Sat | Sep 22, 2018

A mother's struggles

Published:Sunday | June 14, 2015 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris

She lost her three children and the house they lived in when her mentally ill brother set fire to the two-bedroom unit in March.

Now Suzette Morais is about to be homeless as the friend she has been living with in the aftermath of her tragedy is about to migrate.

Three of Morais' six children were burnt to death in March, while they were at home in Hopeful Village, St Andrew, and the mother is still tormented by this daily as she struggles to be strong for her other children.

Several promises were made following the tragedy which drew national attention, but most, including the pledge to help her build a house on a piece of land owned by her father, are yet to come true.

Morais was offered temporary accommodation by a friend, while her mentally ill son was placed in the care of a Good Samaritan. Her youngest daughter went to live with her eldest daughter after the fire, but she is now back in her mother's care.

"I would really love to get a job and I need somewhere to live," said Morais, whose children, nine-year-old Abigail Reid, 15-year-old Leonardo Morris, and 18-year-old Bebeto Harris, perished in the blaze.

The single mother, who lost everything in the fire, said she has not been able to secure a job although she has a certificate in housekeeping from HEART Trust/NTA.

In the past, she had filled a temporary position at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company as a customer-service representative and had done clean-up work for a construction company over the years when work was available. She would love to get a job as an office attendant or a housekeeper so that she will be in a better position to take care of her children.

Morais had tried committing suicide after her children's death, but she has received extensive psychiatric counselling at the Kingston Public Hospital, where she tried to hang herself on the night she was told her children had not survived the fire.

"It's like when I remember them, it feels like the first time when everything happened and I got the call that my house is burning down with my children. It's like a hurt inside of me.

"I have to be trying hard and still not sleeping. I would sleep a little bit, get up and look up in the ceiling and force myself to get back to sleep, but I pray a lot and I ask God to bring me through," said Morais.