From Trinidad and Tobago: Stories of Broken Homes and Second Chances

Vishnu Perai and Dave Matthew spent their adolescent years at a community residence in Trinidad and Tobago.

They shared a home and a bond and while their stories are somewhat similar, one found a family, the other grew up and left.

Both had families of their own before they were placed in the Rainbow Rescue community residence. But as they recounted how they ended up at the residence, there was little regret.

“Like every other kid, I didn’t have an ideal start-up and then I moved to my aunt’s, it wasn’t the best place to live and one day I decided I had enough, I wanted a better life so I ran away,” Perai, 21, recounted with a wry smile on his face. “Some police picked me up and put me there and I just remained there.”

Matthew was a bit more hesitant and spoke as if he was measuring each word. Matthew’s story is about abuse and abandonment.

“Mine is a kind of long story, I was in a family where my father was abusive to my mother and one day she decided to leave and while at her sister’s home he called and threatened to kill her if she didn’t come back home,” the 26 year old said, as he frequently turned his eyes to the sky as if forcing himself to remember a repressed memory. “In 2006, just about three weeks before SEA, social workers and police took me and my siblings from school and I ended up at Rainbow Rescue while my two sisters and brother moved from home to home.”

Both said their time at Rainbow Rescue taught them to cope with life. They learnt discipline and comradery. And both men said they learnt how to communicate, which is a major asset for them in their respective fields. Perai is doing his degree in Film Production at the University of the West Indies, while Matthew is a member of the Protective Services. But as much as they found a second life, there was something missing. A supportive family.

“I strengthened my mind and my heart’

“The room I slept in had burglar proofing on the window and every night I would look outside and look to the sky and say I wonder when I will have a family. I rather family over everything, money is nothing to me and family was everything,” says Perai, adding that it was the first time he told anyone his story.

Matthew, on the other hand, said he knew he had a family on the outside, but due to the dysfunction that existed, he knew he had to move on. He turned to the community residence for support.

“They used to always try to make us feel at home, but I did feel for my own a couple times. The first Christmas was tough though when I realised I couldn’t go home, it was difficult, but I strengthened by mind and my heart to do things on my own,” Matthew said.

Read More at the Guardian


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