Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Elderly Four Paths woman gets house

Published:Thursday | June 23, 2016 | 6:12 AMShanique Samuels
Miss Mamas former house where she slept and cooked.
Miss Mamas (second left), speaks with residents who assisted her in building her house.
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FOUR PATHS, Clarendon:

Residents of the Four Paths Settlement in Clarendon joined hands to build a house for an elderly woman whom they say has been living in the community for more than four decades. She is assumed to be about 92 years old and according to the residents, she has no known relatives and neither does anyone know her correct name or where she is from originally, so they just call her 'Miss Mamas'.

Noted community member and businessman Barrington Thomas decided to build a house for the elderly woman after realising that the conditions under which she was living was not fit for human habitation. She lived in an old concrete structure that didn't do much in keeping out the elements of the weather or rodents and insects. She cooked her meals inside the dirty and smelly room where she also slept.

"I always see her on the road, not knowing where she lives so one day I enquired about her and was told she doesn't have any relatives here. Since then, every time I see her, I always ensured she got groceries," Thomas told Rural Xpress. He noted that the catalyst came in Easter, when he decided to get bun and cheese for the less fortunate including Miss Mamas.

"During that time, a lady came to me and said, 'Barry yuh no waa see where Miss Mamas live' so Easter Sunday, I went and I saw for the first time the conditions she was living in and decided right there and then that this can't continue. So I decided this would be my Labour Day project and I suggested it to other community members who didn't hesitate to assist," Thomas told Rural Xpress.

Shortly thereafter, he made contact with Food For the Poor, but had to abandon the plan after the would-be project hit a major snag because they needed proof of ownership of the land before they could build on it. The project eventually got off the ground two days before Labour Day with the contributions from community members who also turned up on the day to assist, but it wasn't finished that day.

"We wanted it to be perfect, not because we wouldn't be the ones living in it, we were going to do it anyhow, so we took the time to make sure it was properly done. The residents really made the effort to assist and I thank them," he said.

 

A DECENT PLACE

 

Aaron Williams was one of the persons who provided labour for the project. "I know Miss Mamas for over 40 years and its always a pleasure seeing her going around the community. She is very strong for her age and does everything for herself. I believe this project is good for the Four Paths community."

Taneisha Rhoden, a representative of Epic Construction who supplied building material, said she was heartened when she saw the new one-bedroom structure with a bathroom and running water and lights, knowing the conditions under which the elderly woman was living before.

"She cooks in the room where she sleeps, she sits on the bed and stirs the pot and that poses a serious fire hazard because she uses the fire from the cooking as light to see until she falls asleep.

Residents gathered at the small handover ceremony recently to witness Miss Mamas transition into her new house, but it was with great difficulty as she was hesitant to move in, but she did after much coaxing.

Other community members are also happy that Miss Mamas was being given a decent place conducive to her needs to live. "The lady came and hug me one day and I felt light, I felt that really she appreciated what we did for her" said Thomas as he beamed with pride.

rural@gleanerjm.com