Wed | Jul 15, 2020

Hell for Heaven! - Elderly woman rues deaths of two sons months apart 11 years ago

Published:Wednesday | May 27, 2020 | 12:20 AM
Shelly-Ann Lawson Francis (left), executive director of Council of Voluntary Social Services, delivers a care package to Carmen Heaven of Zambia, St Catherine, last Saturday as part of the PSOJ’s COVID-19 food distribution programme.
Shelly-Ann Lawson Francis (left), executive director of Council of Voluntary Social Services, delivers a care package to Carmen Heaven of Zambia, St Catherine, last Saturday as part of the PSOJ’s COVID-19 food distribution programme.

For 72-year-old Carmel Heaven, things are a far cry from the days when Jermaine Spence, her customs broker son, was completing a construction project at her home in Zambia, St Catherine, with the promise of a better future.

Zambia is located on the outskirts of the gritty hillside community of Windsor Heights in Central Village.

Employed as a day’s worker, Heaven had managed to raise two sons – the other a taxi driver – and was enjoying some level of comfort when she lost both in less than a year.

“Gunmen kill me two boys,” she said on Saturday after receiving a care package from the PSOJ Jamaica COVID-19 Response Fund. “I raise up two boys and gunmen shot them eight months apart, 11 years ago.”

Her customs broker son was on his way home with a million dollars in cash when he was shot dead by gunmen.

NEVER FOUND

Heaven was still grieving when her other son, Damion Petgrave, went missing. He is presumed dead, as neither his body nor the car has ever been found.

Since then, life has been very hard for the senior citizen, who says she benefits from the kindness of community members who check on her regularly. She admits being a regular visitor to the St Jago Health Centre where the staff show particular concern about her mental health.

Diabetic and hypertensive, Heaven admits to being stressed at times but tries to keep her mind occupied on other issues as a buffer to the painful memories.

Recently, that has not been easy. With the Jamaica Public Service changing out her meter to an automated one, her electricity bill has jumped to $8,000, which she believes is unrealistic.

“It look like me soon haffi go walk and tell them say fi take it out a mi yard because $8,000 fi one likkle fridge and one likkle TV?”

With no pension and unable to find work, Heaven is grateful to be on the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education but admits it is inadequate.

“Me and you know say it can’t pay light bill and water rate,” she said. “I need much more help than this.”

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com