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Community cop in ‘rescue’ drive

News - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 00:28

Pregnant Naomi Marquis and her husband Damian have been living in their car for the past six weeks after falling on hard times.

The couple was discovered living out of their Kia car at Balgobin Trace, Tunapuna, on Tuesday by WPC Crystal Jumadeen, a Cunupia community officer, prompting her to jump into action to assist.

Jumadeen and her colleague PC Vikash Harrinanan went to great lengths to find a rent-free apartment in Chaguanas which the couple will be soon moving into.

Naomi, who is five months pregnant with her second child, broke down in tears several times on Friday, as she related how their lives changed after becoming jobless.

Up to last year, the couple had lived comfortably with their three sons, ages 16, 13 and six, at a Cunupia apartment.

The two eldest boys are Damian’s children from a previous relationship.

Days after finding out she was pregnant Naomi’s life came crashing down after she was retrenched as a casino worker.

Not long after, Damian, 34, who worked as a security guard and bartender at an establishment, was laid off.

After losing their jobs the couple gave up their apartment and moved in with relatives in Freeport.

“The little savings we had in our accounts began to dwindle. We also had to sell one of our two cars valued at $18,000 for $4,000 when desperation set in. All this time we kept sending out resumes but got no response. Also, Damian was using his car to run PH but it could not settle our bills, buy food and pay our monthly car instalment,” Naomi told the T&T Guardian.

With little money coming in and five mouths to feed, Naomi said tension began to build and they had to flee the relative’s home.

Naomi, 29, and her son then moved into the home of another family member while Damian stayed at a friend’s house.

The mother of the two boys welcomed them into her home.

“We were no longer a family. Everyone went their separate ways which tore us to pieces. From a happy family, our lives were shattered in a matter of weeks,” Naomi said, as tears welled in her eyes.

Naomi then again found herself in the same situation.

“The pressures started to build at the relative’s home and I had no choice but to leave. I was fed up of complaints. I had become a burden to them. That’s when I decided to move into the car with my son and husband. It was a tough decision but I felt this was the best choice for us to be together. We packed our worldly belongings in the trunk and decided to fight up on our own.”

On the first night, they parked the car in front of Scotiabank in Cunupia.

“We decided to sleep there because the bank has a security camera outside just in case bandits attacked us it would be recorded. That night our son cried because inside the car was too hot as the air condition was not working. We had to drive around with the windows down to get some breeze. It was a restless and a scary night for all of us,” she recalled.

Damian said he approached the mother of his two sons who offered to keep their son while they continued to live in the car.

“We used to sleep in the car park at Price Plaza where it was safe. Naomi would sleep on the back seat while I would throw an eye out. It has not been easy for us, especially for Naomi, who is carrying our baby.

It has been stressful. Many nights she cried in the car just thinking of the happy and enjoyable life we shared months before.”

The couple spent their days hanging out at malls. Damian said he never expected their lives to turn upside down.

“I feel so helpless and hopeless. It’s as if all the odds are stacked against us. It’s not that we have not tried to get jobs… just the responses have been far and few between. Those who have responded want to exploit you for small money,” the father of three said.

Recently, one of Naomi’s friends who heard about their plight came to her rescue by allowing them to stay at her father’s congested home in Tunapuna during the day, where they can wash their clothes, shower and have a meal.

“We no longer go to Price Plaza to sleep. We have been parking the car in the yard of this home to sleep,” Damian said.

Having spent the last six months running from pillar to post, a relative has since offered the couple a piece of land in Freeport where Habitat for Humanity will provide $24,000 in building materials so they can erect a home.

Jumadeen said after she met the couple she went to Habitat for Humanity seeking help for them. She said having since screened them their application for help was being processed, which may take from a few weeks to a few months.

“I started looking around for a place for the family to live in. Luckily, someone offered them free lodging at an apartment in Chaguanas until their home is constructed. My heart sunk when I heard about Naomi’s struggles and suffering. I was brought close to tears after hearing what she has been going through as a pregnant woman. I felt compelled to assist,” Jumadeen told the T&T Guardian.

Jumadeen has also dipped into her pocket to buy foodstuff for the family so they would have something to eat when they move into their apartment shortly.

“I am also trying to get Damian a job so they can get back on their feet,” Jumadeen said.

Naomi admitted she always saw the police as being rogue elements, abusive and corrupt but Jumadeen has changed her perception.

“Officer Jumadeen has showed me that among the bad apples there are good and caring officers in the service. I can’t stop thanking her for all that she has done. She is one in a million,” Naomi said.

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