Village searches as Kimani, 2, disappears from Point Fortin home

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Some of the people searching for two-year-old Kimani Francis walk along an unpaved road in Techier Village, Point Fortin on Monday in an attempt to find him. – Marvin Hamilton

When the sun came down on Monday, the massive search for missing two-year-old Point Fortin resident Kimani “Mani” Francis was not hampered.

Instead, the search groups, which included scores of villagers, pitched a tent in a forested area and installed floodlights to camp and search overnight.

Kimani walked out of the family’s home at Tenth Street Extension in Techier Village at around 10 am. He was barefoot and wearing only a disposable diaper.

The toddler lives with his mother Kimberly Charles, 22, and extended family, including his grandmother, great-grand mother and an aunt. The boy’s father, Emmanuel Francis, lives in Guapo, on the outskirts of Point Fortin.

The police got a call from someone who saw the child alone about a half mile from his home in a deserted area on a road in the Guapo district. The road connects Techier Village to Gonzales Village in Guapo.

A diver and another man search a river near the child’s Techier Village home. – Marvin Hamilton

The police asked the person to follow the child. However, the person claimed to have lost sight of the child.

The police immediately went to the house to verify the information, and it was only then that the boy’s relatives became aware of his disappearance.

Relatives declined to speak to media personnel.

The child’s mother, who is unemployed, told the police she was writing a resume on her phone. The child was eating a banana. His vest was dirty and she changed it. Minutes later, the police came to her home and told her about his disappearance.

As news of the disappearance spread, scores of villagers, including women and children, came out to search.

Point Fortin MP Kennedy Richards, Point Fortin Mayor Saleema Thomas, the NGOs Search and Rescue Team and Hard Grounds joined the police and fire officers and soldiers.

Without hesitation, villagers went into murky waters in nearby rivers to search.

The search groups also used tracker dogs, a National Security Ministry helicopter and drones.

Many of the villagers said they “just came to help” and did not know the child or family personally.

Police officers, fire officers, hunters and villagers gather to begin their search for two-year-old Kimani Francis in Point Fortin on Monday. – Marvin Hamilton

The mayor told Newsday the disappearance was heart-wrenching.

Thomas, the mother of three, said she was overwhelmed by the response of villagers.

She called on the community, and by extension the country, to support the cause in whatever way they can by sharing the child’s images on social media.

“This way people can be on the lookout. I am asking the public to use what is already out there to support the safe return of the children.”

The MP said the villagers alone comprised 100-plus.

“The numbers are great. The Minister of National Security is aware of what is taking place here,” he said.

Many villages said they were baffled by the circumstances of the disappearance.

Investigations are ongoing.