Front Page
December 22, 2006



Christmas was saved for a poverty stricken family of nine as the staff of the Searchlight Newspaper decided to reach out and touch with hands of love.

“No one person or company could effectively deal with poverty but we just wanted to do our part to make at least this Christmas joyful for one family,” said Clare Keizer, CEO of Interactive Media, publishers of Searchlight Newspaper.{{more}}

Overflowing with desperation, beaten by tidal waves of poverty, 41 year old Mavis Edwards was hoping that she could give her children a tomorrow that will be brighter than any she has ever had or at least a good Christmas.

Christmas for her has never been a time of plenty, rather a time when she walked, begged , reasoning that the bread baskets of others would move them to throw a little her way; her children’s way.

A suggestion by a staff member at Searchlight’s weekly staff meeting, last Friday, triggered the effort where the company matched monies donated by the staff.

At the end of the campaign a box of groceries, and gifts for Mavis and each of her children were delivered to their Lowmans Leeward residence last Wednesday. A monetary gift was also given to her.

“We are happy to have done our part, this is the spirit of Christmas, and I am proud of our staff because they gave generously to the cause,” said Keizer.

Mavis Edwards moved to Lowmans Leeward from Rose Hall with her mother and father when she was five years old. She was irregular at school and as she said; “I wasn’t really bright.”

“Mummy had eleven children so sometimes I had to stay at home to help out,” she recalled.

At 19 she thought things were looking up when she moved to Kingstown Park with her then boyfriend and had the first three of her eight children but he was a gambling addict, and whatever his best intentions might have been, the addiction ate away much of his potential. While Mavis was pregnant with her third child he went away but would send back money to support them but alas his gambling demon quickly froze that up.

“I couldn’t get along with his relatives when he left, so I had to go back home by my mother,” Mavis said, as she tried to maintain her composure as she barked orders at a few of her young ones who constantly interrupted the interview to voice one complaint or the other.

“Every time I take up someone to help me I end up making more children,” explained Mavis.

The end result of her search for her knight in shining armor is eight children, aged 18 to one year old, with five different men. A couple of them give the occasional $50 or $100 but not consistently enough to be remotely called support.

Her quick temper does not help her cause because the few low end jobs that she was able to muster ended disastrously.

“I am a May born so I does lose control,” was the lame explanation to the lack of discipline she had shown, adding to her bleak existence.

Today Mavis walks and begs.

“I prefer to walk and beg than to steal,” she reasoned.

She told SEARCHLIGHT that at times the shame and pain of poverty gets to her and she feels like she is going mad.

Ironically, the children have become her strength, her reason for living.

“I am only living because of my children, if wasn’t for them…,” Mavis said her voice trailing, the sentence was unfinished but there was a clear sign of resignation painted her face.

Her eldest child is a boy while her last is another boy, who at one year old, is already being seasoned into the life of deep poverty.

Mavis said that it is unbearable for her to see her children hungry for days. She remembered having to rush her eldest daughter to hospital because she had gone days without eating a bite.

“She is in secondary school, and it is tough on her,” Mavis said.

That child now receives assistance from a donor fund at her school.

After days filled with hunger Mavis told SEARCHLIGHT that the nights did not offer much respite.

Some sleep on towels, others on the bare floor and the rest on a piece of sponge. The small room, down stairs her mother’s house, is all that they have.

Albina, Mavis’ mother, told SEARCHLIGHT that she feels sorry for her daughter and wishes life was different for her.

She said that some of her 11 children, including Mavis, did not get to go to school regularly because she and her husband could not afford it.

“My husband and I tried but life was hard, we did the best that we could,” Albina said.

She said that when she sees Mavis and her other children struggling to make it through life she feels ashamed.

She does her part; her modest three bedroom house is refuge to 19 including Mavis and her children, who are packed like sardines in the room downstairs.

“If we could at least get a good piece of sponge to sleep on and a couple pieces for them to spread on the ground I will be happy,” Mavis said.

Mavis said that she is grateful for the assistance that she has been getting from the Social Welfare department, but her needs are so much more than they could help her with.

A social welfare officer called Mavis’ situation “a desperate and sad one.”