JACQUELINE FRANK’S worst fears were realised the day she walked into a classroom with her son, Ramon Rankin, on his first day at primary school. Everyone froze, and the gaze of the little ones remained fixed on her son. Too frail to absorb the shock, she burst into tears.
“Sometimes I cry to see the response to Ramon, and that day, it was the teacher who comforted me,” reminisced Frank, as she revealed that this was the usual response from the public whenever she was on the road with Ramon. Remembering those incidents pierces her heart.
Frank was worried that her son would hate school because of the treatment that was meted out to him there, but now she is assured that nothing will cause Ramon to hate school, as the youngster, who wants to be a doctor, has developed his own coping mechanisms, shrugging off the most hateful comments and maintaining his place as one of the top-10 students in his class.
Dedication to learn
His dedication to learn is clear, as no one has to wake him on school days. The obedient and committed 11-year-old ensures that he takes his goat to a new location every morning, feeds it, then treks back home to prepare for school. From birth, Frank noticed that all was not well with her fourth child, as his left ear was deformed, and the left side of his face was poorly developed. Ramon was soon diagnosed with congenital hemifacial microsomia – a congenital disorder that affects the development of the lower half of the face, most commonly the ears and the mouth. Now, he needs plastic surgery to correct the abnormality, and a variety of devices to aid in the operations.
One of the corrective surgeries is estimated to cost in excess of $400,000, and the devices for the surgery, which will have to be sourced from overseas, may top US$15,000. Ramon will need at least two additional surgeries, however, the family cannot afford to pay, as they often find it difficult to make the bi-monthly visit from Lacovia in St Elizabeth to the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston for Ramon to have check-ups.
Financial difficulties are a recurring problem for the family, which has consistently been taking Ramon to the doctor since he was two weeks old. His father, Leroy Rankin, is a small farmer, but business is slow and Frank, who is a basic-school teacher, says sometimes they borrow money to cover the expenses.
With the Change a Life Jamaica project, Ramon’s family is comforted by the fact that he will get the assistance he deserves. The Television Jamaica (TVJ) Child Month initiative aims to raise funds to underwrite the cost of surgery for children who have serious medical conditions that prevent them from living normal lives.
Ramon’s father is overjoyed that his son will receive assistance from TVJ and partners. “I am glad, excited! I feel so good now that I can’t even explain, because we couldn’t manage alone. It’s just like a dream come true for Ramon,” confessed the senior Rankin.
You can make a donation to the Change a Life Jamaica project through the following:
1. Jamaica National Building Society accounts:
Jamaican dollars (J$) – 10972371
US dollars (US$) – 10972378
GBP (£) – 10972375
2. Scotiabank Jamaica – BNS (Cross Roads Branch)
Jamaican dollars (J$) – 822945
US dollars (US$) – 822946
3. Digicel Jamaica Donation Line