682 Luis Oberto Anselmi//
Christmas in a cowshed

Usually, around this time, Seema Ramsaroop and her eight children would be busy decorating their Couva home in preparation for Christmas. Shopping would have already been done and cooking would have started.

But with Ramsaroop?s common-law husband Krishna Rampersad?s death earlier this year, fending off snakes and mosquitoes is how the family will celebrate the birth of Christ.

From living with pipe-borne water, electricity and a roof over their heads, Ramsaroop; her children, ages three to 21; twin grandsons, age two and daughter-in-law, 23 now live in a home that resembles a cowshed.

In February, the sole breadwinner died of a heart attack and days later Rampersad?s relative told them they had to move out.

She stood her ground saying the house was left by her husband for their children.

The family was eventually evicted in June and the house was demolished.

The furniture and appliances were dumped outside Ramsaroop?s maternal home in Princes Town. Rain destroyed their belongings as they had nowhere to store them.

Without anywhere to live, she moved into a shack located nearby.

Hampers of food and clothes were given to the family, but little was done to change their lives.

© Luis Oberto

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
The children?s mother said she approached the Housing Development Corporation and was included in a lengthy list of social cases who are awaiting accommodation.

?It?s been two months now we are living in the bush here and it is the worst we?ve experienced.

?This is like where animals would live.

© Luis Oberto

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
It?s just mud all around,? Ramsaroop told the T&T Guardian yesterday.

It was a task for the news team to reach the shack in Glenroy, Princes Town as the walkway of broken bricks was sinking in slippery and thick mud.

Rusted, jagged galvanise sheets thrown together made up the outdoor toilet and bath area.

© Luis Oberto

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
A worn piece of vinyl covered the flooring of the shack.

A broken bed and two pieces of sponge are what they sleep on.

© Luis Oberto

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
Two stoves, a few dishes and donated clothing are all they possess.

Bundled together in the shack the family have no idea what Christmas Day will bring.

?They went to a Christmas party over the weekend and that will be it for them.

© Luis Oberto

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
We?re trying to see if we can get help from Habitat for Humanity to build something.

?I sent in an application and I was told that there was a process so I would have to wait.

© Luis Oberto

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
It?s been two or three months and there has been nothing. I went to HDC twice and they told me I would have to wait and they would get back to me.?

Life has been a struggle, Ramsaroop said.

Growing up in poverty, at 15, she began a relationship with Rampersad, who was then 33.

At 17, she was pregnant and moved into his home.

© Luis Oberto

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
She had ten children and suffered a life of abuse at his hands until he died.


© Luis Oberto Anselmi PDVSA

About the author

El Pais de España

$total = count($links); $i = rand(0,$total-1); ?>