When THE STAR team stepped out of the vehicle in Daytona, St Catherine, they were attacked by an army of mosquitoes. This is the daily reality that Nigerian born Godwin Izevbekhai has to endure. The 60-year-old has been living in deplorable conditions, moving from gully to gully over the years. His plight only recently came to light after appearing on Youtuber Rabble Dabble’s channel.
As he changes his clothes in a dilapidated van nearby, he told our team that he has been homeless since 2006 and has been living in a chicken coop on the Daytona gully for the last four years.
This is the third gully I have lived over the past 13 years and because of that people call me the ‘gully supervisor’. I really have no choice. I have lived in the gully at Cumberland, followed by Westchester to here. I survive because I sell chemicals like bleach and detergent and so on. I also grow callaloo and so on but the sales aren’t fast.”
The tears flowed freely as he recounted how he lost everything after his 14-year-relationship went sour and his woman kicked him out of their home in Portmore. “I was fascinated by Bob Marley and the culture so I decided to visit and I eventually fell in love with the country. I stayed in a hotel for a while until I met a few friends who introduced me to a woman. She and I built a home together and lived for years, but things did not work out,” he said.
The sting of mosquitoes make it impossible to stand still inside Izevbekhia dark hut. An old tarpaulin is used as a roof and pieces of clothing and rotten boards are used to stuff crevices. He stated that the mosquitoes have driven him out of the house at nights and as a result has been sleeping in his broken-down van for some time.
“When the rain fall it is crazy and everywhere flood out. I do not have electricity or running water and I can’t sleep in here at nights because these mosquitoes will eat you alive. Just recently, I was sick for about three weeks and I just had to lay down and bear it because I cant do any better,” he said.
He told THE STAR that he has not reached out to any of his family members in Nigeria , stating that a lot of persons only learned of his situation after the YouTube video went viral.
While our team interviewed Izevbekhai, another Nigerian, Ermonselle Alchidenor, arrived at the location in hopes of offering assistance.
As Alchidenor listened to Izevbekhai’s plight, he was overcome with emotion and stated that the Nigerian community in Jamaica is highly concerned about his living conditions.
“He cannot live in this condition and even if decides not to go back to Nigeria, we will be offering him some assistance. We did not know about him until we saw the YouTube video. We are trying to get in contact with the Nigerian Embassy here and the Consular. We are both from the same state in Nigeria, so it is painful to see him living in such inhumane condition,” he said.
When asked if he desires to return to Nigeria to start his life over, Izevbekhai said: “I will always be a Nigerian although I have Jamaican citizenship but I am not going to fit in Nigeria now because I left almost 30 years ago. I am sure a lot has changed there. I have a little business here with my chemical thing, I really just need somewhere to live”.