A mom and children’s desperate wish for a real home

Mother of five Simone Moodie is making a desperate plea for assistance.

The 44-year-old lives with her two youngest children in a ramshackle board house in Franklin Town, east Kingston, which is needy of physical improvement.

Two of Moodie’s children are living with relatives while the oldest is in police custody.

But even now with the arrival of the hurricane season, Moodie is worried that heavy rainfall and strong winds will bring the dreaded discomfort the family of three have become accustomed to over the years.

“The whole roof a leak, when the rain fall everything wet up,” Moodie said despondently, explaining that the structure was left to her by her husband, now deceased, in 2015.

“This is where we live from him dead,” she said, mourning the fact that just months after their marriage with plans by her husband to build a proper house, he died in an accident.

Since then, Moodie and her children have been beneficiaries of the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).

Every two months, Moodie receives $10,000 from the Government-funded welfare programme which serves only a fraction of the approximately 500,000 Jamaicans living in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. That is 19 per cent of the population. Of that number, about 180,000 are PATH beneficiaries.

“Is really the PATH programme help wi out. That’s how we survive and can eat a little food. If it wasn’t for it, I don’t know how we would manage,” Moodie said, adding her thanks for the top-up of another $10,000 as part of the Government’s CARE programme to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When I get that little money I get to buy up grocery and make it serve until the next payment. The other day since the corona thing, I start getting $20,000 but before that mi really get $10,000.

“Mi happy for it because it help mi buy up some food since the children deh home now and I try and make it serve until the next time,” she said.

But daily bread is but one of the many essentials of life that Moodie is lacking. Apart from having to live in what can hardly be called a house, Moodie also lacks other household items like a stove and fan to assuage the heat emanating from the bare sheets of zinc sheltering them.

“We face a whole heap a things because a wood fire mi have fi cook pon. The condition just nuh good. We can’t even get a decent sleep in here a night-time because of the heat from the zinc.

“Mi cyah explain dah life here because this is just not a life. Them father dead from 2014 and leave this little place here. But it hard pon wi. We not living a good life,” the woman lamented.

Support from relatives living in the United States has also been lacking.

“Mi have two sister a foreign who send two barrel with likkle clothes and food but you know them cyah always do that. So otherwise, this is how we living,” she said.

Moodie has also never had a formal job and relied primarily on the children’s father for support. Finding a source of income has also proved difficult for the woman who complained of being turned away by would-be employers looking for younger people.

“Mi always a look around fi get something to do. But when mi guh them say them want younger people. Mi stop down a BIG Joe and them say is younger people them a take on fi work. But mi always a try and mi nah get nuh way out,” said Moodie. “Sometime dem ting here get to mi head because it nuh look good. And it stressing when I can’t find anything to give them to eat,” she added.

Moodie’s two children are grade four students at the Franklin Town Primary School. Denise Reid-Drysdale, guidance counsellor at the institution, said the children along with mother had been receiving lunches daily, funded through school fund-raisers and PATH.

“From the closure of schools we made sure that all our students who are on PATH receive lunch every day. We asked those children who live nearby to come to the school to pick up their lunches and their school work, and for others like, Ms Moodie’s children, we had to take the lunches to them because she did not have a phone,” Reid said.

The daily meals have since stopped, however, with funds drying up. “We were not able to fund the meals anymore and because school is pretty much winding down, we decided to stop,” said Reid.

The school also assisted students and their families with the most need, with care packages of which Moodie was also a beneficiary.

Since then, the mother has had to use what little grocery she has left to feed her family. “Is little rice and butter mi cook for them today,” she said.

In the meantime, Reid-Drysdale pointed to the negative impact that the children’s living condition is having on their performance at school.

“The children were not getting the online lessons because the mother didn’t have a phone. So we started dropping off the work whenever we took the lunches for them.

“Both of the children have learning challenges and it is difficult for them psychologically too, because they come to school without lunch and other children will make fun of them because they don’t have certain things,” Reid-Drysdale said.

In the meantime, Moodie said she would welcome assistance with some chickens and chicken feed to start her own business.

“I used to raise chicken so mi woulda like get a fowl coop and some chicken because mi usually do that as a living from long time,” said Moodie.


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