Single mother of two gets house for Valentine’s Day

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Jamaica – At just 32 years old, Marvette Douglas has seen more than her fair share of disappointments and trials. However, the single mother of two is now basking in a rare moment of joy as she continues to enjoy her Valentine’s Day gift – a new home for her family.
“Before, it was very bad. The house really deteriorated and was not fit for human habitation. I was there all my life… and that’s where I was with the children — the two-bedroom house — that was where everybody was,” Douglas told the Jamaica Observer as she described her old home.
Through help from the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Food For the Poor Jamaica and members of the Peckham community in Clarendon where Douglas resides, she was able to get the new home she needed.
“The new house has two rooms, a hall, a bathroom, and a kitchen and it’s very convenient. I feel much better. I feel happier and the children are happier. Even when daylight come, they can’t even get up because they say they feel so comfortable,” the farmer said during a telephone interview last Friday.
She expressed her gratitude to Food For the Poor and JAS, especially the agricultural society’s Marketing, Projects and Training Manager Janet Pullen, who Douglas explained reached out to Food For the Poor on her behalf.
Things have never been easy for the Clarendonian who had to singlehandedly take care of her mother as well as younger sister, both of whom are now dead.
According to Pullen, who met Douglas 12 years ago during her tenure as parish manager, it was Douglas’ humble and quiet determination to advance, in spite of her circumstances, that made her take an interest in her.
“It was at the very first workshop in the parish that I met her and when I saw her in the crowd I knew she was different. Everyone else in the room was rushing for the food, but she just stood aside and waited,” Pullen recalled.
“So I went over and offered her a lunch and spoke with her and she told me she graduated with four subjects but that ‘nutten nah gwaan fi me’,” she continued.
Pullen explained that she took Douglas’ phone number and details and later secured a training opportunity for the young woman with the National Youth Service. She later secured another training opportunity for Douglas, one which should’ve seen her matriculating to the College of Agriculture, Science and Education, but tragedy struck.
“Out a nowhere her mother died and her mother was an only child. Their father was absent and it was just her and her younger sister, who was in fourth form at the time. So she decided she wouldn’t go to college and I took them under my wing,” Pullen shared.
However, the family suffered another disappointing setback soon after. Douglas’ younger sister, Janet, fell ill and was soon confined to their home with Douglas playing the role of caregiver.
“If you talk about life being unfair, you can just look at how the ways of life have beaten them in all directions. Janet had secured nine CXC (Caribbean Examinations Council) subjects and wanted to do medicine, but in the second term in sixth form she fell ill and had to live at home for five years,” the JAS manager recalled.
Douglas recounted how her sister lost her ability to walk in the last three years of her life to an illness that doctors were unable to diagnose until it was too late, which resulted in Janet’s death.
Pullen said that in the face of it all, Douglas remained humble and tried her best to bounce back to take care of her two children — an effort Pullen explained she greatly admired.
“I signed her up to become a part of the JAS and so any project we had, I would try and help her through it. When I saw the house she living in, I said I had to find a way to get her a new house, so I wrote to Food For the Poor and started the process,” she said.
She said the process was a lengthy one but with the help of community members and JAS, she received the call last November that Douglas was granted the house.
“When Marvette called me and say them finish the house, she said to me, ‘me nah move in it until they come pray in it’ and that for me was the most moving part of the whole thing,” Pullen said.
On February 23, Douglas’ wish was granted and there was an official house opening with her pastor, community members and other well-wishers.
Pullen, who bought a bunk bed for the children as well as 100 chickens and farming inputs from the JAS, said she was once again blown away by the love the community members had for Douglas.
The first time she said she saw such a display of affection from the community member was at the funeral for the father of Douglas’ two children last year.
“The funeral had almost started and I didn’t see her and when I called to ask where she was, she told me she was on her way in public transportation and I was upset initially, because I said to her ‘why didn’t you tell me so I could come pick you up’,” Pullen recounted.
“She couldn’t afford to charter a taxi or another vehicle but in all weh she was going through, about 10 people from the community came with her and to me that said a lot. Even afterwards, when it over, they all squeezed in my pickup without any complaints and went to the graveside and back again,” she added.
Pullen noted that the community’s support and positive comments at the house opening helped to show that despite the hardships she faced, Douglas never lowered her standards and always remained willing and kind.
Although she has received some well-needed help, the mother of two is still facing some immediate challenges as her seven-year-old son is struggling with an eye condition that requires he makes frequent visits to the ophthalmologist.
Douglas also shared that while she farms and is grateful for the new inputs she has received, it often takes time to start seeing the returns.
She stated that she has been looking for a job since 2008, after she successfully completed a six-month course as a certified psychiatric aide, where she was trained to assist mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed patients, working under direction of nursing and medical staff.
However, the lack of job prospects have not daunted the 32-year-old as she is currently completing a one-year nursing course at the National College of Professional Studies, which she started last September. She also said she topped the class for one of the courses she completed last semester.
“It’s going fine and I have been getting good grades so far, and I hope I will get something in the nursing field this time around. I’m trying my best. I’m coming from far with some difficult circumstances and some people would have given up, but I never give up, I believe I can get there,” Douglas said.

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