinner for homeless LGBT youths in New Kingston, Jamaica, included curried goat (shown here), rice, gungo peas and vegetable salad.

Christmas dinner for homeless LGBT youths in New Kingston, Jamaica, included curried goat (shown here), rice, gungo peas and vegetable salad.

“Nevin Powell and others made Christmas special for our homeless LGBT youth living in New Kingston’s sewers by cooking them Christmas dinner. He also brought them Christmas bags with goodies as well as pre-owned clothing and shoes.

“Yesterday [Christmas Eve] I called Fr. Sean Major-Campbell of Christchurch, Vineyard Town in downtown Kingston and mentioned by the way that the youth would be having Christmas Dinner today. He promised to come, and surprised me by arranging to spend at least two hours with the group. He said grace before lunch, and then spoke with the youth after lunch.

Yvonne McCalla-Sobers and the Rev. Sean Major-Campbell chat during the Christmas dinner for homeless LGBT youths.

Yvonne McCalla-Sobers and the Rev. Sean Major-Campbell chat during the Christmas dinner for homeless LGBT youths.

“He told them a story about a US$100 bill that still maintained its value as much when it was new as when it was crushed and trodden on. He asked the youth to remind themselves that they were like that hundred-dollar bill, with value despite their present condition. He kept the youths’ attention, and they responded well to what he said. He also told me that, at his Christmas Day service this morning, he told his congregation where he would be today.

“While we were in the gathering, the youths took the opportunity to thank Nevin for providing for them so they could feel reassured that there were people who cared for them. They also expressed their gratitude to me personally.

“The police circled the area, but there were no incidents. Traffic on Trafalgar Road was minimal, and the openness of the location seems to have worked favourably for us. I have heard passersby shout insults at the youth on many previous occasions. But presumably people were in their homes having dinner while we were in the park today.”

To contribute to the effort to establish Dwayne’s House, a permanent shelter for homeless LGBT youths:

Christmas gifts for the homeless youths included clothes and wrapped packages.

Christmas gifts for the homeless youths included clothes and bags of goodies.

11 thoughts on “Jamaican Christmas cheer for homeless LGBT youths

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