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Mom afraid to lose children to state care

Susan Henry and her common-law husband Errol Thompson have been desperately trying to make ends meet for their four children.

THE STAR visited the couple at their home on Harvey Road along Maxfield Avenue yesterday, where Henry was busy preparing dinner while the children, ages three, seven, 10, 12 and played in the yard. Seated on a pile of blocks, Henry, 34, breathed deeply before stating that they are in dire need of assistance. She said she is seeking the public's assistance to improve their living conditions as she does not want her children to become wards of the state again.

"CDA [referring to the Child Protection and Family Services Agency] did take away my four kids from dem likkle bit because dem say mi never in a position to take care of dem. Dem say di situation never good because a one room we did live in with mi husband and four a dem. Mi get dem back since year and God know mi don't want dem to go back in the children home," Henry said.

Their dilapidated two-bedroom dwelling is hardly sufficient. Henry and her spouse sleep on a mattress on the floor while the children share a bed in the other room. A small toilet is situated to the right of the yard. There is hardly any furniture and clothes are packed to the side of the rooms. Henry said they have been living on the leased property for close to five months and they are trying to build an additional room.

"Mi nah work right now but mi use to do domestic work before. Mi husband do likkle summen but sometimes him work and people owe him. He do mechanic work and other things. People use we, mi nah go tell nuh lie. Right now a fight we a fight to survive," she said. Henry said that they have received some assistance and were able to start the foundation for a third room.

"CDA say we need at least three bedrooms and a verandah [to be] built so we can properly provide for dem but a fight we a fight to survive right now," Henry added. As she spoke, one of her sons hugged her tightly. Henry cracked a smile and rubbed his head. She then watched as the other children argued with each other over a plate of grated coconut fibre. Although the new school year starts in less than a month, Henry said there is no money for back-to-school shopping.

"Right now mi wish mi could get some help to just finish up di house. Mi would want a dresser fi mi likkle son. We need a good bathroom. Mi nuh have any running water but mi neighbour say if mi get the pipe dem run, she would help mi out. We can't afford to buy the pipe dem yet," she said. Henry hung her head as she stated that she does not like to beg.

"Mi husband do him best and give us once him have it but a lot of times we have to ask people for help and dem give us clothes and food sometimes. We go through a lot mi a tell yuh. Mi nah do domestic work now but if mi get a little business for mi self mi woulda do it. Mi really want to make life better for my children because dem really need it," Henry said.

Anyone wishing to assist Susan Henry and her family may contact her at 876-860-0140.