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Panhandlers of New Providence

Though it stares most who would care to pay attention in the face every day, the problem of homelessness and vagrancy on New Providence goes mostly ignored by the public.

Those who stand on corners near traffic lights with a hand outstretched have become familiar fixtures to those who make their daily commute.

Some give what they can, while others look the other way or roll up their car window. But very few consider how the panhandlers got there.

Adrianna, otherwise known, according to her, as “the nag and beg lady”, usually stands near a street light on Nassau Street. She said she’s not sure of her age.

According to Adrianna, she has about six or seven children and formerly worked as a landscaper at the Ministry of Health.

She said on a daily basis she collects around $50 but struggles to keep it as she believes pickpockets frequent the area.

Adrianna said she’s been homeless for almost 10 years and her children only come around to help sometimes.

“I think as often as they could,” she said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.

“It can’t be my business right now to even say how it is.”

Asked how old they are, she seemed unsure.

“About 30, I think,” she said.

“[The youngest] he say he nine, so I’m going to stick with that.”

Adrianna said she has been to a rehabilitation facility in the past, but said it reminded her of a prison. She also admitted that she has used cocaine in the past.

“I liked rehab. I love the people there right, but it’s boring,” she said.

“…Going to rehab, it feels like jail [or] prison.

“I understand because it’s more [about] safety but I still think it’s more like prison.”

She said she feels that way because they weren’t allowed enough time outside.

Asked how she ended up in her predicament, she broke into tears.

“Maybe next time,” she said.

She said after she left the Ministry of Health, her memory went blank.

Adrianna said if she could have a second chance, she would like to own a field with a fruit and vegetable garden.

Following the interview, one of the proprietors of a nearby liquor store approached The Guardian and said he and Adrianna grew up together.

He said back in the day she was a part of their crew that did cocaine. According to him, she was the one who never got off of it.

But there are those who find themselves begging on the street who have never had a drug problem.

Berkley Sands, 56, a former fisherman, said he had a stroke back in 2011 and has been struggling ever since.

He said he lives in South Andros but found himself stuck and homeless in New Providence for the past nine months after coming for physical therapy. Sands said he has a son who lives in New Providence, however, his son isn’t in a financial position to help him out.

“You know, sometimes things happen in life and you wonder why or how. I guess that’s where I’m at right now,” he said.

He said he contemplated getting back into fishing, but with the left side of his body handicapped, it’s been difficult.

“Day to day, life, I can say it’s hard, you know,” he said.

“You know like when you’re not used to something.”

Sands said he only eats when someone reaches out to him and he sleeps near the Clarence A. Bain Building.

Right now, he said he’s trying to get back to Andros.

“I was trying to plan a trip for June 7,” he said.

“We’re having a homecoming… I’m trying to go back at that time.”

He said he doesn’t have the funds to get back but hopes to have the money before then.

Billy Robinson, 44, said he’s been homeless for about 10 years. He said his life began taking a turn for the worst at age 25, but said he takes full responsibility for his situation.

Robinson said he struggles with alcoholism and found himself homeless because he didn’t have a vision for his life.

“…From school, you’re supposed to set goals or have ambition and have goals,” he said.

“I had jobs but I ain’t had goals… I could only blame myself.”

He said his family gave him multiple chances but he continued to make mistakes.

“I got homeless from being short-tempered towards my family,” he said. “The old lady, she gave me a room in the back of the house and I was like, ‘I don’t need no room in the back of the house’ so I pack up and moved.

“Because of the drinking, I was driving taxi at the time; getting drunk, I lose the taxi and the efficiency.

“If I was conscious, I could have still been rotating but because of the drinking and everything, that made me homeless. But you still had the friends and the longer you hang with them they wouldn’t respect you either because they have a home they could go to in the end.”

Robinson said he has previously tried to get help but to no avail.

“Sometimes, when you go looking for help… if it’s a program of 30 or 20, maybe one will survive because the rest will go out probably doing the same thing,” he said.

According to Robinson, people fail rehabilitation programs because of stubbornness and ignorance. He knows because he said he has failed numerous programs.

“I just probably addicted,” Robinson said. “Eight months I was with a program. I had money in my pocket. I had access to stuff I wanted and what I didn’t. But one or two glitches you have to get rid of.

“Normally, you’re on the right track. Next thing you know you see [the] wrong friend or you end up in the same neighborhood or something like that. You could blame things but you [have] to be strong in your mind.

“… You have a lot of people who drink, they’re strong in their mind, they still work and they still have money.

“You have to be strong in your mind.”

Robinson said at the onset of being homeless, he continued to work performing side jobs that made him up to $400 per day. However, he said he continuously blew his money on alcohol.

He said if he could, he would change everything.

“If I was determined and wiser at that time, because I was probably taking everything for a joke or taking everything for granted and sometimes you do things where people never respect you in life no more,” he said.

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Laurent started at The Nassau Guardian in May 2018 as a paginator. He transitioned to reporting in February 2019. Laurent has covered multiple crime stories. He is the author of “Yello”, which was published in February 2019.
Education: Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) 3rd Year
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