After being kidnapped at sea and held captive in a Venezuelan forest for over a month, 17-year-old Kenrick Morgan has heightened his ambition to join the Coast Guard so that he can protect others from suffering the same fate.
Morgan, a student of the Moruga Secondary School, is expected to write this year’s CSEC examination. He said with piracy becoming more frequent and his experience as a victim, he wants to protect the nation’s borders. Although he has lost a whole month of classes, he said he will be pushing harder with his studies.
“I go to school still. I plan to go to school and see what I get. I wanted to come out an army man or a coast guard. I don’t think that might come through. I don’t know. I am praying. My family is praying, my mother is praying, everybody is praying,” Morgan said.
Morgan and his cousin Kendall Singh, 23, of Basse Terre Village, Moruga returned to Trinidad on Tuesday after their families negotiated with the captors for an exchange.
Morgan’s family paid US$700 in food supplies and US$1300 cash and a bucket of KFC. Singh’s family paid US$12,000, two televisions, two boxes of engine oil, a cell phone and a tablet.
It was a relief for the two families as the kidnappers had initially demanded US$40,000, then US$20,000 and five iPhones.
At Morgan’s home in Gran Chemin yesterday, his mother, Linda Boodoo burst into tears after weeks of intense prayers paid off.
Boodoo said during their detention, a photograph was sent to the family, showing Singh on the ground with a gun aimed at his head.
Her heart felt relieved for the first time since January 12 when Morgan and Singh left the Moruga shore along with a Venezuelan colleague to fish off the coast of Morne Diablo.
Morgan told reporters that six Venezuelan men approached in a high-speed fishing boat with guns aimed at them.
The gunmen ordered them to jump overboard. He said they pleaded with the gunmen because they would have surely drowned. The gunmen took them to their homeland through a river until they came upon a camp in Maturin.
“The experience was not good. It was very bad. I hardly ate, there was plenty mosquito and bad care. Sometimes we got something to eat in the morning and that was it for the whole day. They gave us arepa and some kind of dumpling. We were free in some bushes because they didn’t really business. All they wanted was some money. They had their house somewhere else and they just hid us in the bush so nobody could see us,” Morgan said.
There was no shower, toilets and the water they drank came from the river.
The trauma was so great that Morgan said he contemplated suicide, attempting to kill his captors and running away.
However, he kept praying and had faith that he would return home. One day, a boat approached and their captors told them to hide as it was bandits.
They ran some distance through the forest and attempted to escape, but Singh could not keep up. The kidnappers chased them on horses and they eventually surrendered.
During their detention, they were moved to several houses, ranches and camps along the river trail and were guarded by three men.
But with weeks going by and constant negotiation with Singh and Morgan’s family, the kidnappers realised they were not wealthy.
On Monday, the kidnappers dropped Morgan to a wrecked vessel between Venezuela and T&T. There, his uncle, Reynold Ramkhelawan and another man picked him up and left the money and food such as oil, flour, deodorant, toiletries and canned items.
They returned to Erin and he was taken for a medical check-up and it was found that his potassium level was low. He spent the night with his sister in Princes Town and went to the San Fernando General Hospital yesterday for treatment. Singh said he no longer likes fishing in the sea and his only interaction onward will be a beach bath.
Ramkhelewan, a fisherman said, approaching the wreck to pick up Morgan was a matter of life and death. Although he was wary that the kidnappers could have been there, armed with guns, he needed to bring his nephew home.
He said that fishing has become very dangerous, fishermen only knew how to fish and it is what they have to do to survive.
When Guardian Media visited Singh’s home, no one was there. However, his brother Peter, speaking by phone, said that his brother went for medical treatment for a swollen arm.