The story of eight year old May from the Caldwell community, who hasn’t been seen in two years, still haunts her aunt Konah Kiazolu.
“For the past two years, I have been up and down trying to get my little girl back,” she tearfully said.
The whereabouts of May remains a mystery to her aunt Konah, but it is believed that the government may know where she is.
“When my niece was taken away from me, no one really told me why they took her, nor was there any proper proceedings held. Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Commissioner of Caldwell seized the child from me,” Ma Konah explained.
According to Ma Konah, the last day she laid eyes on May was the day she asked May to buy mosquito coil at a nearby store two and a half years ago.
“It was around 6 p.m. and it wasn't dark when I sent May. The place where they sell the coil is not far from where we live. An hour passed and I couldn’t see May, so I went to my friend around 7 p.m. to look for her. Unfortunately that whole night, I couldn’t find May anywhere,” Ma Konah explained.
According to Hawa Johnson, Administrative Assistant of the Caldwell Township Commissioner’s office, two years ago she spotted May hiding behind a bush.
“A little girl was killed by an electrical wire that broke while she was fetching plums in the evening hours. So we were asked to check around to make sure other children were not under the rain fetching for plums as well. While searching, a police officer and I noticed a little girl hiding herself behind a bush, so we took her and asked her why she was out so late,” stated Mrs. Johnson.
According to Johnson, May was a child that was being abused daily by Ma Konah, an allegation that many members in the community have attested to.
After seeing the child, cold, hungry and clearly frightened, the female police officer present with Hawa took the child to her house to spend the night until the Commissioner of Caldwell, Mrs. Alexine M. Howard, could be notified.
“Mrs. Howard is presently in the United States on medical leave and is not here to speak. And I’d like you to talk with her when she comes back next month. But I will say that after Mrs. Howard saw the condition of the child the next day with bruise marks on her entire body and hungry, it annoyed her,” added Hawa.
May is said to have spent a couple of weeks in the care of Mrs. Howard after Ma Konah was asked to provide the whereabouts of May’s biological parents before the child could be released to her family.
“They said that I should bring May’s parents before they would give me the girl back. I have taken care of May since she was a toddler, and her parents and my husband are siblings. Due to the distance in which they live, I haven’t been able to get to them all the way in Maryland,” Ma Konah said.
Misled by community gossip, Ma Konah said she heard from various community residents that Mrs. Howard had taken the child to America; an allegation that Hawa said was untrue. “They said I was going around announcing it, and all along May was at the Commissioner’s house going to school and coming to herself health wise. After Ma Konah informed Zone 7 depot of her allegations, they asked us to produce the child, which we did,” Hawa clarified.
Also, Mrs. Howard is said to have notified the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare about May’s case and the Ministry got involved and came for the child.
“I was in the office and saw May the day they were taking her away. They wouldn’t even allow me to go close to her. I never abused May; I treated her as my own child. It hurts me that they were accusing me of not taking care of her. Since they took her away, I have yet to lay my eye on my child,” Ma Konah wailed.
According to Hawa, when the Commissioner was being accused of sending the child to America and MOH brought the child to the Commissioner’s office for Ma Konah to see her, the child was in good condition.
“If you could have seen May, she was healthy and well taken care of. Ma Konah doesn’t deserve to have that child back,” Hawa declared.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Gwamie, a social worker at MOH and assigned to the case, told the Daily Observer Women and Family Desk that May is presently at a safe way house until Ma Konah can present her parents to the government.
“We won’t allow anyone to come and say they are the parents. They will be fully screened and analyzed to make sure it is true. The child was in poor condition when we took her, beating marks were all over her body. That’s not how to treat a child. We haven’t taken the case further because we told Ma Konah she can have the child if she does what we said. Bring the girls parents,” Mrs. Gwamie insisted.
Ma Konah, who says she is working on notifying the parents of May also says she is frightened at the reaction May’s parents will have when they find out what has happened.
“These people know me and we are all family. They trusted me with their daughter that I would take care of her. I have asked our sister who works with immigration to step in and see how best she can help me get my child back,” Ma Konah pleaded.