The Santeno Project

$1,175 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 35 people in 24 months
At thirty-three years old, my aunty, Nichola Tomlinson, passed away after losing a long and hard fought battle with adrenal cancer. She died on Sunday November 27 at 4:30AM at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Jamaica. Nicky, as was her nickname, was a single parent who worked tirelessly to take care of her children. She ensured that her children were well fed even if that meant sacrificing her meal to keep them satiated. Nicky continued to sacrifice even after losing her job, because she had to undergo extensive rounds of chemotherapy. However, after the cancer developed to Stage 4, she started experiencing excruciating pain in her back and abdomen. At times, the pain became so unbearable that she would cry and wail unconsciously in front of her children, who in return would cry and vehemently pray for their mother’s recovery that never came. She was a great mother; a lifelong friend; a compassionate aunty; a loyal sister; and a devoted daughter.

 Nicky left behind two beautiful children. The eldest, Santeno Nembhard, is fourteen years old. He aspires to become a Music Executive and a music composer. He is a talented young boy. He composed a song for his mother before she passed to which she enjoyed.  Death is not an alien feat to Santeno. In 2013, Santeno’s father was murdered. He would cry nonstop, while refusing to be counseled. Nicky would often say, “Honey, you are a fighter. You are my warrior, so keep on fighting.” Some days he felt depressed, but he often say “I am going to make my mother proud. I will become musician, so we wont be poor anymore.” Santeno is now an orphan. “I have no one left. I am all alone;” that was what he said when he found out his mother had died. Moments later, he said he is going to commit suicide. In addition, Tracy-Ann Crooks, Nicky’s daughter, is nine years old. She aspires to be a teacher. Tracy-Ann says her mother who always helps her brother and herself with their homework inspired her to become a teacher. Nicky did not graduate high school, and the financial hardship that she faced prompted her passionate advocacy for her children’s education. “If I die, please take care of my children,” was Nicky’s last request.

  A Dialog Between Santeno and Myself After The Tragedy:

Me: How re you?

Santeno: I am sad every day. Mommy is gone and all I wanted to do was take care of her and my sister. I wrote her a song, and I wanted to play it for the community, but no one wanted to play it, until she died. The morning mommy died, they started playing my song.

Me: Can I hear the song?

Santeno:
 
       My life isn’t easy like 1, 2,3 
        I struggle hard even though I don’t have a clue
        Bad-mind want see you to think they’re true
        My life isn’t easy like 1,2,3
       Every day I’m praying for help,
       O God am begging let this suffering end
      Am praying for my family all though am not beggin’       
       Life’s hard so I don’t have any money to spend
      Even if it is a dream I know I won’t die
      Give thanks to God, I have Butter and Bread
      I know I have to get the money and buy a pillow for
                             my bed
        Look at the little baby sister from morning she hasn’t    
                           been fed

Santeno: Mommy was in a lot of pain. I worry about her every day. I cannot focus in school. It feels like every time mommy is in pain, I feel it too. I cannot stop thinking about her…it distracts me! I am so sad I cannot study. And exams are starting in December.

Me: I am so sorry. If I were there, I would help you study.

Santeno: I wanted to protect her. I wrote songs to cheer her up. But, now she is gone. It’s only my sister and me now. And, I do not want Tracy-Ann to get the same thing that killed mommy. I don’t want to lose my sister. I do not want to feel this pain anymore. I cant continue to watch my sister cry. I just want her to be happy.

Santeno: I know if I stay in school and study, I can work and help my sister. But, mommy always helps me with my homework. Who is going to help me now?

 

I, Garfield Walker, a student at the University at Buffalo created this GoFundMe page to supplement Santeno’s and Tracy-Ann’s academic and social lives. I understand the value of having a higher level of education and I want to extend the opportunity to my cousins. The fund will pay for their school tuition, school supplies, school uniforms, and any other recreational activities that they want to participate in. Please help me to make my cousins’ dreams a reality.  Thank you all!


Mission Statement: The Santeno Project was establised to raised sufficent amount of money to support Santeno's and Tracy-Ann's  academic and personal welbeing. All proceeds will go to said purpose and only said purpose.
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Meet Nicola Tomlinson:

As her funeral preparations are underway, I have used this opportunity to shed light on the profound impact that Nicola had on her community. Up until death, she was the secretory of a non-profit youth organization that seeks to foster an inclusive and activity rich environment for the children of the community. She did not receive payment for her position; instead it was an act of charity, which in the end has immortalized her in the hearts of those whose lives she has touched. Without equivocation, Nicola was known for her peaceful persona. A close family friend says it best, “Nicky never has a problem with anyone, nor does anyone have strife with her; she was an example of how people should live.”

Excerpt from a multi-party conversation is as follow:

Sister #1: I was a teenage mother and Nicky was the one that took care of my daughter. She was my favorite sister. She was so peaceful and kind and easy going. Nicky was a sweetheart. “I really do miss her; I wish I could have done more for her.”

Family Friend: Nicky was more of a sister to me; a life-long companion. I could talk to her about anything. After she died, I felt like someone had ripped something out of me. The sadness that I feel inside makes me physical weak. If I had known that she was going to die, I would have told her, “ Don’t worry, you have done the best thing in life by giving your heart to God. We will take care of your children, so don’t worry about them.”

Mother (Santeno and Tracy-Ann’s grandmother): The Saturday morning before my baby died, I watched her sleep for couple of minutes. I do not let her sleep alone and while she sleeps, I always check to see if she’s breathing. I was beyond hurt when I got the call that she was dead. I did everything I could to prevent her death; I bought medicinal herbs that I thought would have helped her. I prayed for her. The hardest part of this ordeal is after I have cooked dinner for the family…I expect to see my Nicky coming for dinner…but she is dead. I wish she were going to be buried in my yard. I would love to see my daughter’s grave everyday.

Sister #2: I wear her cloths now, because as I live, she will live on in and with me. I am proud of Nicky. I am proud of how she raised her kids and her work ethics. I cry everyday for her, but I have to be strong for my children and her children as well who are now my children. I call them my own, because that’s what they are…my own children. I was with her throughout the entire ordeal. I was at the doctor’s appointments; I even took her to the hospital the day she died. Nick loved to laugh…and my goodness, she loved cricket. She used to hurry me everyday to cook faster, so that we could play cricket. My dear sister, your soul is going to rest in peace…I know it!

Thank you all for donating thus far. We have raised $1,035!! I am beyond grateful. I would not have done this without you guys sharing and donating. So, please continue to share the story and donate,
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The lyrics are in Jamaican creole. It was directed and produced by Santeno Nembhard, a 14 y.o. boy who lost both of his parents. He lost his mother to adrenal cancer the day after Thanksgiving and his father was murdered couple years ago. Santeno expresses himself and finds solace in composing and singing music. He is a talented young boy who wants nothing but have a proper education and to make his younger sister, Tracy-Ann happy. His inner strengths knows no bounds. His persistence during this ordeal gives me hope. I am forever grateful to the donors and to those who have shared Santeno's story. Thank you!
Song Santeno Wrote for His Mother
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Tracy-Ann's Thoughts and Hopes for the Future

I had a conversation with Tracy-Ann recently. I asked her to explain to me, to the best of her abilities, how she felt. What are the thoughts that are going through her head, and her hopes and dreams for the future. Remember, Tracy-Ann is 9 y.o.

Note: Before Tracy-Ann and I had conversed, her aunt had recently picked her up from school, because she was crying nonstop. An excerpt of the dialog is as follow:

Me: How are you?
Tracy-Ann: I am alright.
**From the tone of her voice and the low-volume of her response, I could tell that she was fighting back tears and trying to be strong. I know this because her mother was a very strong woman, who led by example and Tracy-Ann is trying to walk in her footsteps.

Me: How do you really feel?
Tracy-Ann: I miss my mother dearly. When I come home, mommy is not there anymore.
**It was obvious from our conversation that Tracy-Ann has intense bottled-up emotions inside. She's only 9 y.o. and she has been raised to be strong inspite of her circumstances. Please note that programs are not readily available in Jamaica that specialize in helping children that lose family members. And, even if they are programs there, they are limited and expensive.

Me: What are your hopes and dreams?
Tracy-Ann: I wish my mother was her to see me graduate primary school and ace my GSAT†. She always helped me after school with my homework, even when I am confused. I want to become a teacher. Mommy supported my dreams.

†GSAT: Grade Six Achievement Test. It is Jamaica's national high school entrance test. For more information, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_Six_Achievement_Test
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Allocation of Donated Funds

I, Garfield Walker, is the administrative body of this GoFundMe account. I am also working in conjunction with my sister Jodiann Walker (@Jojo Bellah) to maximize outreach and the efficiency of this project. Moreover, the total donated fund, after GoFundMe have deducted a 5% fee*, will be moved to an independent account that is created and monitored by me. Analogous to a scholarship, a fraction of the total amount donated will be allocated each semester. The amount disbursed per semester will be based on Santeno's and Tracy-Ann's total academic fees, the cost of transportation to and from school, their meal plan and also any recreational activities that their respective school or family endeavors on. No proceeds will go towards Jodiann nor myself for creating, monitoring, promoting and/or maintaining this page. All funds donated will go towards Santeno's and Tracy'Ann academic and personal affairs. Thank you all for your generous donations to The Santeno Project.

*For more information on GoFundMe's Deduction, please see:
https://support.gofundme.com/hc/en-us/articles/203604294-Will-GoFundMe-charge-me-any-fees-
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$1,175 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 35 people in 24 months
Created November 29, 2016
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