In a move that would cost her heavily in terms of anxiety, fear and loss of income, long-time Crab Circle vendor, 48-year-old Nadine Francis, in October took on the grossly unpopular role of being a whistleblower locally.
While continuing to be comfortable with the merits of her action, she has indicated that some elements of the overall outcome of the move have left her both stressed and depressed.
Francis, for example, has not yet returned to the celebrated Kingston street eatery since a video that she recorded of a fellow female vendor doing the unthinkable inside a food stall at the facility, was posted on social media.
With the foul contents of the video quickly going viral, both its target and creator soon came in for heavy criticism – for obviously different reasons.
While the woman in focus in the video has been chastised for her gross indiscretion, Francis, too, has been criticised by some persons for having recorded the activity, which led to its publication and the eventual closure of the facility and hardships generally for all who were operating from the popular spot.
In fact, just after the development hit the proverbial fan, Francis reported receiving death threats for having caused the closure of Crab Circle heading into the end-of-year holiday season, especially because there was then no indication of when the facility would be reopened for business.
Fast-forward just over two months now and Crab Circle has been back in business since November 23, but minus both Nadine Francis and Alice Waugh, the latter being the woman whose indiscretion, once revealed, prompted the sudden and extended closure of the facility.
Both Waugh and Francis have not yet gone through the necessary training and other procedural steps to become eligible to return to vend at the facility.
But while Waugh was not invited to participate in the training and other related activities, and has seemingly been banned from the facility for at least some time, Francis, from her public statements since then, has been absent due to her personal security concerns and some logistical challenges relating to the timetable for the training.
In a media statement in early December, she said the threats that were directed at her had kept her grounded at home while she contemplated her next more.
“Bwoy it rough. Dem (vendors at Crab Circle) nuh talk to mi said way, and dem still ah talk story back way. Dem still a bun mi out said way. Ah the Grace of God ah guh keep me safe out deh when mi guh back on the road to sell,” said Francis in an interview.
She cited that her normal activities in doing business at Crab Circle involve regularly going into like the heart of downtown Kingston, where she is well-known and will be exposed to anyone who might have issues with her.
“Mi still feel a way, like fi guh up deh. But, yuh know, mi nuh duh nothing wrong,” said Francis in another interview.
The mother of three pointed to having recently lost her father, and being unable to contribute to his funeral expenses, plus her general financial challenges at home without any income, among her burdens since the closure of Crab Circle.
Her return will involve completing the training and other steps that the vendors now in business there did before being allowed to back in operation at the eatery, and Francis is hoping that it will be incident-free for her at the location.
Of note is that her move resulted in significant upgrading of the sanitary arrangements at the facility. Now there are bathrooms at the location, along with washbasins at each stall, instead of basins that were shared among a number of vendors.
Additionally, and very importantly, the move by Francis has fostered a widespread focus on street vending island-wide, especially across the Corporate Area, with such vendors now being reportedly streamlined into the same sort of training that was given to the Crab Circle sellers.
In view of the guts, conviction to principle, and the selfless, steely determination it took for Francis to have done what she did and then owning up to it when the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan, plus the financial stress the move has caused her personally, Loop News has opted to name Nadine Francis as the Loop Jamaica Personality of the Year for 2023.
Public health, including street vending conditions, have certainly come into much greater focus as a result of her action, and with the local authorities now seized of some of the unpleasant realities and implications out there, it should be recognised that Francis did a good deed in bringing the problem to the national stage, even if in one of the most unpleasant forms.
Well done amid it all, Nadine Francis, the Loop Jamaica 2023 Personality of the Year.