Little did Castie Anderson know that the daughter she gave away 35 years ago would be the one to now ensure that she has a roof over her head, after 20 years of sleeping on the sidewalk at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH).
Anderson was forced to make the sidewalk her home after she fell on hard times.
Her daughter, Celine Collins, told the Jamaica Observer last Friday that, despite growing up with a mother figure, there was always a void in her life that eventually prompted her to find her biological mother.
“I grew up with three brothers and two other relatives — (one of whom) they say is my sister and a lady… I asked her how them name Rhoden and me name Collins. She said, ‘We have the same father and my father died and I did not get his name, but she (the lady) was with him and she have five children with him so she just took me along and grow mi’.
“So me say to her, ‘How you come (to have) me?’ She said my mother was living downtown and she used to come up to (St Thomas) see my father. That was when my father’s mother called him and tell him that a lady is here (in St Thomas) to see him and him come. When him come, she (Castie) said the child is his and she went away and left the child there.
“Before that, people say they used to see her (Castie) by the Mineral Bath (in St Thomas) with me and people see and called in foster care. Foster care used to check up on me and send money at the post office to take care of me,” Collins said.
Collins said while she was attending Donald Quarrie High School, she was informed that her mother was living in Kingston.
“Every time I saw someone, a woman, I wonder if it was she. I had a friend… and I ended up telling her about the situation. Even when it come to Mother’s Day and so, I always get emotional,“ Collins reasoned, adding that people would tease her and call her alien because she did not have any documents.
After unsuccessfully searching for her mother for years, Collins said she contacted the Susan Show in 2013, seeking their assistance.
The mother of three said she became depressed from waiting for months for a telephone call from the show, to say that they had located her mother. She said that call never came.
Despite the disappointment and frustration, Collins decided to call the Sunday Contact programme on
Radio Jamaica. Prior to calling the programme, she said she was advised that she would need additional information.
“I went to KPH to see if mi could get some information, but they told me I can’t do it without my mother. She has to give me the okay, she has to be there,” Collins explained. “So I went to RGD (Registrar General’s Department) with my birth certificate and told them that I want to do a family tree. I got some information about her sister and her sister’s child and so I called Raulston McKenzie. By the time I came off the phone I got a call from a young man who told me that he lives close to her sister in Stony Hill. He told me that he gave her my number and that she would call me. She called me and I introduced myself to her and told her what I knew.”
According to Collins, she was crushed when her aunt told her that she knew her mother was living at KPH, but could not assist her.
Collins said she then went to KPH in search of her mother.
“I went down there and asked the security guard if they know ‘Bev’ because that was the name my aunt told me them call her. So the security asked mi why mi asking for her. So mi say, ‘Mi hear bout her so mi just wah find her’,” she said, adding that the security, who pointed out ‘Bev’, was fascinated by her enquiry.
She said after introducing herself to ‘Bev’, she asked her: “So is here suh you live for all these years?”
“Who is you fi come a ask mi that,” Collins said she replied.
She said after she explained to her that she was just concerned, the woman opened up to her and told her that she had three children, one of whom she described as Collins.
At the same time, Collins said Bev told her not to worry about the little girl because she was well taken care of and that she was among her sisters and brothers.
She asked her if she had ever visited the “little girl”.
Collins said she explained that she would carry food items and money, whenever she could, to the woman who she had arranged to keep the “little girl” but things got rough and she stopped visiting.
Collins said tears flowed when the woman told her that her daughter was living in St Thomas with a lady by the name of Doreen. That was when she said she revealed that she was the little girl.
“She said, ‘you?’ and I said, ‘Yes’. She said, ‘You grow big, though. You turn big lady, is a lucky thing mi never dash you weh’.
“I went across the road and she started to introduce mi to the people them,” Collins recalled.
Collins, who has been working part-time at an ackee factory, said she was unable to facilitate her mother where she lived so she began seeking assistance from Food For the Poor in 2014.
She said despite her financial challenges, she would take whatever she could for Anderson whenever she visited her.
On Friday, March 10, Anderson walked in to a newly constructed two-bedroom house in Woodbourne district, Yallahs, St Thomas. The house was donated by Food For the Poor Jamaica in partnership with Douglas Orane, former chairman and chief executive officer of GraceKennedy Group.
“When I retired, I felt it was an opportunity for me and my family to help Jamaicans who are in need, and so I identified that Food For the Poor does remarkable work. They are very organised. They have an islandwide reach and they are able to locate the people who are in the greatest need, and so I decided to donate,” Orane said, adding that he did not wish for his donations to be highlighted.
Anderson was happy.
“Mi a give thanks for life. Mi alright, if mi have anything can give people mi will give them,” Anderson said.
“I am so happy for the family, because it is a reunification. Mother and daughter haven’t seen each other for two decades,” Orane reasoned, adding that he has found joy in helping others.
Orane’s teenage grandson, Bryce, who skipped school to be a part of the activities that day told the Observer that some children his age take things for granted and that he wanted to help others who are less fortunate.