COVID-19 forces Savanna-la-Mar couple to change gear


COVID-19 forces Savanna-la-Mar couple to change gear

Observer West reporter

Thursday, May 07, 2020

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SAVANNA-LA-MAR, WESTMORELAND — When Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered the closure of schools on March 13 in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, Isha Campbell-Jones and Kevon Jones, both vendors, of Meyler's Avenue in this rural town, were left without an income.

The closure of schools did not only impact the education system, but also persons who earned a living when schools are in session, such as vendors.

But, while teachers and students transitioned to online education due to the closure of the educational institutions, the couple, whose main customers were students, have had to find ways to create a new revenue stream to support their family of five.

Kevon is widely known as an innovator in his own right.

He has tried his hand at several businesses over the years, from operating a mobile video game shop, to operating a cook shop at the various primary schools, to being a gardener.

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced him to once more build on his available resources, which has resulted in the creation of a mobile market, selling a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and ground provisions.

“We [usually] do like jerk, barbeque or fried chicken, we [also] do smoothies and sell toys to the students. We would circle the schools, but the main location was Unity [Primary],” Kevon shared with the Jamaica Observer West, explaining that for weeks since the closure of schools, he had been home without having much to do.

“Mi deh home one day and was like, mi not waiting on school to open enuh, mi ago haffi find something to do,” he shared.

He added that it was at that time the idea to sell fruits and vegetables in their minibus across several communities in Westmoreland, was hatched.

“My father is a farmer. His farm is in Beeston Spring [in Westmoreland], so I have access to farm produce,” he stated.

Kevon said the business, called Mr Season's Mobile Market, which has been in operation for less than two weeks, has been doing very well.

“People get excited especially when they see the pipe attached to the bus [which houses the market],” Isha shared.

“They bend down and look under the bus to see where the water is coming from,” Kevon added.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, sanitation is of utmost importance and as such having access to water plays a vital role in curtailing the spread of the virus.

Kevon explained that he came up with the idea of affixing a pipe to the vehicle when he went to an event one day and was unable to get water.

The water unit on the bus holds a 20- gallon tank which gravity feeds to the pipe. This innovation, he believes, has assisted them in gaining sales during the pandemic.

“After the first three days of operations we were almost out of goods,” Isha said, adding that “fruits get the highest demand”.

On Monday, during a digital press conference at Jamaica House, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Karl Samuda, announced that schools islandwide will not reopen physically until September 7.

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