July 4 will mark two years since Jennifer Ffrench’s pregnant sister, Desrine Irving, was killed after she was mowed down by a garbage truck in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, plunging the already poor family into untold hardship.
Irving died leaving six children – three boys and three girls. Ffrench was then left in a never-ending struggle to care for four of her six nieces and nephews. On Monday, the unthink-able happened. The house in which they lived on Berwick Road in the Kingston 13 area, off Maxfield Avenue and Waltham Park Road, was destroyed by fire, leaving the already struggling family homeless.
caught in the middle
Ffrench said they were in no way involved in an ongoing feud in the community. That did not stop men from hurling a bottle bomb on to the roof of their five-bedroom house. With guns barking, the people of the community were afraid to venture out to assist. Before firefighters arrived on the scene, the house was transformed into a blackened rubble. Another house at an adjoining premises was partially damaged in the blaze. Then, if that were not enough, two days ago, three of the siblings became orphans.
Their father, Barrington Mais, died after battling cancer. “They are now without a mother, a father and a hope,” wailed the grief-stricken aunt. “We really need some assistance.” She mumbled: “What did we do so wrong?” She added: “It has been a critical situation since their mother died and their father was ailing most of the time.”
One of the girls is only 15 and pregnant. All the items which were bought in preparation for the birth, due anytime now, have gone up in flames. “Nothing was saved,” bemoaned Ffrench. “We are homeless; we have nowhere to go and no one to turn to.” “Why?” she asked of no one in particular.
“I am not stable,” Shackesha Wilson, one of Ffrench’s nieces, said wryly, an indication that she does not know where she will rest her head at the end of the day. “My sisters and brothers are scattered all over the place.” Wilson said one of the siblings was dispatched to “the country and another in Franklyn Town”.
Thirteen-year-old Kimberly Mais, one of the three who lost their father on Wednesday, two days after they lost their home, is still staying with her aunt and youngest brother, six-year-old Dwayne Cranston. The three are with a good Samaritan, Ffrench’s church sister. The three fire victims and the good Samaritan are toughing it out in one room not far from where Ffrench’s house was gutted. “Even before the fire, I had to struggle to send them to school,” Ffrench lamented. “It has been very rough.”
They are beseeching members of the public who can assist their plight to do so.