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A house at last - Food For the Poor and others respond to needy family

Published:Sunday | March 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Yvonne Reid (right) and her common-law husband Earnest Clarke are all smiles as they stand in front of their new house.
Yvonne Reid (right) and her common-law husband Ernest Clarke look at the delapidated structure they once called home.

Yvonne Reid's wish to have a proper house to call home by Christmas last year was not granted, but two months later her dream of moving into a house that was not flooded every time it rains has finally come true.

Reid's deplorable living condition at the three-bedroom board structure she occupied with her common-law husband Ernest Clarke, five grandchildren and mentally ill son on Crescent Road in St Andrew was highlighted by The Sunday Gleaner last December, and several persons in Jamaica and abroad pledged to assist.

"I would just like a house. As you can see, this one is no good. When it rains, it pours in," she told our news team a few days before Christmas 2014.

Among those who responded to Reid's cry for help was the local charity group Food For The Poor (FFP) which, in collaboration with the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme, started the process of getting her and her family a house.

Construction of the new two-bedroom structure started just a few weeks after the publication of the story and was completed in February. The family finally got to move in last week and is still trying to add their personal touch.

"I am so glad because most of all when rain falls now, anywhere I am I don't have to fret, I know that my bed not wetting and I know that the house not wetting, and nowhere not wetting; we have a dry house. If I am even in my bed at nights and rain start falling, the most I can do is cover up more, because I don't have to get up and lean up my bed or lean up my mattress."


sleeping arrangements


Reid, who had to take in her five grandchildren after her two daughters died, said she is happy that the children now have better sleeping arrangements. In addition to the two rooms, the house also comes with a loft and so the family has adequate space for three beds.

"Everything is nice! What we couldn't afford, other people come in. Somebody gave us a fridge, someone gave us a TV. We got a bed. All we really need now most of all is a little dining table that the children can get to sit around to really have them food, instead of having to sit on the ground or with them plate in their hand," she said.

The house also has a bathroom and kitchenette, and Reid noted that her grandchildren are so excited that they have started to make their own breakfast and assist with preparing meals. The family is also able to sit on their donated couch and watch television together.

Director of construction ser-vices at FFP, Ron Burgess, said that construction of the house took a while because they had to make sure that no one would come and claim it after it is built. Reid currently leases the land the house is on.

"We had to make sure the documents were completely okay, because we have had cases where we have built the house, only to hear somebody claiming it because we shouldn't have built on the land and all manner of things," said Burgess.

According to Burgess, it cost about $800,000 to build the house which is equipped with a sewerage system, a water tank and solar energy to power at least three light bulbs.