'The perfect Christmas gift' - Some Portland residents left homeless by Hurricane Sandy get new houses
Gareth Davis Sr, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Having lost everything during the passage of Hurricane Sandy in October, Shelly Ann White, a mother of four, was elated last Friday when she was handed the keys to a new two-bedroom house in Portland.
White, whose house was demolished in Fruitful Vale and her furniture and electrical appliances destroyed, was among one of four recipients of housing units donated by Food For the Poor (FFP), through a shared initiative with Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) and the Portland Hurricane Relief Fund.
She also received two beds, a two-burner gas stove, six blankets, two boxes of clothing, and a solar lamp, from FFP.
Executive director of FFP, Jacqueline Johnson, noted that a number of communities in Portland were ravaged by Sandy, prompting the launch of the fund, with her organisation being asked to be the facilitator of the money raised.
"SVL injected $3 million and we decided to use the money to rebuild persons' houses. With that injection from them (SVL), along with donations from other corporate entities, we were able to build 15 homes.
"Our chairman said at that launch that FFP would match those 15 homes, and, therefore, we have been building 30 homes: 10 in Saint Thomas, 10 in Portland, and 10 in Saint Mary," said Johnson.
And Carlene Edwards, senior communications office at SVL, pointed out that it was really a pleasure for the company to get on board, as it was deeply moved by the many cries and appeals for help that had to be answered to speedily.
"Efforts of this kind allow us to pull together," said Edwards.
"It's an effort for us to give back to the less fortunate and to the people of Jamaica who have supported us over the years."
In the meantime, member of parliament for West Portland, Daryl Vaz, is urging other affected residents to exercise patience.
According to Vaz, distribution of hurricane-relief supplies is a process where everyone will not get attention at the same time.
He noted that there are a number of persons in the Fruitful Vale area who suffered major losses, and who are yet to have their houses replaced.
"It's a pleasure to know that we are able to complete some houses before Christmas," said Vaz.
"The construction of houses for those ravaged by the hurricane will resume in January. I am appealing to persons to realise that there is an ongoing assessment and phases. It is not an easy task to coordinate these relief efforts, and I am urging the greedy to allow the needy to benefit from the relief efforts."
White expressed thanks and appreciation to all the parties involved, and pledged to take great care of her new house, which she described as the perfect Christmas present.