A father's wish for Christmas - Dad of five seeks a chance, proper shelter for children
BUCKS COMMON, Clarendon:
The only thing father of five Antonio Lewis wants for his Christmas is a job and a better shelter for his children.
Currently living in a one-room shack, Lewis does odd jobs and tries to balance it out by "farming every little thing". However, with the harsh drought experienced for the greater part of the year, there was little yield from his farming efforts.
His 12-year-old son started high school three weeks ago as he could not meet the back-to-school expenses. Thanks to Achiever's Multi Resource Centre's owner Gerda Shand, his son was able to make a late entrance.
"It's rough, but I have to fight with them; my father wasn't there for me. Right now I don't even know his name. I want to be the father I never had," he told Rural Xpress.
Lewis, who initially was sharing the shack with three of his children, got the additional two after their mother took them to him.
"What can I do; I have to deal with it, it makes it even harder, but the one thing I won't do is turn my back on them," he promised.
Lewis knows all about sacrifices, with the meagre earnings he receives from the odd jobs he gets now and again, he often refrains from eating, just so his children has enough. There are nights when he would sit up and leave the children to the two beds in the room.
A Christian for the last two years, he is of the firm belief that better days are ahead.
"At times it seems I am hanging to a thread of hope, but at least I am still hanging," he said.
"I know that God will send help my way. I just have to be patient and continue to trust him," he said.
Lewis is appealing to Food For The Poor to help him with a house so he and his children can be more comfortable. He is also seeking employment on a construction site or at a block factory as a labourer.
"I am a hard worker; I have no time to loaf. Just give me a chance to prove myself," is the heartfelt plea coming from him.
Transformed by children
Lewis' life has seen a total transformation as before he became a father, he used to hang around on the street corners with his friends. Not having a good role model, he never thought much of anything. His story could have been so much more different if there was not a reason to change his lifestyle.
"My children are my motivation. I want what's best for them," he said about his offspring whose ages range from seven to 16.
"I could have been involved in gangs, but my children changed my focus. They mean the world to me. Just help me to do the best I can."