"I should not be living like this!"
Disabled mother needs a house for her family
Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
Struggling through a really hard life since the day she was born, 28-year-old Denise Chito has a strong, determined spirit that causes her to never give up.
Badly disfigured with scars all over her body as a result of being chopped several times within inches of her life at the age of 17, her fighting spirit has kept her alive.
Today, the most important thing Denise craves, with every fibre of her being, is a decent, comfortable, permanent home for her family.
Raising her three daughters - Faith, 2; Dejeanai, 5; and Deneisa, 7 - with her common-law husband, Raymond Campbell, in a one-room dwelling with one bed in Kingston, Denise says she is really tired of living in squalor and discomfort.
"I have lived a really hard life and I have tried hard to survive, but this should not be my life, I should not be living like this, because I have a house.
"I got one from Food For The Poor in 2007, but now someone else is living in it," she told The Gleaner.
Born in Kingston, Denise grew up mainly on the streets fending for herself, because her mother had a difficult time raising her and her four siblings.
Not getting much schooling, at age 17 she moved to Mannings Hill Road in St Andrew where she started a relationship with a man.
Shortly after, things turned sour between them and on December 6, 2001, in a jealous rage, he attacked Denise, her mother and a friend with a machete.
The attacker then ran away and was never caught.
"I lost three fingers on my right hand and three on my left hand and I got injuries to both my knees. I lose part of the knee cap out my left leg. My mother and her friend that I was staying with get chop also, but I get most of the chop and I nearly died. I couldn't walk at all," she said.
After spending several weeks at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew, Denise was transferred to the Mona Rehabilitation Centre to learn to walk again and regain the use of her hands.
received two-bedroom house
In 2002, after she was discharged, she moved to Linstead, St Catherine, where her stepfather gave her a piece of land.
In 2007, she received a two-bedroom house from Food For The Poor that she erected on the land to raise her family.
But in 2011, she said her stepfather's mother came forward to claim the plot of land.
It was later sold and Denise and her family were given notice to move with the house.
She said she then went on a desperate quest to several government agencies trying to get a plot of land to relocate the house and her family.
She wrote several letters to a number of government agencies, but to no avail.
"I wrote to the former minister of housing (Dr Horace Chang) and I get back a letter that they say they will look into it. At one point, a lady came to investigate. She went to look at the house in Linstead and she came here to look at where we are living, but I don't see anyone since," Denise said.
"After that I go back to the Ministry of Housing but they tell me that nothing is there."
She added: "The man who buy the land all rent out me house because I don't get anywhere to put the house on and I don't even get any of that money."
independent NHT contributor
In January, Denise became an independent contributor to the National Housing Trust (NHT), putting herself in a position to qualify for any available loan to get a piece of land.
She has even gone to look at land in several parishes, but has been unable to raise enough funds to purchase a lot.
Denise's greatest wish for Christmas is comfort and security for her family.
"I just wish I could get somewhere for the Christmas. Me really want me house to live in. Me tired of the sleepless nights and the tossing and turning. Me daughter them twist and toss, them kick in them sleep.
"I wouldn't mind if I could get it for Christmas. Me really want it for the Christmas," she lamented.
"My children are getting big and need their own room. We can't continue like this. Most nights I can't sleep because it is very uncomfortable, all of us sleeping on one bed. We lie down crossway so we can hold."
Supporting her family through vending at her gate, while Campbell does the occasional contract work, Denise said she doesn't want the State to take her children because they may feel she was an unfit mother.
"I want to be a better mother to my children. I want them to say 'my mother never have it but she try. She provide a comfortable home for me and my sisters'," stated the proud mother, showing off her two elder daughters' report cards.
The two appear to be doing well in school.
She added: "At the end of the day, I just want to say this is mine and I can leave something for my daughters. I'm not giving up, because where there is life, there is hope."