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House at last for hurricane victims

Published:Sunday | September 14, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Phyllis Brodnock (second left), one of the recent house recipients under the Wooden Housing Project based on a partnership with Food for the Poor, The Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing and the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme, officially accepts the keys for her house from Davis Mair (second right), executive director of Food for the Poor Jamaica while Carl Chambers (left), another recipient, and Dr Morais Guy, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing look on.-Contributed

When Hurricane Sandy hit Jamaica in October 2012, the 61-year-old house in which Carl Chambers, an unemployed single father from Cheswick, St Thomas, lived with his common-law wife, Lassandra Dixon, and their seven-year-old daughter, Hiqra Chambers, was not spared.

During the storm, the two-bedroom dilapidated house, which Chambers' deceased mother built on a slope in 1951, was easily destroyed by rushing waters and strong winds.

After the storm ended, Chambers and Dixon had no money to repair the damage done to their house or to build a new one. So, they, along with little Hiqra had to continue making what was left of the building, their home.

"Before, it was really bad for me. It's just a little piece of the house here and there was left. When I laid down inside, I could literally look and see the sky, and I thought I could die at any time, but I never had another choice," said the 56-year-old Chambers.

For more than one year without a solid structure to live in, Chambers was on a search for a Good Samaritan

One day, he heard that Food for the Poor Jamaica, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing and the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) under The Wooden Housing Project, were in his community conducting an assessment of the damage made to the properties of families who were affected by the storm.

Additionally, they were offering some new houses to families in dire need. Without hesitation, Chambers shared his story with the assessment officer.

Quickly selected

He was quickly selected amongst those who would receive a new two-bedroom wooden structure house. This was officially handed over to him on August 29, just two months after his lifelong partner died.

At the handing over, Dr Morais Guy, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing, said his ministry was pleased to have been able to contribute to the construction of houses for Chambers and the other recipients in the community who were badly affected by Hurricane Sandy.

"I am pleased to be a part of this initiative, because it goes to the very core of the social need of every human being, that is the need for a roof to be over his head," said Guy.

Guy was supported by David Mair, executive director of Food for the Poor Jamaica, who said, Chambers, being a needy, now single father, as his common-law wife died recently, was deserving of the house.

"When Food for the Poor saw his previous living condition, we had to assist him. He was in dire need of a new house, based on the condition of the house he occupied with his family," said Mair.

"I strongly believe that the nation cannot be truly productive without the provision of adequate shelter for its people, especially for the less fortunate and most vulnerable.," added Mair.