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‘I don’t want to be like my dad’: No mother, no money, no problem

Published:Sunday | June 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
Dave Kelly (centre) and his boys, (from left) JeVaughn, DeVaughn and Vaughn.

"More than a father" is how Dane Kelly is described by his eldest son, Vaughn.

Kelly has been caring for his three boys on his own in the tough inner-city community of Olympic Gardens in St Andrew for the past nine years, after their mother decided to move out of the house.

But having grown up without his father around, he was determined to break the cycle and be there for his boys who are 18, 12 and 8.

"I had to make a difference with my children, because my father lived down the road and my mother lived up the road. I lived with my auntie from I was around two months old and she had 12 children, and took three of my father's, making 15," Kelly told The Sunday Gleaner.

Kelly said an outside pregnancy and family members interfering with the relationship caused it to end, as his baby-mother moved out while pregnant with his youngest son. But despite struggling to make ends meet at times, he did not shirk from his responsibility and has developed a very strong bond with his boys.

"A father is supposed to stand by his children no matter what," said the 43-year-old Kelly.

"Children grow up better with father and mother, but sometimes things happen, but no matter what, fathers fi take care of their children.

"It is hard sometimes, but I have to do the best I can to make the boys comfortable. Sometimes, I don't eat at all to make them eat."

The boys' mother visits at times, but even if this was not the case they would not be short of love and affection, as Kelly makes quality time for them.

"I would like the society to see how I react with my sons and bond with them," Kelly said. "I sit down and talk to them, romp wid them and mi all carry them go football match, a so mi deal wid it."

Investment bearing fruit

Kelly, who works as a porter at the Olympic Gardens Clinic, said the greatest challenge has been sending the boys to school, with him having to sometimes wake up from 4 a.m. to go and hustle and return to make breakfast and take the younger ones to school.

But his investment has been bearing fruit as Vaughn will, next academic year, progress to sixth form at St Andrew Technical High School, having successfully sat five CXC subjects.

Vaughn, who is a role model to his brother and the wider community, said it has been rough growing up, but expressed gratitude for the type of father he has.

"It is very rough, because there is the gun violence and everything, so it is very rough. You have to just keep focused and know your priorities and know what you want," said Vaughn.

"I am very grateful for my father. Despite this not being the setting that every young man would want to live in, every day I tell my friends I am very grateful to have my father.

"He is more than a father; he is a brother and a friend that teaches me a lot. We watch games together and we have genuine laughs."

In order to grow boys in the right way in such a volatile community, Kelly sometimes has to put down his foot, but tries to talk to them about life and explain to them wrong from right.