Sin­gle dad Ron Pil­grim on mis­sion to give his chil­dren a bet­ter life – dev­as­tated at mur­der of tod­dler daugh­ter

Stabroek News Sunday - - WEEKEND MAGAZINE - By Olu­a­toyin Al­leyne

Ron Pil­grim’s day job starts around 9 am and ends at 3 pm, giv­ing him three hours be­fore he has to get to his night job which com­mences at 6 pm; in those three hours, he has to en­sure that his chil­dren are fed and pre­pared for bed.

He re­turns home just after 6 am from his night job with barely enough time to get his chil­dren off to school and make it to his 9 am day job.

Pil­grim is a sin­gle fa­ther. Two weeks ago, he was a sin­gle fa­ther of three chil­dren, but his youngest was trag­i­cally killed two Fri­days ago, al­legedly by a rel­a­tive, who ripped off her earrings be­fore throw­ing her through a win­dow and bury­ing her in the wa­ter­logged yard.

Pil­grim’s youngest brother Sher­win Roberts, 18, was charged last week with the mur­der of 18-months old Ronasha Pil­grim and was re­manded to prison.

“I still can’t be­lieve she dead and I don’t un­der­stand how it hap­pen,” Pil­grim told the Sun­day Stabroek in a re­cent interview.

The tod­dler was killed dur­ing the night as she stayed with her older broth­ers, Ryan, 12 and Rob 11 while Pil­grim was away at his se­cu­rity job at Cevons Waste Man­age­ment. Dur­ing the day, he is a main­te­nance worker at a pri­vate res­i­dence.

He is 35 years old, but looks much older mainly due to what he de­scribed as “hardly get­ting a good night’s sleep in years.” While his day off from the main­te­nance job is Fri­day, there is no stip­u­lated day off for his se­cu­rity job.

When the Sun­day Stabroek sat down with Pil­grim, he had just picked up his older son from school. The child, who was neatly dressed in his brand-new school clothes, started sec­ondary school last week and while he rides a bi­cy­cle, his fa­ther rides along with him to en­sure that he gets to school safely and then does the same thing in the af­ter­noon.

As we spoke Pil­grim kept glanc­ing at his watch as he wanted to en­sure that he had time to take his son home to Sophia be­fore head­ing off to work.

“I don’t have much time,” he ad­mit­ted after a while but he also wanted to share his story and hope that per­sons would un­der­stand that it was not a case of him be­ing ne­glect­ful to his chil­dren, but a case of him at­tempt­ing to pro­vide for them the best way he knows how.

“I don’t want leave them alone, but I have to work and to be hon­est one job can’t do,” he said flatly.

Lit­tle Ronasha and the boys did not share the same mother and ac­cord­ing to her fa­ther he has shared an “off and on” re­la­tion­ship with the child’s mother.

“I don’t know but some­times she is by me and then an­other time she would just gone by she grand­mother. I love me daugh­ter but I had to leave her with the boys when I go­ing to work in the night,” Pil­grim said.

He said while he would have liked to have a more sta­ble re­la­tion­ship with his daugh­ter’s mother, it was her choice. When the child was alive and school was in ses­sion Pil­grim took her to day care be­fore drop­ping his sons off to school and in the af­ter­noons, he picked up all three of them and took them home.

“To be hon­est some­times I didn’t even have enough time to re­ally make things for them to eat but I use to try,” he said.

Since their sister died, Pil­grim’s sons have not slept in the small one-bed­room shack they call home, as their sister’s mother has been keep­ing them when their fa­ther leaves for work.

“It is hard for them and at least she [the child’s mother] is help­ing out…”

Since 2011

Pil­grim said he was forced to take an­other job when the mother of his two sons died in 2011. He did not go into de­tails, but re­vealed that she got sick and shock­ingly died shortly after leav­ing him with his two sons.

He said ini­tially his mother as­sisted with tak­ing care of the chil­dren as he worked but even­tu­ally their care was left solely to him. And at the time the fam­ily lived with his re­puted wife’s rel­a­tives, but after she died Pil­grim had to find a place of his own.

While he is grate­ful to a fam­ily in Sophia who al­lowed him to put up the one-bed­room shack be­hind their home, Pil­grim ad­mit­ted their home is not an ideal one but all he can af­ford. The shack is tiny and the land on which it stands is of­ten swampy. But it is still home to Pil­grim and his chil­dren. Asked why he did not take what some might de­scribe as the ‘easy way out’ and put his chil­dren into state care, Pil­grim quickly said that would have been the hard­est de­ci­sion.

“That is not the easy way out. That woulda been the hard way out. It hard for me to be hon­est, but they are my chil­dren so they have to live with me. I have to take care of them,” he said.

He had hoped when he com­menced the re­la­tion­ship with Ronasha’s mother that she would have been a mother to his sons but that was not to be, even though they shared a child to­gether.

“I don’t re­ally want to say much about that, but you know I wish she woulda be more with me and them…,” he said.

He be­lieves if she was there their daugh­ter might not have been killed. Pil­grim, at the time of the interview, said he still could not com­pre­hend that the child, who was ex­pected to be buried yes­ter­day (Satur­day) was dead.

He also does not have an ex­pla­na­tion for his brother’s al­leged ac­tions as he did not know him to be a drug ad­dict. “His hands lil sticky and that is why I didn’t want he around me but I didn’t know any­thing about he us­ing drugs,” he said.

In fact, Roberts was only re­leased from prison in July fol­low­ing the prison fire. He was one of the pris­on­ers who was granted early re­lease; he had been serv­ing time for break­ing and en­ter­ing.

“I don’t know why he do it. I only see he one time since when de po­lice bring he by me home and he show them where he bury she and that was it,” Pil­grim said, adding that he had not seen or spo­ken to his mother since the day of the in­ci­dent.

Build­ing his house

PPil­grim’s com­bined salaries see him earn­ing just about $100,000 monthly but he said rent­ing an apart­ment is not an op­tion for him.

In­stead Pil­grim uses what­ever he could save to­wards build­ing his own home. He has a piece of land in Par­fait Har­monie and the foun­da­tion and four walls of the house have al­ready been com­pleted.

How­ever, re­cently one of his neigh­bours com­plained that his work­ers had built one of the walls too close to their fence and this halted work. Pil­grim said he is now at­tempt­ing to raise some funds to have the wall taken down and for some ad­just­ments to be done.

“I don’t want to rent a house. I can’t af­ford to rent a house. I try­ing to build me own house,” he said.

Pil­grim said he has not ap­proached a bank for as­sis­tance as he be­lieved that with his earn­ings, even­tu­ally, he would have put up a struc­ture. But with the re­cent tragedy he wishes this can be sooner rather than later.

“Right now, I don’t re­ally want the boys back in that house. It will be hard for them. I don’t know yet what to do be­cause I don’t know how long they could stay with my baby mother in the nights,” Pil­grim said. He also agrees that one day he would have to leave his night job, as not only would the lack of sleep de­stroy his health. but he also wants to be there for his sons as they get older.

“You know, I wouldn’t want to leave them alone when them be­come teenager, is all kinds of in­flu­ence out there and I want to be around for them,” he said.

Since his daugh­ter died, Pil­grim said, he was vis­ited by Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Health Volda Lawrence, who in­di­cated that the min­istry would cover the fu­neral ex­penses once an in­voice was pre­sented. il­grim said he does not want hand­outs, be­cause he works hard to pro­vide for his chil­dren but he would ap­pre­ci­ate some as­sis­tance to com­plete his home so that the fam­ily could move from the en­vi­ron­ment they now oc­cupy. “If I could get some help it is just so I could fin­ish me house, noth­ing more just that. Peo­ple don’t even have to give me money, they could buy a lil ma­te­rial, that would be wel­come,” Pil­grim said in the interview.

For now, he will con­tinue to make the daily and nightly grind at his jobs as he at­tempts to do what has to be done.

Pil­grim can be con­tacted on 672-8782.

Ron Pil­grim

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