Shirley mum builds orphanage in memory of South Norwood son who committed suicide
A mum is building an orphanage in a poverty-stricken region of South America after being inspired by the tragic death of her son.
Debra Rostron, aged 53, of Shirley, has ploughed £25,000 into the construction of a children's home in Parika, Guyana, that she hopes will help disadvantaged youngsters avoid the same fate as her son Jamie Prahalad.
Jamie, who was raised in South Norwood, killed himself aged 25 in September 2007 after years of battling depression.
Debra was born in Guyana, which has one of the world's highest suicide rates, and moved to London aged 17.
She visited her homeland with Jamie in March 2007 to look for a site for the orphanage, which she hoped would help struggling families.
Mrs Rostron said: "I was a single mother holding done a full-time job and taking care of Jamie at the same time, really battling to get help for him. I struggled for about six years with him and I had family support and my own house, so if I thought I was having difficulties looking after this child, how do people who are less fortunate than myself cope?"
The pair found a three-acre plot of land suitable for their plans, but Jamie committed suicide just six months later.
Mrs Rostron said: "He just could not fight any longer. But I decided I was not going to let what happened stop me from doing what I had already started."
"The building will be called Jamie’s Home, because even though I lost him something positive will be left behind that means his life was not in vain or was wasted. Some child is going to benefit from his life."
Mrs Rostron has planning permission for five homes to house 40 children and hopes to open to first later this year with the help of her husband Chad, 61.
They have built the first home over five years, funding the project with their own savings, donations from friends and by holding barbecues, raffles and cake sales.
The pair, who met working in St George's Hospital's opthalmology department, raised £3,500 by requesting donations instead of gifts for their wedding in 2011.
Mrs Rostron said: "I really want to just take a child and turn their life around. Who is to say that the circumstances of your birth should dictate your whole life?"