Her Story Still Haunts Me

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Photo from Jamaica Gleaner

UPDATE (June 2, 2013): Since this blog post was first published on June 1, 2013, a follow up article was printed in The Sunday Gleaner on June 2, 2013.  It highlighted the efforts of former Office of the Children’s Advocate investigator, Ms. Gloria Thompson, to get assistance for Vanessa Wint.  Ms. Thompson stated:

“If I had acted otherwise, meaning if I had not done anything, that would have been inappropriate for someone working at the OCA that has a mandate to advocate for the rights and best interests of children.

“What is an aberration is allowing that child to die in that institution without making the necessary interventions to save her when it was within our power to do so.”

To Ms. Thompson I say this: THANK YOU for breaking protocol and going out of your way to let this child’s voice be heard. No one else listened, but you did. As much as process and procedure is necessary, in situations like this where there is a crisis, it CANNOT be business as usual. So thank you!

***

I’ve been putting off commenting on this since last Sunday, but the story still haunts me.  In last week’s Sunday Gleaner, the story was published about Vanessa Wint, the teenager who committed suicide while in the State’s care.

Her screams for help SHOULD still haunt us.  I read the story and wondered how nobody heard her.  Nobody listened.  It was as if the cell of her existence was made of soundproof glass.  The article stated that Vanessa “wrote to anyone and anywhere she thought she could get help”, but as Ms. Marlene McTaggart commented in the report, “…nobody did anything.  They sat on their hands…”

Was she not worth saving?  Was she not worth risking breaking protocol to reach out to her and get her the help she needed?  Was she not worth being bothered about?  Where and when were the efforts made to sit and listen to this child and help her?  WHY IN GOD’S NAME WERE HER SCREAMS IGNORED?!

Everyone has a story to tell.  We all walk around with our baggage.  We have our imperfections, our flaws, our scars…and how would we ever love to share the history behind each one.  Some stories aren’t meant to be bottled in.  The court deemed Vanessa uncontrollable.  This would be an attribution that she would have to live with as others see her through the lens of this label.  She wanted to tell her truth; to share her story.  Nobody stopped to listen.

But on November 21, 2012, Vanessa found a way to get everyone’s attention.

Her story still haunts me.  This apathy must end.

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3 Responses to Her Story Still Haunts Me

  1. petchary says:

    Very, very good piece, Durie Dee. It is so painful to think what she must have gone through, and no one wanted to hear. She was just a young girl. It must be burning on the consciences of those who did not listen or want to listen. But too late, now…

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