(Jamaica Observer) Eighteen-year-old Amelia Pitterson had only just made the down payment on a plot of land as a step closer to fulfilling a long-held dream of relocating her mother from the Train Line squatter settlement in Gregory Park, St Catherine to a proper home of their own.
Having studied many nights by the light of a cellphone to pass nine CXC subjects at age 16, ‘Chevel’, as she was affectionately called, was extremely excited at the prospect of beginning a business administration degree at the University of Technology (UTech) this September. She was convinced that only a proper education would break the chain of poverty for her family.
But Pitterson will never fulfil any of those dreams as her throat was savagely slit by an attacker in her one-bedroom board house in the Portmore community, only hours before she would have left for work at the Bank of Jamaica where she held an administrative position.
One neighbour said he heard a commotion in Pitterson’s room sometime after 2:00 am on Thursday, however he got no response when he shouted to her if everything was okay.
However, it was sometime after 7:00 am on Thursday when an older sister, who lives in one of two other houses in the yard, went to find out why Pitterson had not yet left for work and stumbled on the body clad only in a towel and underwear.
Yesterday, her mother Natalie White-Walker was left only with the many life lessons her daughter taught her and the motivating words that constantly brought tears to her eyes as she relived the memories of one she described as “my promising child”.
“She was a honest and positive child who always gave me hope when it seems hopeless,” White-Walker said with a blank stare. “She always say ‘Mammy, we can’t live like this for much longer. We have to move from here and I will have to be the one to break this poverty curse’.”
White-Walker recalled her daughter going to school many days without lunch money and studying by the light of a cellphone when they did not have any electricity.
“We used to walk and sell together and she used to say ‘Mammy, mi tired; you a go mek me shoes pop off, that is why me a go study hard that we don’t always have to do this’,” White-Walker recalled.
Having gained nine subjects, she said her daughter was initially employed at the BOJ for three months, but this was later extended to six months, then two additional years.
It was this determination and optimism which the Jonathan Grant High School past student imparted as she often encouraged her mother to excel at a hospitality management course she had started at UTech.
“She used to tell me how to answer the questions and teach me how to not have a mind block against Maths, and now she was so excited that it was her time to go to UTech, but now she can’t go,” she said, with the tears flowing.
The duo would constantly visit the Housing Agency of Jamaica to enquire about their chances of securing a plot of land and had received the good news last week, after several trips, that they had qualified for property in Burke’s Field, Old Harbour.
Having secured the down payment, White-Walker said Pitterson and her stepfather immediately went to work designing the family’s dream home.
“She draw the house and say she and her sister going to be over this side and me and her stepfather over the other side and she want me to have a little pastry shop out front,” she recalled.
However, Pitterson did not get a chance to visit the land, relying only on the pictures her mother captured on her cellphone.
On Thursday, stunned residents in this community gathered at the gate to Pitterson’s yard to lament the tragic end to the neighbourhood’s bright star who everyone described as a “good, decent and brilliant girl who did not allow the community men to become fresh with her”.
“I know she would come to be something great because I just see the height she was going, but I am so sorry she couldn’t reach it,” the mother said as she clung to her daughter’s pillow.
Many of the community children, who came by to look at the blood-stained floor, were often helped with their homework or taken to church by Pitterson.
“Right now, she have a School-Based Assessment Test that she helping a girl to work on because she was always like that — willing to help others,” the mother said.
White-Walker said when she went through the trauma of watching her son’s leg being amputated after being accidentally shot by the police, it was Pitterson who had given her hope.
“When me lock up in me house ah cry, she come in and say “get up Mammy, God ah God and Him won’t let him die’, and so she is always giving me hope and being there for me and I wasn’t there to help her,” she lamented.