Leelawatee Ramtahal is pleading with the relevant authorities to help her in providing the best care possible for her 27-year-old autistic nephew Christopher Sankar, who she says has a mind of an eight-year-old but can be very violent.
Ramtahal invited the Sunday Express into her Dookiesingh Street, St Augustine, home last week to see first hand Sankar's condition and to talk about the much needed assistance to care for him.
Sankar, who lives in the porch of the house that is barricaded with pieces of wood, lattice (a decorative fencing) and burglar proofing, stood totally naked, holding onto the burglar proofing which separates him from the livingroom and gazed about the room where the interview was being carried out.
According to Ramtahal she has never asked for assistance in caring for Sankar until recently.
She said in the past, she had rented an apartment at her home to UWI students but because of Sankar, no one wants to rent anymore, so she has lost that income.
Her pension and the disability grant that Sankar gets, she said, is not enough because of the special care he needs, so she has no other choice but to seek further assistance from government.
Ramtahal said she has filled out countless forms at the Ministry of the People as well as Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh's constituency office in Freeport, yet help has been slow in coming.
"I went to the Ministry's Tunapuna office for help, and I applied to get a food card which would help, but they told me that I don't qualify. I don't want nothing for me but I need help for this boy.
"I have a doctor who comes from Tunapuna every three months but I cannot afford it because is $300 for the doctor and the medication comes up to about the same thing. We have a heavy light bill because we have to keep a fan on him all day. The washing machine working all the time because we have to wash several times for the day because when he mess we have to wipe and clean down the place."
Ramtahal said mops and brooms are also commodities that they use heavily in their care for him as well as a lot of Clorox.
"You see the place clean we don't keep him in no mess but I really need the help. I even wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, Kamla Persad Bissessar, and this is a response to the letter asking for assistance with the boy," she said.
The letter dated March 15 2012, from the Office of the Prime Minister, which was signed by the Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister stated: "I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated February 5, 2012 which was addressed to the Honourable Prime Minister please be advised that your matter has been forwarded to the director of social welfare division."
Ramtahal said she even threatened to take the Ministry's failure to assist her to the media.
"I told them I would go to the media because I can't understand what it is went wrong. They were following it up, but I have had no help," she said.
She said her son who is the main caregiver for Sankar is a chef by trade but has been unable to work because he has to take care of Sankar.
"He is the one who would go in there and bathe him and all that, but even he has had challenges with him. I went away two years ago by my daughter and my son went in there to bathe him and he kicked him (my son) on his knee cap and moved the knee cap. He ended up in the hospital."
"I am a pensioner who has had triple by pass surgery. I had surgery on my foot after I got into an accident so I don't do anything, my son is the one who cooks and takes care of the house and the boy. I am still here only because of God," she said.
Ramtahal explained that Sankar came to live with her at the age of two when his father, her brother, was awarded custody of him by a court after the boy's mother failed to show up at the courts.
"We had him with us in and out before he was two but that day in the court I was there with my brother, and he asked me if I would take the child and I agreed, so he brought him and he has been with me since then."
His father she said assisted her financially but he has since died.
"I ent make him but I love him like my own child so I not giving him to nobody. I not putting him in no home because they will mistreat him," she said.
She said around full moon Sankar gets extremely violent and rocks the gate and screams so that the entire neighbourhood hears him.
"We can't put a bed in there because he destroys it, so we put a mattress for him."
She said she has sent an invoice for a mattress to the Minister of the People Glenn Ramadharsingh's office because the mattress she got from the Tunapuna office is now old.
She said they have to continuously put the mattresses up on the roof to sun because he defecates on them.
Ramtahal said she is unable to carry him to a doctor because no one could control him, and if they do, he has to be bound hand and foot.
"We tied him hand and foot and hired a car and carried him El Dorado mental clinic and the doctor came out, saw him in the car and said he would send someone in the government vehicle to give him an injection. Up to today nothing," she said.
Asked why he was naked, Ramtahal said clothes is out of the question. "When he takes medication he may be calmer yes but no clothes," she said.
"So I does lie down right here and watch him. I can't go in there though," she said pointing to Sankar's living quarters.
"If he wants water I know when to give him, but for food I have to stand on the side and feed him through the gate", she said.
Asked if he understands when she talks with him, Ramtahal asked him questions about whether he knew who she was speaking with and he responded ---- "papers".
She said when he was small she could control him but not anymore.
In response to Ramtahal's call for assistance the Ministry of the People's Communication Specialist Odessar Kerr-Layne responded in an e-mail that stated: "Please be informed that concerns for counselling, roof repair, food security and a care giver, have all been treated with and a visit was made to the client's home last week.
"The client was assessed for a TTcard but did not qualify initially. However, given her circumstance a reassessment was done and she was issued with the TTcard.
"Please note that only last week the client took in her documents to complete the application for the permanent food card. Also note that this client has already received two temporary food cards plus a food hamper from the Ministry.
"Please note that the client has received assistance at all levels from the Ministry, she however continues to make threats to go to the media claiming she is not being served, which is untruth.
"On the issue of the care of the violent, naked, caged young man, it is the family's responsibility to ensure that he is fed on time and all his needs are met, so as not to encourage him to go into violent episodes. Our social workers have visited the family and recommendations and action taken are within the purview of this Ministry."
Kerr-Layne added that Ramtahal was advised to visit the Ministry of Health for assistance so that Sankar can be given relevant medication for the violent episodes.