Editorial

The dilemma of having five sets of twins

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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There are Jamaicans in whose veins course the milk of human kindness and unconditional generosity, who are likely to respond to the desperate cry for help coming from Ms Kerry-Ann Anderson — a woman who has given birth to five sets of fraternal twins, plus two other children.

While making it clear that her hapless family is living in abject poverty in Denham Town, West Kingston and with little hope for a better life, without help, Ms Anderson is still proud of what she clearly regards as some sort of outstanding achievement.

Some Jamaicans and foreigners who read her story in the Sunday Observer, may be moved to offer assistance, choosing to celebrate with her the feat of having five sets of twins, four of them consecutively.

It seems almost cruel to deprive her of her misinformed joy in telling her that the greatest officially recorded number of children born to one mother is 69, to the wife of Feodor Vassilyev (1707–1782), a peasant from Shuya, Russia.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, in 27 confinements the woman gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets.

Ms Anderson is therefore quite some distance away from a world record and we do not know if she qualifies for a local record for the most twins born in Jamaica to the same mother.

What we do know though, is that having that many children in such deprivation and squalor is nothing to be romanticising about. Ms Anderson who is not working, her children and her brother live with her mother who is bearing the brunt of financing the family.

The children often don't go to school; the home is in poor condition; most of the fathers are absent and even the current father of the last set of twins is living in those conditions with the family.

Such levels of destitution make a mockery of Ms Anderson's ambitions for the children:

“Anderson spoke glowingly about her children, one of them, Mario Cameron, she explained, is a budding track and field athlete at Bridgeport High School, and her daughter, Angel Cameron, hopes to ace her Primary Exit Profile exams in the next few weeks.”

“Mi want mi likkle son Alphanso fi get a good education and fi dem here (motioning to her twin girls Hailey and Kylie), fi grow up and turn doctor or lawyer and come back come help me in the future…” the Sunday Observer quoted Anderson as saying.

Ms Anderson's story is indeed a teachable moment for young men and women – and we stress young women who are the ones most often left with the children – as they contemplate starting a family.

How often must it be stressed that families must have only the number of children they can afford to care for adequately? People can't have children and then turn around and ask others to care for them.

We sincerely hope that Ms Anderson will get the help she seeks for her family. But the lesson that she has a long and rough road ahead should not be lost on anyone.


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