Mum: Help me!
By Maria Bradshaw | Fri, July 13, 2012 - 11:11 AM
It took a lot of courage for Kennera Charlemange to finally admit that she and her family are desperately in need of help.
The 26-year-old woman, who days ago gave birth to her fifth child, has been living in a small dilapidated wooden house at Airy Hill, St Joseph, which has become uninhabitable.
The floorboards are so rotten that several of them have broken off, exposing the cellar beneath. Part of the house has collapsed, and Charlemange’s obvious fear is that it will not be able to withstand any bad weather.
The only luxury item in the three-bedroom house is a flat-screen television bought for the children’s entertainment.
Charlemange, who finally agreed to an interview after a concerned neighbour brought her situation to the attention of this newspaper, said her boyfriend, who is the father of her children, had over the years assured her that he would repair the house.
“Realistically, I know that he can’t do it. We have an estimate for material, which has come to $30 000. He works but that money is used to support us and pay the bills. There is no way on his salary that we will ever be able to afford to build a house,” she cried.
Her children are six, five, three, one and a baby who she delivered only last week.
And while her boyfriend was against her exposing their business to the public, the young woman said she could no longer hide away from the insurmountable problems which she and her family were facing.
“We have different standards and different needs. I know he can’t work everything by himself. I also know that I contributed to this situation because people are going to ask what am I doing with all these children, but that part is my responsibility and I am responsible for my actions,” she honestly admitted.
Charlemange’s story is indeed a sad one.
She explained that she was “adopted” by a Barbadian couple who brought her from St Lucia to live with them. She has never met her biological mother. Indeed, that situation is so painful that she refuses to talk about it.
As she got older, she said the relationship with her “parents” became strained when she became involved with someone they did not approve of.
Her present boyfriend, she said, rescued her when her parents would not allow her to return home.
“He found me in a bar one night and told me that was not the place for me, and he called his mother there and then and asked if I could stay here because I had nowhere to go”.
That kind gesture led to a relationship between the two and they have been together for eight years.
But Charlemange said plans by her boyfriend’s mother to repair the house fell through when she became gravely ill.
“A few years ago his mother and older brother, who also lived here, decided to repair the house, but his mother fell ill and the repairs were put on hold. Then his brother died last October and his mother passed away in January and the house has just deteriorated more and more.”
Charlemange said she turned to her “parents” for assistance but that was not forthcoming.
“I asked if I could move back in but that did not happen. My mum is going to be very upset with me for doing this because she has very high standards, but our relationship is not a mother and daughter one”.
“I would like to get on my feet and work and support my children and not have to lean so much on other people. I would like to get a place to live because this house and this land don’t belong to my boyfriend, and if he shut his eyes tomorrow somebody can come and pull this door and tell me that I have to leave.”
While she has never contacted any Government agency for assistance, Charlemange said only last month officials from the Ministry of Health visited the house and told her that it was not suitable for her and her children to be living in.
“They told me that they would forward my information to the relevant agency, but I have not heard anything since. I don’t like the idea of doing this, but I have to swallow my pride and ask for help for me and my children.”
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