Fri | Feb 28, 2020

Mom concerned about teen’s CSEC prospects as fire leaves family homeless

Published:Monday | January 20, 2020 | 12:08 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer
Anthony Salter, who rushed inside the burning room to rescue a girl as his family home was razed by fire.
Anthony Salter, who rushed inside the burning room to rescue a girl as his family home was razed by fire.

In the mist of her heartache, Christine McDonald is grateful that no lives were lost or major injuries sustained as fire reduced her Palmetto Pen, Clarendon, home to charred rubble last Thursday morning.

After leaving home to purchase a phone card at a nearby shop about 10 a.m., leaving her mother and a young child sleeping in the house, she heard terrifying screams as she made her way back home.

She soon saw the flames ripping through the dwelling, leaving little time to save any of the family’s possessions.

McDonald’s stepfather, Anthony Shorter, valiantly tried to battle the flames, but they were too much for him as the house quickly became engulfed.

He dashed into the room to save the screaming young girl from the raging fire.

“By the time I got to her, the flames already surrounded her. I didn’t have time to think about my safety. I just put my hand in the fire and grabbed her,” he said, adding that the incident has left him traumatised.

“It is hard, and right now very confusing,” McDonald told The Gleaner as she tried to process the disaster.

She revealed that she only had a chance to save the clothing on her back and a few pieces she had been washing.

“The family is scattered, as we are being accommodated at different locations. I would love to have the family unit back together,” she said, pointing out that the fire has also displaced her mother, stepfather and the three children who lived at the house.

SBAs, notes lost

With her teenage daughter, who attends Foga Road High School, set to sit her Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams in a few months, McDonald is even more worried about how the loss will affect her.

“All my daughter’s CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate) notes, thumb drive and SBAs (school-based assessment) papers were destroyed. She is in a wonder right now,” McDonald said.

Dei Rasi Freckleton and Stars of Hope are now championing the cause of the family and are assisting in coordinating relief.

Pastor Ann Marie Richard said McDonald and her children are a part of their programme – McDonald in the adolescent skills – training programme, and the children in the cadet and mentoring group.

Freckleton, through his Young People Advocating For Change, has been seeking to help the children make it to school.

“We are going to be putting together all the books lost in the fire and financial support, but our real focus is to get the family back together in the shortest possible time,” he said, joining in the appeal to get help for the family.

McDonald said right now the family need clothes and food, but most of all, they just need to get back to being together under their own roof.

Persons who can assist the family are being asked to make donations at Stars of Hope, 60 1/2 Manchester Avenue, May Pen, Clarendon, or make cash donations at NCB account number 564-511-447 (May Pen).