Help pours in for Palo Seco family
by Sascha Wilson 21 October 2019
The plight of a Palo Seco couple and their two babies has touched the hearts of many people throughout the country.
After Guardian Media carried their story on Monday, the newsroom was inundated with calls from people who wanted to help or give support to the family in some way or the other.
Their squalor living conditions came to fore after 22-year-old Niola Alexander was caught stealing milk and other food items from a supermarket.
Alexander broke down in tears as she explained that frustration led her to steal because her babies were hungry and she had nothing to feed them.
Alexander was not arrested.
Instead the police paid for the items and gave her a ride home after the owner decided against pressing charges. Not long after a video that was posted on Facebook to embarrass her went viral. But, instead of condemnation, Alexander received an outpouring of support from the public.
Alexander lives in a wooden, concrete and galvanize shack with a leaking roof with her two sons, Jassiah, 15 months, and Missah, four months, and her husband Brandon Aguillera, 25, at Beach Road, Palo Seco.
Their home is surrounded by bushes, has no windows or doors and no pipe-borne water or electricity. They have no bathroom or proper toilet facilities.
Their home is barely furnished and they all sleep on one bed.
They are forced to cook on a fireside as they have don’t have a stove or gas tank. The younger baby has no clothes while his brother barely has any clothing.
The unemployed mother and her husband who works part-time as a construction worker are appealing for assistance for their children and material to construct a proper home.
Already the Indian Walk Police Youth Club has created a Facebook page called People Helping People and a WhatsApp Group to solicit help for the family.
President Quincy Jones and vice president Donniel Blackwell took water and other items to the family on Saturday. They returned on Sunday and with Aguillera’s help cut down the tall bushes near the track and house and also cleaned up the surroundings.
Jones said, “The fact is they don’t have anything. People might be saying why they don’t look for work, but that is not the point. The point is about bringing back humanity. They just need that intervention and support.”
He said they have gotten a lot of responses with people offering to purchase food items, a stove, a gas tank, construction materials and other things. He said their main objective is to empower the couple and help them build a comfortable home.
A woman from Santa Cruz also promised to buy the couple a cellphone. A team from the National Family Services Division of the Ministry of Social Development is expected to visit the family today while the Children’s Authority is also looking into the matter. Shemelle Paradice of the Communications Unit said they will be contacting the family to fully understand their circumstances and to determine if there are any child protection concerns.
“If this is the case the Authority will take the necessary steps to ensure that the children in this family are safe.”
Given the family’s poor circumstances, Paradice said the Authority will also be liaising with other agencies to determine what support can be given to the children and adults.