The Case of Ta’esha
Ta’esha was born 6 weeks early, in a Louisiana public hospital. Ta’esha mother, Ronita, 16, started bleeding and was hospitalized until delivering. The doctor blamed formaldehyde in her family’s FEMA-funded trailer, their home since Hurricane Katrina displaced them from New Orleans. He also sternly said that Ronita stopped smoking, waited for few years, and gotten prenatal care; Ta’esha would be bigger and healthier.
Ronita’s grandmother, who has obesity, diabetes, and heart problems, support the family with her disability insurance, Ronita’s youngest brother, Donnell, has cerebral palsy and frequent seizures, and also receives disability. Her mother and older brother are unemployed, like most FEMA trailer park residents. Her father, a day laborer, was murdered 5 years earlier. The family’s phone was disconnected, so Ronita could not reach her family when she went into early labor.
Ronita had returned to school, 2 years after Katrina, when she went into labor. The local schools, overwhelmed by thousands of children displaced from New Orleans did not welcome more students, especially with babies, and her help with her youngest brother was needed at home. She liked high school and had hoped to graduate, baby and all, but worried her mother and grandmother could not manage without her.
Ronita wanted Ta’esha, whom she thought would always love her best. She assumed her mother and grandmother would help Ta’esha, as her grandmother had helped with her. But