The Ministry of Human Services & Social Security removed 10-year-old Anita Pooranmal and her three younger siblings whom she had to care for from their Pine Ground, Mahaicony Creek home yesterday.
Relatives told Stabroek News that the team from the ministry swooped on the home at around 10 am and told their father Gupta Pooranmal that Minister Priya Manickchand had sent for them.
This newspaper had reported that 10-year-old Anita Pooranmal had to tend to her siblings, Sanjay called Radesh, 9, Ritesha, 8, and Avinash, 7 after their mother, 22-year-old Ann Rosita Boodhoo left them one year ago to escape from her alcoholic and abusive husband.
Though reluctant, the father got the children dressed while relatives helped to comb their hair to send them away with the staff from the ministry. Yesterday, their mother told Stabroek News that she preferred the children to be in the custody of the ministry than having to suffer in the creek.
Relatives said the older children, were happy to go as they understood that it was for their “betterment.”
However Avinash was scared and started to cry; he thought that the officers were police.
This newspaper was told that the officers asked for the birth certificates and Gupta provided them with the documents for three children.
The father was told to go to Georgetown today along with his uncle, Kesarchandra Kawal to meet with officials from the ministry.
When this newspaper contacted the Minister of Human Services and Social Security yesterday she confirmed that the children had been taken out of the creek and said they cannot leave them in that environment while an assessment is being done.
“We have removed the children,” Manickchand said. “And we will be conducting an assessment to decide what the best thing is for the children.”
Manickchand further explained that the children will undergo the usual ministry procedures that are conducted on minors who are removed from potentially dangerous situations. Medical assessment and counselling sessions are among these procedures, she said.
She had told Stabroek News on Monday that she did not know about the children’s plight before as it only came to her attention through this newspaper. She had promised to act on the case and said that a team from her ministry would be sent into the creek.
The minister had said that it is preferable not to take the children away from their home as the orphanage is not the best place for them. She had said too that the help from the ministry could be coordinated with other persons.
Kawal had given this newspaper his numbers for persons to contact him in case they wanted to help the children. Yesterday he said a woman from America called and promised to provide assistance.
Gupta cried as the children were being taken away and joined the boat for a “lift” out of the creek to visit other relatives. He commented that his uncle, Sewsankar “put the children in the papers and mek them get tek away.”
Sewsankar was instrumental getting help for the children and had highlighted their plight to this newspaper. He said he cared for the children and were sad to see them suffering like that. He said Gupta had stopped talking to him because of his intervention on the children’s behalf. He was even told to mind his own business.
He said he and other relatives would be sorry for the children and give them food but at the moment they too were struggling and could hardly make ends meet because of the flood situation in the area.
Besides, he had said, when Gupta, who catches fish and birds for a living knew the children were being taken care of he would behave more irresponsibly.
The children would be left without food for a few days when the father would go away to hunt or drink.
Anita said too that on the days when there was no food she would pick lime-leaf from a neighbour’s tree and boil them to make a tea. She would then serve it to them without milk and sugar.
Sewsankar had said too, ““What dem children this pass through, me na think a dog ever pass through. When dem don’t get food, dem does bear them chafe in that house.”