Desperate mom!

Pregnant mother of three vows to kill herself if children are taken from her

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 14, 2017

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A 26-year-old mother of three, who is expecting her fourth child, is threatening suicide if the Child Development Agency (CDA) removes her children from their one-bedroom dwelling in New Building, St Elizabeth.The woman, Teresa Kelly, said that the CDA visited her home on Thursday and informed her that the conditions there were not suitable for the children. This is months after reports were allegedly made to the agency by a United States-based social worker and educator Anna B.

Anna B (who asked that her surname not be used in this article) contacted the Jamaica Observer last Wednesday asking for help which, she said, was not forthcoming from residents of the community, the police in Santa Cruz, and the CDA.

“This correspondence is being sent as a desperate plea for assistance. There are three children currently living under the most horrendous conditions. I became aware of the circumstances during a visit home this past February. Prior to my trip, I had heard about the children but never met them and was horrified once I actually saw them.

“The mother of these children beats them, refuses them food, and denies them medical treatment. The father of the two oldest is transient and frequently away from the community.

“When I returned to the States in March of this year, I called the St Elizabeth CDA office and filed a complaint. I gave them the location and names of the children as well as a telephone number for someone in Jamaica that they could contact if they required additional information.

“It wasn't until I was sent pictures of one of the children on Thursday, May 4, 2017, that I realised nothing had been done to address the needs of the children or to investigate the allegations. My family was informed that Alicia, the eldest, hadn't been in school for some time, at which point they went to check on her well-being. It was at that time that they discovered the tremendous suffering this child has been enduring. She is gaunt and has a severe infection on her scalp. Flies are following her and the smell of rotting flesh is pervasive. Her mother claims that she sought medical attention, but apparently, whatever attempts she made were not sufficient because the condition is worsening,” Anna wrote in an e-mail to the Sunday Observer.

Kelly has, however, denied this and is insisting that Anna, who grew up in the community before emigrating to the US, is seeking to become a mother and wants her children.

“One white woman a foreign and her man want dem. But mi cyah gi weh mi pickney dem; I don't know dem. When mi gi weh mi pickney dem how it go? Mi nuh know dem background. Up to my mother want mi pickney dem and mi naah give her. So a dem a send CDA fi come tek mi pickney dem,” an irate Kelly said.

She added that she is a hard-working mother who does “everything” to provide for her children, informing the Sunday Observer that she burns coal which she sells to people in the community to earn a living.

“A me take care of dem. The father wasn't giving mi anything for them until mi tek him to court,” she said. Kelly mentioned that the three children are fathered by the same man. She also acknowledged that they are still a couple.

She stated that the third child was not planned for, suggesting that she was using birth control in the form of the injection but still got pregnant.

Alicia, who is six years old, suffers from a fungal infection that has affected her scalp and has resulted in her losing her hair. Equally, checks made by the Sunday Observer at her school revealed that she was frequently absent and was among students who learn at a slower pace than her other classmates.

The Sunday Observer reviewed documents which showed that the child was present approximately 72 times in the last school term and absent approximately 66 times. She also placed 31 out of 35 students in her class. This is contrary to what was told to the Sunday Observer by her mother who insisted that she was “doing well in school” and was “very bright”. The Sunday Observer was also told by teachers there, that the mother had not responded to messages sent requesting a meeting with her.

“Now, the CDA say dem can take dem away from mi, but mi naah give up mi pickney dem. If she (Alicia) was with me she wouldn't catch the fungus. Mi tek care of dem; mi put dem on PATH (Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education) programme.

“Now di man come (Anna's husband) seh him waah take dem send dem overseas. Mi cyah give him dem; mi don't know him and she. Is one time mi meet her. Mi love mi children.

“Right now mi feel to say anyhow dem take dem mi woulda hurt miself. Mi cyah gi' dem weh; God know. Mi try too hard wid dem. Anyhow dem take dem weh mi a go tek fi mi life. Mi naah hide mi conscience; by dem tek dem di next half hour mi kill miself,” she said, tears now streaming down her cheeks.

The Sunday Observer, was, however, reliably informed that Alicia had not been living with her mother for some time. The child was sent to live with her father because she allegedly used indecent language to her mother. It was during this time, it is being said, that Anna's interest piqued with regards to the child's well-being. The woman has paid over sums of money to the school towards lunch and transportation for the child. Money was also given by Anna to Kelly for the well-being of the other two children aged four and one year old. The four-year-old was in school when the Sunday Observer made checks.

“Wanting to take her children had absolutely nothing to do with why I filed a complaint,” Anna said in response to the mother's claim. “The fungus in Alicia's head is why I filed. …When you tell that child 'I don't want you' and you run that child to her father, that is psychological abuse, knowing full well that he can't care for her.”

Anna, noting that the children's father had asked her to take them, said: “My three children are grown with my youngest child about to graduate college. I do not need to try to take away anybody's children. This is more of my conscience can't let me sit at home in America, comfortable, knowing that there are children in the very community that I come from in Jamaica suffering.

“I'm an intensive care coordinator; I do social work and educational resources here in America. I don't want any extra headache but there is no way my conscience could allow me to let those children suffer,” she said, adding that the parents told two sets of witnesses on separate occasions that they could not manage the children.

“All the while there's another one we haven't talked about — the baby,” Anna continued. “She's running around the farm naked all day with a bunch of grown men on the premises. We are talking about a baby with her private parts exposed to men. That's not a healthy environment for that little girl. …I know that on the day of judgement I will be asked about it because I witnessed it and when you witness it you become responsible for it.”

Anna also chided “educators” whom she said were “remiss” in their duties to report all instances of suspected abuse.

“Had they done their jobs there would be no need for my intervention,” she said.

The Sunday Observer visited the CDA office in Santa Cruz but was told that the agency could not verify if a report about the children was made.

“You will have to contact the PR (public relations) [department] in Kingston,” a woman at the office said.

Public Relations Manager at the agency Rochelle Dixon said the matter was being looked into to ascertain whether or not a report was in fact made about the children to the CDA. She said that a statement would follow.

In the meantime, Kelly said that Food For the Poor (FFP) has agreed to provide a house for her and her children, providing she has land. There is currently no bathroom at the house, forcing them to relieve themselves outside. The woman said so far she has not been able to acquire any land and is seeking the public's assistance.

Project Development Officer at FFP Ann-Marie Virgo, when contacted on Friday, said she would check to see if an agreement was in fact made with Kelly and respond.

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