Mother of 7, hiding from abuser, homeless and afraid after fire

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HELP NEEDED: The woman and four of her seven children who are now homeless after fire destroyed their rented apartment in south Trinidad on Sunday night. – Lincoln Holder

A WOMAN on the run from an abusive man for the past year is pleading for help from the public after her apartment was destroyed by fire on Sunday night.

She and her seven children are now homeless.

The woman begged Newsday not to use her name in our story or any identifying photos of herself and her children since the man remains free despite her having made several reports to the police.

The 35-year-old single mother said she does not know what to do or who to turn to for help since she is afraid the man can track her down and kill her if her identity is made public.

“After the fire was put out, we spent the night in the gallery because we have nowhere else to go. I have been through so much in my life that I could write a book,” said the woman whose children range in age from two to 15.

The weeping woman said she was kidnapped and shot in both legs in April last year, in La Romaine. She made a report to the police, but when the man was not arrested she decided to flee with her children.

She moved to another location in South Trinidad and was renting an apartment. She produced several police station receipts showing the dates, times and police station where she filed the reports.

The fire broke out shortly before 7 pm on Sunday while she and her children were outside in the yard. Minutes earlier, a mosquito coil was lit in their shared bedroom. The woman said she believes the coil ignited something in the room and this caused the fire.

One of the children saw the mattress on fire and alerted relatives.

With the help of a neighbour, the family used buckets of water and a hose attached to a water tank to put out the flames before fire officers arrived. The apartment where the family was staying was destroyed.

“The more water we threw, the more the fire spread. We all slept in the same room. Everything in that room was destroyed — the bed with the mattress and another mattress on the ground.

“School is reopening soon and my children lost all of their uniforms and books,” the woman said.

“I get public assistance for the children. Other than that, I get no help from anyone. I keep running and running from this man and now, I just don’t not know what to do or who to turn to.”

She said because she fears for her life, she has been unable to hold down a meaningful job ever since she fled from the man. She said money is tight and, having lost everything to the fire, she does not know how to feed herself and her children or where to find shelter.

When Newsday spoke to the landlady, she said she too sympathised with the woman’s plight, but added that she is also on hard times and cannot afford to rebuild the apartment.

The woman said she was registered in the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services’ Food Support programme, but it was suspended some months ago after discrepancies and fraud were detected at the height of the covid19 pandemic.

Since then, she has not been part of the programme. She said she has an appointment for next week to visit the ministry’s office in Port of Spain to reapply for a food card.

Southern Division police confirmed to Newsday that they are “actively” investigating a case of kidnapping and wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, against the man – a year after the actual incident.

They assured that the case would “come to a resolution soon.”

Anyone willing to assist the woman and her children can contact this reporter at 607-4929 or via e-mail: [email protected] and the information will be passed on to the woman.

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