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Help! - Clarendon mother begs for a chance to educate children

Published:Tuesday | July 11, 2017 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston
Oneil McKenzie stands with his awards he received at graduation recently.

MAY PEN, Clarendon:

Mother of four Orentha Watt is a mixture of pride and trepidation as her son, 11-year-old Oneil McKenzie, graduated from Rosewell Primary School with all of 13 awards and a shared math trophy.

Of all his awards, she is grateful for the Most Improved award as she accepts it as a reward for the tremendous sacrifice she made to make this happen.

"I was doing live-in babysitting work and I would come home on weekends. During the week, the children stayed with my mother, but she was too relaxed with them, so their schoolwork fell," she explained.

Watt made the difficult decision to quit the job to be home with them in order to properly monitor their schoolwork.

That meant surviving solely on the earning she made selling The Sunday Gleaner and the few domestic jobs she got in between.

"It was a struggle to keep all four in school and the three graduations (her youngest and eldest also graduated) completely wiped me out financially," she shared.

Looking ahead to the September term, Watt is living on hope and a prayer as she said she has no clue how she will manage to secure their school uniforms and books for the new year in September.

Oneil will be heading to Clarendon College in the new school year and Watt's hope is that he will earn a scholarship, which, she said, would ease the burden somewhat.

"I am not looking for a handout. I would love to get a little start, maybe raise chickens, or something that would see me in a better position to meet our needs," Watt pleaded.

The single mother said she has no help from the children's father, as he is incarcerated.

Vowing to do all she can to ensure her children - ages six, 11, 15 and 17 - stay on the straight and narrow, Watt also expressed gratitude for those who have been assisting her from time to time.

A member of the Christian Zion Redeem Temple Church, Watt has faith that things will get better.