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Women are not always to blame, says mother of six

Published:Tuesday | April 23, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Wong during an interview yesterday.
Miriam Wong in her one-bedroom 'home' on Hanover Street, Kingston. - photos by Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter

It is easy to chastise women for having more children than they can afford.

For one mother in Kingston's inner city, it's too easy to say that all the women simply didn't care. Miriam Wong said she never intended to have six children with no steady means to support them.

"I used to live with the father of my first two boys fi about seven years before him went to Miami," she said. "But him change like green lizard."

She has two other boys by another man who, she says, still lives in Jamaica. The father of her youngest child, a girl, died a few years ago. She said it's not a case of having children to 'fill out her lot'.

"Yuh might all have a three, four year when you nah have sex enuh," she said. "But is like when yuh meet a one man and something gwaan, mi get pregnant." She said the pill made her nauseous, and the fear of catching sexually transmitted infections or HIV/AIDS was not as high back then. She said she would be more than capable of caring for her children if she could find "sumting steady". She hasn't worked full-time since losing her job at the Jamaica Conference Centre a few years ago.

Yesterday, not for the first time, none of the five children who live with her were in school. Having not been able to provide much of a Sunday dinner, she didn't want them to "drop dung a school".

"Sometimes dem nuh drink nuh tea," she said. Her oldest daughter is in her early 20s, but Wong said she isn't able to help. Despite her situation, she is adamant she does not mistreat her children and continually gives God thanks for all of them.

"Yuh must never turn yuh back on yuh children. Dem same one can mek a way fi yuh," she said. "None a dem nuh handicap. Di one ting mi short of is financing." The six of them live in one of the many abandoned buildings in downtown Kingston, along Hanover Street. There is one bed and to get to the room requires navigating dirty walls and huge garbage bags filled with used plastic bottles.

"We waan sell dem," she said. "But you only get like five dollar a pound, so we a mek it build up." This is one of the many 'likkle hustlin' Miriam does to put something on the table.

"A one ting mi nah do an' a go a 'Back Road'," she said defiantly. She feels that many women easily get into similar situations because of broken promises from men.

"Den if your madda and fada neva both tek care of you, whe u woulda deh?" she reasoned. "Mi neva plan fi dis enuh, but mi jus naw get nuh help." She said she would be willing to give the children up for adoption, if caring families were found. She worries about their plight, but tries to remain positive.

"Yuh can't mek tings hold you down," she said. "Some people nuh have pickney and have blood pressure. Not me. Mi jus need some help."