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by Emmanuel Joseph
4 min read

Mother of seven to be relocated from century-old dilapidated house

By Emmanuel Joseph

The Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs has come to the rescue of a 34-year-old mother and her seven children who were living in squalor.

Their assistance has come just in time as the century-old dilapidated wooden house which has been home to Jackqulin Cox and her children – ages 14, 13,12,11,10, 5 and 4 – floods whenever it rains, is shifting off its foundation and is sinking at its rear.

Ministry officials became aware of their plight from a Facebook post by the Errol Griffith-led Neighbour Neighbour charity. The family is to be relocated as early as this weekend to make way for the Urban Development Commission (UDC) to rebuild the structure which has been home to nine generations of Cox’s family.

“My kids are excited. They say ‘yeah, we get to go somewhere new’. My autistic daughter looked at me and she was like, ‘so when the rain falls, there will be no water under our head?’ I said ‘no honey’, because their room leaks and when it rains they can’t use the bed, so everybody has to huddle on one bed,” she told Barbados TODAY during an interview inside her home where there were gaping holes in the roof and floor.

Cox was full of praise for the officers in the Ministry of People Empowerment for giving her hope, despite the way in which she was treated by one officer of the Welfare Department.

“I was honestly beginning to lose hope. I was telling myself that this would be what my kids would have to endure,” said the mother who spoke repeatedly of her love and commitment to her children.

She said the house was not always in that condition, but it had deteriorated over the years and her mother, who died in 2001, had made several attempts to get assistance.

“This house is actually 103 years old next month. I was literally born on the step outside the house. You know, you hit teenage [years] and you want to go and explore, then you eventually come home. I actually came back home because my mom got sick. Since then, I have been here for 14 years moving back home. Our house wasn’t always like this. It wasn’t the newest house, even when I was born, but it was never as bad as this.

“The earliest times I could remember of my mom, she was always trying to get someone to do something with the house. She went to countless organisations. She once went to NHC [National Housing Corporation] for a house. I was about nine, and believe it or not, when I turned 31, they told her to come for the house,” recalled Cox, adding that, unfortunately, her mother died before she could sign the NHC papers to get the house.

As she spoke to Barbados TODAY, five of her children intermittently peered curiously from behind a curtain.

The other two – the youngest – are staying with their father at the moment. Cox described the father of the remaining five as non-existent.

Even as a housing solution is right around the corner, Cox still faces another significant challenge – getting a job to be able to feed her children.

“I would like to get a job; something sustainable that I can keep my family fed. No one wants to hear ‘Mommy, I am hungry’. That’s one of the worst things you can hear in the world, and I hear it four or five times a day. It’s not right. Sometimes I have to go hungry so they could eat. Sometimes there is nothing to eat,” said Cox who has customer service certification, Grade 1s in CXC English and Biology and a Grade 3 in Mathematics.

The last time she worked was five years ago at a security firm, but she said she was forced to quit because she was being paid late or not at all.

Since then, Cox said has been rejected by employers because of her eczema rash which she is triggered by stress or heat, and she has turned down one job offer because it was conditioned on sexual favours.

Describing herself as tenacious, highly intelligent and one who does not take shortcuts, she said all she wants is an employer who will not judge her because of her skin condition but will instead “take a chance on me for my academic and people’s skills”.

Cox, who is also computer literate, was adamant that once she is employed again and can get back on her feet financially, she intends to pursue a law degree.


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