Staceyann Mullings, who is employed as a waitress in Negril, has been serving nothing but love to the children in and around her rural community of Camp Savannah, Westmoreland.
She is now the full-time guardian of a child whose close relatives – including parents – have been slaughtered.
The boy, now six years old, was the only one spared when gunmen unleashed terror by night.
The massacre still affects him deeply – causing him to undergo weekly counselling at school.
Staceyann told The Beacon that it is sometimes tough to raise a child emotionally scarred. She, however, is in it for the long haul.
“The child’s grandmother wasn’t able to take care of him, and so I decided to take up the role and give him a better life,” Staceyann said.
“A child like this is emotionally scarred. So, it takes a lot to go through with him. Taking care of him otherwise is quite alright; I don’t find that difficult.”
While pledging to be the best guardian possible, Staceyann lamented that too many children around her – especially boys – lack proper guidance and often end up in gangs.
To make a difference, she has been doing her part in her neck of the woods; not just in her household.
Staceyann hosts a number of back-to-school treats.
Her meagre wages are sometimes expended on ensuring that children attend school.
“I realize that a lot of children here are below where they should be as far as education is concerned, and a lot of them end up in gangs. I believe that one person can make a difference. If you help the parents, they will find it as motivation to help themselves,” Staceyann said.
She continued: “As a waitress, I started asking people to, instead of giving me a gift, bring me school supplies and baby clothes. That’s what I do – along with money from my own pockets – to help families out.”
Staceyann, who lost a baby this year, explained that her love especially for children is rooted in her childhood struggles.
She said her father did not support her, and so her mother Angella Miller had to eke out a living under dirt-poor conditions.
“My mother would cry at nights because she could not afford things for us, and she would smile in the morning so that we wouldn’t cry,” Staceyann recalled.
“I decided to help others who are in a similar position to that under which I grew up.”
In the meantime, the child under Staceyann’s guardianship, expressed gratitude for the benevolence dished out to him daily.
“I love Aunty Stacey very much,” he boldly told The Beacon, adding that he wants to become a soldier.
That dream is not far-fetched, considering that the child is proving to be a little scholar. For example, give him a word to spell; he breaks it down in syllables and…your guess is as good as mine.
By Horace Mills, Journalist; B.A. degree in Media and Communications; CARIMAC, University of the West Indies
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