After a lifetime without any ID, birth certificates, or access to government service, Samantha Persad has received help from the public and state agencies to progress in life and give her children a happy Christmas.
Her story was published in the Newsday on November 22 and was shared many times online.
Persad said, "So far the response from the public is very great. I getting through with the birth certificates and stuff. Everything working out good in Jesus' name."
Persad, the single mother of five children, all below ten, was unable to register their births because her own birth was never registered. In 34 years, she has never had ID or access to social welfare or family-planning services.
She has three boys – aged four, two and one, whose father left her almost two months ago. He was the sole breadwinner and during their eight-year relationship, she said, he prevented her from working.
Persad has an autistic daughter, eight, who is non-verbal, and her eldest daughter, nine, lives with her father.
Persad and her four other children live in a small board house near Ravine Sable Road, Longdenville, which she rents for $500 a month. But there is no indoor toilet or shower, and the roof leaks whenever it rains. They share two beds, which get wet when the rain comes from a particular direction.
When the first story about her was published, Persad's main goal was acquiring birth certificates so she could apply for social welfare and enrol her children in school and she could get a job. Since then, she has received calls from ministries and the public with promises of assistance and some deliveries.
Official help has been slower to materialise. Contacted on Thursday, Persad said she was expecting a call from the Ministry of Legal Affairs about the birth certificates that afternoon.
The Housing Development Corporation (HDC) has told Persad it was looking at relocating the family, but the process would not be completed until the new year. Social Welfare was still waiting for her to get an ID card before it could help.
But otherwise, she said: "I have been getting everything – groceries, hampers, things for them kids, myself – but the onliest thing is the money for the rent."
Persad said she received hampers from 12 people and continues to get calls and donations at weekends.
She was very happy for her children and the promises that they would have Christmas gifts.
"Everybody have that in a order to help me before Christmas, so I real looking forward to that, for them."
Thanks to the hampers they have received, Persad said, the children were "excited, happy. They didn't know what to do."
Since their story was published, Persad has not heard from the father of her three boys, but the girls' father, she said, "was amazed about the help I was getting.
"When I tell you, I am totally grateful for all the help so far."
Anyone who wants to help Samantha Persad and her family can contact her at 274-2483.