Family fears home might collapse
Shanice Lewis is hoping that she and her family will be spending Christmas in a new home. The family of six, which includes four small children, is living in extreme poverty in a remote section of Farm in Clarendon. All it would take is some strong wind or heavy downpour for the family to lose their home that is made out of old zinc and boards.
"I would want to really move from here so mi family can live better. Things really bad here suh," Lewis said during a telephone interview yesterday.
Lewis said that she is originally from Trelawny but relocated to Clarendon after the passing of her mother and grandmother. She settled with her partner and children in the broken down shack. These days their main source of income comes from burning and selling charcoal.
Deloris Campbell, principal of the Effortville Basic School, said that she was moved to tears when she saw the living condition of the family and instantly knew she had to assist.
"When their mother came to school to register them, we instantly knew that they were in need of help. They didn't have the basic requirements for school, such as uniforms and so on. We knew they couldn't afford the fees, so we welcomed them and sort of 'adopt' them as our own. We used to prepare breakfast for them, provide clothing, and we would bathe and comb their hair in the mornings," she said.
She described the kids as extremely quiet, which, she said, affected their learning ability drastically.
"They came to school very irregular, and their mother would sometimes say they are sick. When I went to the house, the lady's mother-in-law was there, and I came home crying," she said.
"The children's learning process was very slow because they don't talk. Break and lunch times, they are by themselves. They had no friends. When we give them work to do, they would just sit and look. Not a lot of persons knew what their voices sound like. They are at primary schools now, so I am not sure how they are."
Also taken aback by the family's situation was Otis James of James and Friends Education Programme. He told THE STAR that this is the most inhumane living conditions he has seen throughout his 14 years of assisting broken families.
"Them live really far in the bushes. The father burn coal, but he is sick now. From I have been helping people, this is the worst condition I have ever encountered. No one should have to live like this at all. I can't even call it a one room, but all I know it's dirt floor, the beds are padded. Rain, breeze and everything come in on them," he said.
Next week, James said that the foundation will begin construction on a concrete house which they are hoping will be ready for Christmas.
"We are hoping that other persons will chip in and assist with other stuff like bed, stove, fridge and so on. Please Jamaica, let us help this family, especially the children," he said.