Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 30th 2014 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, June 30, 2014
Any day now, single mother Seli-
ka Jacob will give birth to her third
child. Very likely she will take her
newborn to the place she currently
calls home---an abandoned, unse-
cured house furnished with only a
mattress. She shares that space
with her two other children and
another family of three and is des-
perately appealing for a safe place
to raise her children.
Jacob, 23, found herself in dire
straits six months ago when the
father of her children was arrested
and imprisoned. His relatives, with
whom she lived in Tobago, asked
her to leave their home and she
returned to Trinidad where she has
no relatives to turn to, so she ended
up on the streets with her children.
She eventually came upon the
abandoned house in Cocoyea Village,
San Fernando, and moved in with
Three weeks ago, while getting
counselling at a social welfare office,
Jacob met Candice Patterson, 22, a
mother of two girls, who is also
homeless. Patterson said her com-
mon-law-husband was shot dead
by police in 2011 and his relatives
put her out of their home
The two single mothers decided
to share the abandoned structure
and have worked out a system to
care for their four children, Kershelle
and Kimora, both five, Hannah, two,
and Kevisha, 11 months. Patterson
takes care of the children during the
day while Jacobs works. Jacobs
babysits at nights while Patterson
works at a casino.
Because of the distance and dark
lonely road to get to their home,
Jacob takes the children out onto
the main road every night to await
Patterson s return.
They worry about what will hap-
pen when Jacob gives birth.
Jacob, Patterson and another
woman, Tamika Johnson, were in
the spotlight almost two weeks ago
when they camped out in front of
the Housing Developing Corpora-
tion s (HDC) head office on South
Quay, Port-of-Spain, begging for
homes. After spending the night on
the Brian Lara Promenade in Port-
of-Spain with their four children,
the women also took their plight
Jacob said those efforts were not
successful but she was willing to go
public again to get a secure and com-
fortable place to live.
"We fear for our lives," she said
explaining that people using blocked
numbers have been calling their
phones, threatening to find them
and rape them.
"Sometimes I does be scared to
even answer the phone, the kind of
things they does be telling us," she
Both women say they have no rel-
atives to turn to.
"My mother left me with a relative
when I was three months old," said
Jacob. "My relative raised me but I
left her home when I was 17. When
I returned to look for her a few
months ago, she was in a home for
Jacob does not know if she has
any other relatives.
"I don t know if I have any broth-
ers, sisters, or anybody," she said.
Patterson said everyone she could
have turned to for help is dead.
"My mother, my father, my child
father... everybody I know dead. All
I have is my children," she said.
The structure the women cur-
rently occupy is the remnants of a
failed attempt by squatters to occupy
state lands. It consists of a floor, an
upstairs decking and a stairway to
the front. There are no walls, doors,
or windows. There is no running
water or electricity.
Jacobs has secured the open spaces
with sheets of old galvanise but that
is not enough to keep away drug
addicts who have stolen the few pos-
session she had. There is no pro-
tection against rain, insects, or rep-
The unfinished structure is sur-
rounded by tall, thick bushes and is
located on a lonely road some 15
minutes away from the main thor-
oughfare or other houses. Addicts
and other shady characters frequent
the deserted area.
"They does be there whole day.
Only in the night they does go. We
can t sleep in case they decide to
come back during the night," Jacob
The women said the mattress on
which they all slept was the only
possession that had not been stolen.
Jacob s stove and gas tank are long
gone, so the families cannot even
enjoy a hot meal.
"I used to have a stove and a gas
tank but somebody thief it when I
went to work. Now I does leave all
my things by a lady quite out the
road. Kevisha, the baby doesn t like
the cold milk, but it s the only thing
I could give her," Jacob said.
Even in her advanced state of
pregnancy, Jacob goes to work daily
at a DVD club in La Romaine. On
her way, she drops off the two older
girls at school in San Fernando, while
the younger ones accompany her to
"I keep them during the day, so
Candice can go out and try to get
help for us," she said.
The women are pleading with the
HDC to provide them with homes.
Jacob said they were willing to occu-
py one house temporarily until prop-
er arrangements could be made.
• Continues on Page A7
Pregnant, homeless in Cocoyea
Selika Jacobs, left, and Candice Patterson with their children, from left,
Kevisha, Hannah and Kreshelle, sit on a mattress in an abandoned
home in Cocoyea Village, San Fernando. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DESILVA
'My mother, my
father, my child
know dead. All I
have is my
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