Homeless and heartbroken, mother-of-three Karlene Moore is struggling to make ends meet.
After failed relationships and a less than supportive family, Moore had no one to turn to when her life took a sharp turn for the worse.
She and her three children, ages 14, eight, and eight months, have been living in a stockroom at Vendors Mall, Chaguanas, for the past five months.
The cramped living conditions were too much for the father of Moore’s eight-month-old baby, who subsequently left her a month ago.
The family of four stays in a 10x12 room with no running water or lights.
To use the bathroom, they often go to a nearby fast food outlet. And late at night, the family waits until there is no one around to take a bath at a standpipe located on the compound.
“The only thing that keeps me going are my children,” she said. “Every day I wake up I try not to cry. I try to stay strong for my children.
“Things have not always been this dire,” Moore said.
“There were better times...I was staying by my aunt, I had my own car and trying to support my family. Things went downhill June last year, two months into my pregnancy with my last child, I started bleeding. I could no longer work. The bank took back the car because I could no longer make the payments. After that I lived off my savings as I went up and down in the hospital. A week before I gave birth to my son, my aunt told me I had to move out. Her children wanted to come back home to live, so I had no other choice but to move,” she said.
According to Moore, she does not have a good relationship with her relatives, and apart from her aunt, she has not spoken to her family for several years.
She is currently a temporary cleaner at Licensing Office, Port of Spain, and has held the position since 2007. She previously worked as a clerk at Ministry of Legal Affairs.
The mother of three is crying out for a place to call home.
“My daughter is a preemie (premature baby), I was up and down in the hospital. I have also been back and forth with NIS (National Insurance) since I have not been paid during my maternity leave. I just need a place for my kids. I have gone through my savings, there is nothing left. All I need is some help,” she said.
Moore said she went to the Ministry of Social Development for assistance to no avail.
“Given my monthly salary they advised me to apply for a HDC home,” she said.
With no idea how long that would take, Moore said with her salary, she got two booths at Vendors Mall, Chaguanas.
“They were down for quite some time. One, my children and I live in, and the other I sell drinks and snacks to provide for my family,” she said.
For the mother of three, the new school term started off rough. She was only able to get her 14-year-old son to school. Her eight-year old-daughter she kept at home because she did not have the money to buy all her school supplies.
Not having a place to live and the safety of her family is a constant worry for Moore.
She is calling on all the relevant authorities to hear her plight and render some assistance.
Moore said it has been an extremely tough year for her family, and she just wants to make things better for her children.
“It is easy to judge someone when you sit on the side lines, but before you do, take a moment to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” she said.