Nfld. & Labrador

Young St. John's family struggling to keep their home after mother's death

A St. John’s family who watched their mother die of cancer in July say they’re now on the brink of losing the family home.

Community raises money to help children with bill payments in interim

Clemence Maluma Makobo died in July, leaving her children fighting to keep their heads above water. (GoFundMe)

A St. John's family who watched their mother die of cancer in July say they're now on the brink of losing the family home.

Clemence Maluma Makobo was a personal-care attendant who left behind five children.

Her 22-year-old son, Jeremy Kakoko, said he and his siblings weren't expecting her death, and have been left grappling with the legal and financial fallout.

"We've been having some troubles with our insurance policy," Kakoko said. Makobo's life insurance through her employer was cancelled without their knowledge, according to Kakoko, because his mother wasn't working — and therefore wasn't making payments on her policy — while she was in palliative care.

"We were not aware of that," he said.

Makobo's mortgage protection plan also doesn't cover the family, he said, telling The St. John's Morning Show on Tuesday that the policy applies only to accidental deaths, not death from disease or natural causes.

Makobo also didn't have a will, forcing Kakoko to seek legal help to navigate her assets.

"That leaves me in the dark a lot," he said.

Community support

Kakoko's older sister moved to Calgary to look after two of their younger siblings, while Kakoko — a full-time student who also works full time — looks after one of his younger sisters here, splitting the costs of their care.

"Things are quite difficult for us financially," he said. "I'm thanking God that we've been given such a great community.… We've been getting support from everywhere."

The family was able to raise funds online to catch up on missed power bill payments, and to help pay for his mother's burial — a glimpse of hope amid the challenges that keep piling up.

A GoFundMe campaign showed over $22,000 in aid as of Tuesday, with donors leaving condolences for the family and grieving their loss.

"I'm really, really grateful for that," he said. "It has been making things a lot easier for us here."

For now, Kakoko is scrambling for a backup plan, searching for a new place to live before their potential eviction in November. 

"It's not easy losing a mother. It's not easy losing the most important person in your life," Kakoko said.  

"Things [do] get challenging, but the people that you find yourself with, it's [them] that help you the most."

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