“Why isn’t mummy here?”
This is a question that often comes from the tiny lips of four-year-old Danielle Ramsoomair.
After overcoming medical challenges to bring T&T’s first triplets for 2014 into the world California couple—Arif Ali and Chantal Grant—are now faced with financial troubles as they raise their babies. The couple is today appealing for Government help to secure a home and obtain basic supplies for their children, as they are struggling to meet the demands of caring for triplets.
Yesterday Grant, 19, cuddled her babies on her bed in the stockroom-cum-bedroom of her in-laws’ home at Railway Road, California, where she and the babies have been staying since being discharged from the San Fernando General Hospital 13 days ago. The babies—Zafir, Zamir and Zareefa—were delivered by C-section a month early on February 26 at the hospital. They weighed 1.94 kg, 1.77 kg and 1.82 kg respectively at birth.
Grant became pregnant with the triplets last year after using prescription fertility drugs when doctors told her she had cysts in her ovaries and might not be able to have children. Yesterday Grant said the babies are doing well and growing fast but she admitted that she was worried about how the family of five would manage in their current surroundings.
Initially Grant and Ali were living in a makeshift room in his parents’ garage but when they found out she was having triplets, the family cleared out a stockroom and allowed the couple to live there with the babies. “The room we used to stay in was cramped. When I was pregnant the room was so small that my belly used to bump in the room. We were expecting one baby but when they tell we it was three they move us into the stockroom,” she said.
The room, which still has cupboards and shelves, contains the babies’ crib, which they share, a bed and a wardrobe. Grant said the couple needs some help to manage expenses. “I have a small room here and with babies growing fast soon we will have no place. We would like to get a house so we could care for them and they would be comfortable. “It has been very stressful for us. Arif works CEPEP and the little money he makes is used to buy (disposable diapers) and groceries,” she said.
Ali, in a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian, added: “We would like to get a house or at least somewhere we could call our own.” Grant said she was happy her babies were doing well and they were healthy. On Friday, she said, she would have to take the babies for their first clinic visit and she was worried about how she would manage to take them all.
She has no stroller for the babies, nor does she have any baby carrier. Her sister-in-law, Salana Ali-Ishmail, who helps Grant care for the babies before she goes to work, said she was taking time off to help Grant take the babies to hospital. “They are trying to cope. Knowing that she needs the help, we are there to help her. Even though we have busy schedules, we still make the effort to help her,” she said.
Ali-Ismail said the villagers ware happy for the couple and proud to have the first triplets for 2014 in their neighbourhood. Yesterday the T&T Guardian contacted Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh about the couple’s situation and he contacted Ali. In an interview yesterday afternoon, Ramadharsingh said he had congratulated the couple and assured them he would help.
“An officer will be visiting the family to assess their needs this afternoon or tomorrow (today) and we will be providing food support, as we did with the family of the first twins, who found themselves in a similar situation. We are ready to play a role in that we will bear the cost of their supplies under the food card support programme, which may help to give them that additional boost,” he said. He said the ministry would provide medical help, counselling and other forms of support to the couple.
Anyone willing to assist the couple can contact Ali at 348-0284 or Grant at 341-0414.