Monday, January 22, 2018

Family in need of healing

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Mark Fraser

While he is thankful for the miracle of being alive and continuing to heal, it is clear that the world of Ryan Rampersad has been turned upside down since the day a car driven by an off-duty police officer ran into him and others, killing Haydee Paul and her two little girls, Shakira and Akasha, and leaving Ryan close to death’s door.

This week, as the Sea Lots community marked the first anniversary of the tragedy, Ryan Rampersad was finally able to return home after a year of multiple surgeries, extensive medical care and physical therapy.

Even with such remarkable progress, his return was far from the idyllic home-coming of happy endings.

While the medical team has helped him win the battle for his life and record steady progress in regaining use of his limbs and mental faculties, the young father faces major life challenges. In his absence, the family he left behind has been ruptured following a dispute which has led to his wife and two children leaving the home at Sea Lots that they had once shared with his mother.

The devastating impact of tragedy on some family relationships is well-documented. The stress and anxiety that follow in its wake can tear apart relationships. In the case of the Rampersads, the financial circumstances of a family left to fend without the sole breadwinner, could only have exacerbated the situation.

Caught in such circumstances, some people are lucky to have family members, community elders, the Church or others to support and guide them through their roughest periods. Many, who have no such support, carry their pains alone and are often marked by their experience of trauma. Very often, those most affected are the children involved.

No one who has followed the courageous battle of Ryan Rampersad and his family could fail to be moved by the personal drama being played out around him now that he is back home. Even given the private nature of the issues involved, there is a role here for Social Services and support personnel in helping this family to access some form of dispute mediation to negotiate their differences in the interest of the entire family, especially Ryan and his children.

Even before the accident, the living circumstances of this family were not ideal. They are even less so given Ryan’s physical challenges and medical needs. If ever there was a case for State housing on humanitarian grounds, Ryan Rampersad is it.

We therefore urge the various state agencies to consider what services may be extended to this family in the interest of continuing the healing beyond Ryan’s physical wounds.

Through no fault of his own, this young man has lost his good health, his job and now, it would seem, is in danger of losing his family due to a rift that could well be mediated. Even if counselling and mediation do not bring them a storybook ending, it might bring enough peace within this family to continue the healing of this brave young man.