Denzil Moreland hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since his daughter died in the fire that destroyed Walker’s Place of Safety on Lyndhurst Crescent in Kingston almost two months ago.His daughter, sixteen-year-old Anna-Kay Moreland and Onieka McCrea, 12, were the only two fatalities of the January 16 early-morning blaze that displaced 34 other wards and caregivers.
Yesterday, when the Jamaica Observer visited Moreland, a fruit vendor, on East Queen Street in downtown Kingston shortly before midday, his face was twisted with pain.”Every night mi cry for her. Every night mi dream see her, every night, every night since the fire. Nuff time mi a sleep and jump out a mi sleep,” he told the Observer as he took a break from peeling cane along the sidewalk.Fighting to hold back tears, Moreland, 35, said he was at his stall when he was informed that his only child perished in the blaze that firefighters took about an hour to bring under control.Superintendent Kevin Haughton from the Jamaica Fire Brigade had told the Observer that units from Half-Way-Tree, York Park, Stony Hill and Rollington Town fire stations responded to a call at 12:08 am that the home was on fire.
“Every Sunday mi used to go visit her. When mi no go, mi send a girl go visit her. Mi use to carry food and money,” Moreland explained.
He said when Anna-Kay’s mother died in 2002, he knew he could not provide the care that a mother could. Nonetheless, he played the role until he decided to seek assistance from a female friend who resides in his community.”Her mother died when she was four years old and a me raise her from dem time there, but because she was getting big now, and a girl child, so mi give her to one lady and say mek she keep her because a girl child, mi nah keep her weh mi deh and mi know how people stay,” Moreland said, adding that Anna-Kay was 10 years old at that time.The heartbroken father explained that he only wanted his daughter to be raised in a good home with proper guidance.
However, he lost custody of her after he was told that she was molested.”One evening she was coming from school and I sent her home to change her uniform and come back. The whole evening mi a look fi her and mi cyaah see she a come, and when mi hear, mi hear dem say a one bus man came and tek her up and gone wid her. So mi went and search for her. The following day I went to CDA (Child Development Agency) and dem say, a dem have her. Them tell mi say them nah give her back.
Another day mi deh yah again and them call mi and say mi fi come to court,” Moreland said, adding that that was when he lost custody of her.Moreland, who said he is awaiting answers from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) about the source of the fire, told the Observer that he is disappointed.”Putting her in a place of safety, she supposed to be safe. Mi nuh supposed to get this, because remember is a place of safety they put her, ennuh. If she did deh yah wid mi same way, if judge did give mi her back mi woulda tek care of her with the same finger a banana and send her go to school and grow her good,” he reasoned.Yesterday, Trudy Parker, the mother of Onieka McCrea, said she, too, is awaiting answers from CPFSA.
“Them call mi from in a January and we did a DNA. Then after that they call us back for funeral preparation. So we are here sitting and waiting on them. I want to know why the fire report taking so long. A March we gone in a now,” Parker said.Yesterday, the CPFSA’s Public Relations and Communications Manager Rochelle Dixon said the agency is still awaiting the report from the Jamaica Fire Brigade.