VIDEO: Mother struggling with ill sons – their fathers nowhere in the picture

The mother still finds time to volunteer as caregiver for the elderly woman pictured here – Camaleta Hines
Bernadette Baker strikes a pose with her special needs sons – Shanaldo Goodwin (left) and Travelle Vanriel

A 42-year-old resident of Williamsfield in St. Elizabeth, Bernadette Baker, is appealing for help with her two differently abled sons who are unable to get their medical check-ups and fulfill certain basic needs due to financial challenges.

The two sons, who are unable to survive independently, have to even wear diapers.

One of them is 23-year-old Shanaldo Goodwin, who was born a normal child, but later was diagnosed with scoliosis. He is also mentally challenged.

The other son is 16-year-old Travelle Vanriel, who is autistic and has been unable to speak since birth.

The mother told The Beacon: “I have to bathe them and dress them. Sometimes I have to feed them – especially the bigger one, or else he doesn’t eat. Sometimes they don’t even want what I prepare.”

She is emotionally drained. “I blame myself most of the times because sometimes I think it’s me why my sons are sick. Sometimes maybe I think they could get more help and I should do more. I do my best; I try to get help wherever I can, but I am a single mother with them from as long as I can remember. Emotionally, it hurts me so much in a way that most times I cry – especially at nights when they are sleeping.”

The mother is no longer employed, because she has to stay at home with her sons – especially since her mother got ill and eventually died.

“I worked for KFC for 10 years; I worked with a security company – my last job. I had to leave my job when my mother couldn’t manage to help with my sons anymore. She got sick and was bedridden. For seven years, I had to take care of her and my boys. I used to do a little buy-and-sell. But, each time I sell, I had to use back that money to take care of them – buy their pampers, buy their food and clothes. I used to have to live off handouts.”

The mother said a resident of Malvern in the parish – Vernon Kincaid – used to assist her in getting help – including a house – from Food For The Poor. However, that assistance is no longer forthcoming, because Mr. Kincaid died.

“Sometimes I feel like it is just me and my boys alone,” the mother told The Beacon.

She claimed that the fathers of her differently abled sons are deadbeats. One of them lives in Kingston; the other is employed to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

The mother, who got married just over a month ago, has another son who assists the family whenever he can. That son is 20-year-old Beshackeem Goodwin.

“Beshackeem is the one that is there. The situation affects him so much that I had to bring him to psychiatrist and counsellors most of the times when he was in school. Sometimes he breaks down and said he can’t take it anymore. It still affects him. My family support is not strong,” the mother added.

She said persons can assist her by donating via the National Commercial Bank. Her account number is: 894-050-306. Persons can also request her telephone number via The Beacon.

The mother, in the meantime, is not short of compassion for her children – and for other people. She is always willing to give a helping hand, especially to elderly people in her community.

She currently volunteers as caregiver for Camaleta Hines, who is an 80-year-old resident of Williamsfield.

She explained: “The elderly lady has one daughter, but her daughter is living in Kingston. She (the elderly woman) can hardly see, and so I just help out with her. She has her house, but she mostly stays at mine. I wash for her; I cook for her. I do it out of the goodness of my heart.”


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