By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Children are totally dependent on their guardians to provide for them, in all areas possible and when this is not done, they grow up believing that the world is a cruel place where no one cares for them and human beings should not be trusted.
How many of you would take an abandoned child and care for him/her as your own? Would you make the necessary sacrifices to ensure that they feel loved and protected?
Well the Camal’s International Home for the Homeless at Kilcoy Road, Coretyne Berbice is currently caring for 35 children, most of them abandoned by their parents.
The eldest is a 25 – year – old female and the youngest being two boys, both two – years – old.
I recently made an unexpected visit to the Home and spoke to the owner, Carmen Kissoon and some of the children who were all very welcoming. I wanted to get an understanding as to why some parents abandoned their children, move on with their lives, reproduce, but care for that set and live like nothing ever happened.
I realized how selfish some parents are, because the stories of abandonment I heard from the children broke my heart. Can you imagine being dumped in an orphanage by both your parents with no explanation?
During my tour of the Camal’s Home, I observed that the children call the owner ‘Grandma’ and seemed very fond of her. The Home was well kept, filled with lots of toys, food to eat and clothes to wear.
The children were gentle and behaved like any ordinary child would; the only difference is that they are left with emotional, psychological and in some cases physical scars that they have to live with for the rest of their lives.
I spoke with 18 – year – old Debra Samay, who has been living at the Home since she was 11 – years – old. She was taken there by a Probation Officer.
Debra’s world fell apart after her mother was imprisoned. She and her siblings were split up and placed in different Homes.
Debra is a devoted Christian and will be getting married next February to a young Pastor. She says that her dream is to teach young children in Sunday school about Jesus Christ.
One may think that she would be too bitter and angry at her family for abandoning her, but the young woman says she is too busy serving Christ to be bitter.
She admitted that she misses home and her family sometimes, but she has accepted where life has taken her.
Meanwhile, 16 – year -old Florence Jones also shared her story. She explained that she and her three siblings were brought to the Camal’s Home seven years ago by her father. According to Florence, her elderly father made the decision to leave them there after their mother left in search of a job in the interior.
She said her father, who is now in his 80s, told the owner of the Home that he was too old to care for his children.
Sadly, the four siblings could not stay together and were separated. Florence attends school and goes to Church regularly. She said her parents would visit her once yearly but they never offered to take her home.
She said even if they did, she would never go.
The Camal’s Home
The 76 – year – old owner of the Home was inspired to build a structure for the homeless 17 years ago, after she visited Guyana and saw many children sleeping on the pavement and begging.
She returned to Canada where her entire family resides and told them of her plans.
“So I said I am coming back to Guyana, so my husband said I am crazy, so I came back and I bought this land and start a small building and we start to help the little kids and battered women, homeless people.”
Mrs. Kissoon said she came back in 1992 and started to work on her plan, however, in 1996 her husband passed away but one year later her Orphanage was officially opened.
Like any venture, the beginning was a challenge, however, as time went by help started to pour in and more children had a roof over their head and clothes on their back.
Currently, the Home is financed by the support of individuals in and out of Guyana and various organizations. Government gives $100,000 per year.
Kissoon explained that it is the policy of the Orphanage not to keep boys beyond the age of 14.
“We find their family or ask probation to search family for them…we have too many girls and we are scared if anyone should get pregnant or sexually abused and things like that, we are very scared of that,” Kissoon explained.
Last November, while she was in Canada, three girls ran away from the Home and according to Kissoon, they were influenced by a 15 – year – old who once stayed at the Home.
This incident, she said, has affected the reputation of the Home. Kissoon is a mother of six children with 22 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren who are all residing in Canada.
The stories of how some of the children ended up at the home are many, according to her.
“Some of their mothers run away, some of their fathers are alcoholics, some of them just abandon them in the street, some of them parents beat them.”
The children are allowed to practice their religion and they are not deprived of anything, according to Kissoon.
In tears, she said, it is important that everyone knows the truth and spoke of her love for the children she is caring for.
“I want the community to know that all this false accusations, they are not true, I love these children and I take care of these children, and I wouldn’t hurt them or starve them or do them all these things that people are saying.
If you would like to make a difference in the lives of these children and help the home to continue to serve those in need, you can call telephone number 592 – 322 – 0374.