Former ward of the state fighting to break out of poverty
As a former ward of the state, the life story of Nickeisha Ingram is one of struggle and hardship as she has spent most of her life feeling rejected and uncared for.
Battered and bruised, but not giving up, she said, as she last week recounted to The Gleaner her life as a ward and the battle she has had to go through afterwards, just to survive.
At the age of eight, she said she was raped by a cousin, who was then sent off to the country, and had to endure constant physical abuse from her mother and stepfather.
By the time she was around 13 years old, Ingram was shipped off to the Glenhope Children's Home.
"The year I went to children's home in the summer, my mother got married in December. Maybe I was the stumbling block, because she basically gave me away. Can you imagine your mother getting married and my brother and sister were at the wedding and I wasn't there? I hadn't been to a wedding, and that would have been a big thing for me. I didn't feel like family. It was from a long time I had been feeling rejected," Ingram said.
"When I was at Glenhope, it was rough, because I had to be fighting and defending myself from other girls who would want to behave sexual towards me. Dem would hold you down. They didn't usually put the older girls with the younger ones, but in the nights, they would leave their dormitories and come over. If you resist, dem gang and beat you up. The house mothers are there, but they are not there every moment," she said, occasionally breaking down in tears.
Today, Ingram has four children, each with no father figure in their lives, and she has another child on the way.
Ingram said she had found herself a part of a cycle that is difficult to break out of, especially since it is hard finding a job.
Due her desperation at times, she said was forced into relationships with men who then leave her stranded with a baby.
She has been trying to advance herself, however, doing a number of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects and nursing courses on her own.
In the meantime, Ingram is hoping that, once she has delivered her baby, she will be able find a job as she is ready to break her cycle of poverty and struggle.
If you would like to assist Nickeisha Ingram, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.