By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
BAHAMIAN mother Ebony Edgecombe, who with her three children, were temporarily homeless in Florida, yesterday defended her integrity against criticism of her role in the family’s predicament.
“I’m a good mother,” she said. “I’m a great mother. I didn’t do anything wrong. All my life I’ve helped people, and that is why I’ve been blessed.”
The story of Ms Edgecombe and her three boys, the youngest aged 17 months, went viral over the weekend after Florida news outlets reported that a police officer found them sleeping on a public bus bench in North Miami and helped them secure lodging.
The family had travelled from Nassau to Florida because Ms Edgecombe’s baby Joshua is scheduled to have surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital on May 16. Although the group arrived in Florida back in December, their situation became dire after the mother lost more than $3,000 in savings meant to support them until the procedure.
In two days, a GoFundMe account set up by Sergeant Eduardo Perez on May 6 had raised $11,079 from 228 donations. Up to press time, the page had raised $12,244 of its $15,000 target. Sergeant Perez is the supervisor of Ryan Michel, the North Miami police officer who used his personal finances to assist the displaced family after he found them shortly after midnight on May 3.
Ms Edgecombe, 37, told The Tribune yesterday that she was sickened by the negative backlash directed at the family on the social media site Facebook, where someone posted photos of her that were taken from her account.
She felt the misappropriated photos were a violation, and questioned how her fellow citizens could be so heartless.
“I wasn’t begging,” she said, “I didn’t come over here (Florida) begging. They are making it seem like it’s so outrageous. I was waiting for money to be sent to me to keep renting the room, the money didn’t come through in time. So we waited by the bench that was near to the motel, and that’s when the officer came.
“It happened for a reason. All of the negative people, I don’t care what they say.”
Ms Edgecombe’s youngest son suffers from hypospadias, a genital birth defect that affects the position of the opening of the urethra.
Dr Sy Pierre, president of the Medical Association of the Bahamas, questioned whether Ms Edgecombe had explored local treatment options.
Dr Pierre noted that the country boasted two urologists that were more than capable to perform the surgery needed to repair the defect.
He added that the surgery is performed free of charge at the Princess Margaret Hospital for persons who cannot afford it.
Ms Edgecombe said she briefly considered PMH as an option, but ultimately decided to seek treatment in the United States because Joshua was an American citizen.