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Parents and sextuplets get new home

By MIRANDA LA ROSE Saturday, May 4 2013

click on pic to zoom in
HOUSE KEYS: Parents of the country's first sextuplets Kieron Cummings, second from left, and Petra Lee Foon, left, were presented with the keys to an ...
HOUSE KEYS: Parents of the country's first sextuplets Kieron Cummings, second from left, and Petra Lee Foon, left, were presented with the keys to an ...

Housing Minister, Dr Roodal Moonilal, yesterday appealed to the “voluntary sector” to assist the parents of Trinidad and Tobago’s first sextuplets.

He made the appeal when he handed the parents the keys to a single three-bedroom family unit at Edinburgh South, Chaguanas.

“Providing them with a house is not the end of it all,” Moonilal said at a simple presentation of keys ceremony at the head office of the Housing Development Corporation in Port-of-Spain. The estimated cost of the unit is $375,000.

Today also marks two months since the babies — three boys and three girls — were delivered by Caesarian Section at the Mount Hope Women’s hospital. Four of the six babies have survived. According to Moonilal the parents, Kieron Cummings and Petra Lee Foon, will be given the unit on a licence to occupy (LTO) basis initially, after which all procedures will be in place for full purchase.

“This family like other families when housing is provided, Moonilal said “will have other needs for enhancing their home, monthly payments as the case may be.

“In this situation there are several other demands on a family like this for the necessary provisions for the home. They will need much more help. That help we hope, will be forthcoming.” The LTO and the procedures to be put in place for full purchase would be done in collaboration with the family. “We will try to get that as flexible as can be, so that the family,” Moonilal said, “will not have that heavy financial burden, given other demands a family like this would have.”

At the HDC, Moonilal said, “we will try to do our very best to see how we could assist. Families like these and others require assistance. We hope the voluntary corporate sector could support.” In providing the housing unit, the Housing Ministry, Moonilal said, “considered this development to be quite urgent, given the status of the young couple, and the immediate requirement to provide for a much larger family than may have first been anticipated.”

He noted the media’s role in highlighting the need for housing for the young family.

After the birth of the babies in March, Cummings at a press conference was asked about his housing situation in light of the birth of the sextuplets. Housing was a high priority, he had said admitting that Lee Foon and himself had been planning a life together, and had jointly applied for HDC housing some two to three years before.

Newsday understands that once the story broke, Moonilal called on the HDC to pull the file with the application. He subsequently met with Cummings and discussed some of the needs of the family particularly as it related to housing.

“We directed the HDC to assist as best as they can,” Moonilal said yesterday.

“These matters are matters which the HDC would exercise some sort of discretion,” he said. “There is no policy template that provides for this, but we meet and treat with families throughout Trinidad on the basis of needs, emergencies.”

On April 4 last, Cummings and Lee Foon were interviewed by the HDC and approval granted about a week later.

HDC Managing Director told Newsday following the approval, once the two had agreed to the HDC’s offer they would receive the keys to the house late April/early May. They did.

In brief remarks Lee Foon thanked the ministry and the HDC for accommodating them in the housing process. “We are truly, truly appreciative of it,” she said.

Cummings also said, “We are very happy to be granted this opportunity to be a first-time home owner. Thanks to the HDC and the government itself.”

Asked how soon they would be able to move into their new home, Cummings said that as soon as they could make the house habitable as they have to cater to the needs of the four surviving babies. “We have to make the place accommodating for everybody,” he said.

Since the discharge of Lee Foon from the women’s hospital, Cummings, who lived with his parents in Arima, has been accommodated at the Lee Foons where some adjustments to their family home had been made to also accommodate the babies. Three of the babies - the second third and fourth born - are also at home in Chaguanas.

Lee Foon said, “The three babies at home are doing well. They are feeding and gaining weight.”

The fifth born, Persia Meleigh, still remains warded in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit of the Mount Hope Women’s Hospital.

According to Lee Foon, “Persia is still in the hospital in ICU. We are still hoping and praying that she comes out of hospital very soon. She’s coming along.”

On Monday Persia gave the doctors and nurses tending to her, a scare when she developed rapid breathing. She has since been stabilised, and is feeding orally.

The first born Kaelon, who was critically ill from birth never recovered and died on March 30. The sixth born Paeton, died on April 17.

Asked if they had been receiving other support, Cummings said they had been getting mainly from family members, and close friends, and a few people have been coming forward to help. “We are grateful for that,” he said. “We try as best as we could.”

Among those who have assisted the Lee Foons are David and Lily Shaffial of LUAX Woodworking in Marabella. They built and donated two cribs with dividers for six babies and Twinkle Start Baby Store in Tunapuna which gave them gift vouchers and hampers.

A number of persons, Lee Foon noted, “have asked us to present an account number, so that they can contribute.” An account has been opened at First Citizens Bank. The Account No. is 1959622.



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