Portland relief fund needs support
More than 30 residents of eastern parishes whose houses were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy have been given new houses through the private relief fund launched days after the disaster.
However, scores of others remain without a roof over their heads and still in need.
Chairman of the fund Dr André Foote last week appealed to corporate Jamaica and private individuals not to forget the persons who continue to suffer almost three months after the hurricane.
"It happens all the time when there is a disaster. In the immediate aftermath there is a flourish, but over time we forget the people who are suffering," Foote told The Sunday Gleaner.
"It does not cost a lot of money, (approx. J$600,000), to construct one of the houses being built by Food For the Poor and corporate entities and individuals can follow the lead of the Curran family who recently donated two houses to persons in Portland," added Foote.
He noted that the Portland Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, which was extended to St Mary and St Thomas, has already pulled in close to $10 million in contributions, which has been matched by Food For The Poor.
This has resulted in 10 families in St Thomas and 10 in St Mary having their houses replaced with 12 families in Portland also getting new houses.
"We are on target as the process to verify and make sure that everything is in place has to be done by Food For The Poor, which does not want to tarnish its excellent reputation but we need more support," said Foote.
His comments were endorsed by Member of Parliament for West Portland Daryl Vaz who conceptualised the fund.
Vaz noted that the Diageo Foundation ($6M) and Supreme Ventures ($3M) have so far been the big donors to the fund.
"It is remarkable that with only two corporate entities really coming on board, we have been able to build 32 houses. It simply goes to show that if we get the full support of corporate Jamaica we can turn 30 into 300 houses," said Vaz.
He pointed to the Curran family, who postponed Christmas 2012 celebrations and instead assisted with the construction of two houses at Grants Gate in Portland, as proof of what can be done.
According to Vaz, he is satisfied with the operation of the fund even though he has stayed far from its day-to-day running.
"This is not about me. I'm not in politics for self gratification. I do it out of a passion to work for my country and improve the lives of the less fortunate."