Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Family in 'tarpaulin house' grateful for outpouring of support

Published:Friday | August 14, 2015 | 8:00 AMShanna Kaye Monteith
Fortella Pickersgill (right) and her daughter, Jessica, smile with baby Brianna.

Still living under a tarpaulin but with more hope, Fortella Pickersgill and her daughter thank God for His timely response to her prayers.

"Ever since our story went public, we've been getting calls both local and overseas from people who want to help. Some have transferred money to us and others have contributed food items," said a grateful Pickersgill.

Though people are sympathetic towards the family, Pickersgill said her one-year-old granddaughter has been the main source of concern.

"People call asking about the baby. Others have donated things for her to feed on like Lasco, cornflakes, juice and things like that. I even received vitamins and supplements for her," she told The Gleaner.

Bigger than all of Pickersgill's fears is the possibility of 'child services' taking her grandchild from the family.

According to her: "I was worried when I had no place else to stay, but never have I thought about dying until I saw the ID of the person who came to see me yesterday (Wednesday)."

Representatives from the Child Development Agency (CDA) paid Pickersgill a visit Wednesday evening.

"When I saw them, I thought they were people coming to help like the others. Then I realised and I instantly became afraid. I told them that I would rather die than have them take my grandbaby away. I was prepared to die," she said.

When The Gleaner contacted Rosalee Gage-Grey, CEO of the CDA, about the situation, she explained that the agency did not visit to separate the child from her family.

"We went to try and see if we could help to find accommodation for the baby and her mother, whether it be with one of their friends or relatives," said Gage-Grey.

 

accommodation

 

She confirmed that the CDA team that was sent transported Jessica (the baby's mother) and (one-year-old) Brianna to the baby's sister, who is living off Elleston Road in Kingston.

Pickersgill's daughter, Jessica, was very understanding of the CDA's objective.

"At first, we thought of staying with Brianna's sister, but then someone came here and saw the situation and invited us to come and stay with them until we can help ourselves," she said. "I'm going to stay there for a while until I get somewhere to live. We've not yet visited the place because we stayed with Brianna's sister last night. When the people from child services came, they took us to her place and looked around to see if the place was in good condition."

Pickersgill also shared that representatives from the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing came and enquired about the lot they were staying on.

"When we told them that it's not our land, they told us to find out who has the title and see what can be done. They said, if not, then they'll relocate us," Fortella told The Gleaner.

When contacted, the ministry said it could not yet comment on the matter.

Pickersgill said she remained thankful to those who have been helping in whatever way they can, as well as to Tina Chin, the person who posted her situation on social media, eventually attracting attention.

rural@gleanerjm.com