Newborn baby faces life of squalor

In a dark, damp, win­dow­less home par­tial­ly shroud­ed by vines, lives a 22-year-old first-time moth­er Di­ane Ali and her three-week-old son, Im­ran Ali.

The child whose birth is not yet reg­is­tered cries in­ces­sant­ly. He has nev­er been breast­fed and does not have a blan­ket to cov­er him at nights. His creased lit­tle face is cov­ered with dozens of mos­qui­to and sand­fly bites. Un­able to prop­er­ly pro­vide to his needs, Di­ane has no choice but to feed him pow­dered milk do­nat­ed by a Good Samar­i­tan. For now, he has a box of Stage One Pam­pers to wear but when it is fin­ished, Di­ane says she will have to find mon­ey to buy cheap di­a­pers from a whole­sale store in San Fer­nan­do.

Di­ane’s moth­er Has­meen Ali, who al­so lives with them in the ram­shackle house at Hill­piece Road, Phillip­ine, said each day she walks through the af­flu­ent Palmiste com­mu­ni­ty seek­ing help.

The mon­ey she ac­cu­mu­lates is used to buy a few gro­ceries for the fam­i­ly. The house is not owned by the Ali fam­i­ly who has lived there since 2016. It was aban­doned by a neigh­bour and Ali said they moved in­to it af­ter a rel­a­tive se­cret­ly sold the house in which she grew up.

“We were still liv­ing in the house when it was sold and we were told we had to leave. We had no place to go so we came here. This is how we end­ed up liv­ing in these con­di­tions,” Di­ane ex­plained.

Sit­ting on a mat­tress with no sheets, the young moth­er said she got preg­nant for a man she met at Ram­leela cel­e­bra­tions in Palmiste Park, two years ago. Say­ing the man worked off­shore, Di­ane ad­mit­ted that he nev­er pro­vid­ed any milk or di­a­per sup­plies for the ba­by since his birth at the San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal.

“He came and saw me when I was preg­nant but not since then,” she re­vealed.

How­ev­er, she said the ab­sent fa­ther planned to vis­it them on Sun­day with sup­plies. Di­ane said she was not ready for a ba­by but when she vis­it­ed a doc­tor he in­formed her that the ba­by was al­ready too big for the preg­nan­cy to be ter­mi­nat­ed.

“I have to take care of him but he cries a lot. He is al­ways hot and we have to keep him out of clothes, “ she added.

Re­spond­ing to claims that she has been us­ing the ba­by to beg at Palmiste Park, Di­ane said this was not true. She ex­plained that a male rel­a­tive who is an al­co­holic has been chas­ing her away from the house, es­pe­cial­ly at nights.

“When he comes home and there is no food he starts to cuss. He dri­ves me and my moth­er. He does tell me to get out of here and go by my man, “ Di­ane said can­did­ly.

She added that the rel­a­tive makes her so frus­trat­ed that she takes her child and goes to the Park to clear her head. She said the ba­by is of­ten cry­ing and this makes the rel­a­tive even more mad.

“I have no choice to go there in the night but I will try not to go be­cause peo­ple telling me the ba­by will get sick if I keep him in the dew, “ Di­ane added.

She said be­cause of their liv­ing con­di­tions she want­ed a good home for her son. Her moth­er Has­meen said they were for­tu­nate that the wor­ship­pers from the near­by mosque in Philip­pine of­ten helped them with gro­ceries.

How­ev­er, she said they did not have a stove to cook food on. The bath­room is dys­func­tion­al and all of their clothes are packed in box­es and in a suit­case. The house has no elec­tric­i­ty or run­ning wa­ter but Has­meen said a rel­a­tive brings bot­tled wa­ter to them. She al­so said it was dan­ger­ous for the ba­by to sleep on the mat­tress on the ground as snakes of­ten slith­er in­side through the win­dow­less and door­less house. She al­so said they did not have mon­ey to pay for a house not did they own any land.

Neigh­bours said the fam­i­ly once owned land near­by but it was sold for $8,000. Any­one want­i­ng to as­sist the fam­i­ly can con­tact Ali at 273-7928.

Con­tact­ed for com­ment, Min­is­ter of So­cial De­vel­op­ment Cher­rie Ann Crichlow-Cock­burn said she will send an of­fi­cer to vis­it the fam­i­ly im­me­di­ate­ly. She said an as­sess­ment will be done and a tem­po­rary food card can be pro­vid­ed im­me­di­ate­ly. She al­so said once as­sess­ments are done, the fam­i­ly can qual­i­fy to be placed in a rental unit for six months.

Reporter: Radhica De Silva

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