No more leaking roof or ‘forty legs’
Joy unspeakable as Bog Walk family gets new home
Four-year-old Kelecia Gayle and her two-year-old brother, Majeed-Selvin Thompson, could not contain their joy following the handover of a new one-bedroom home with a kitchen, bathroom, and verandah, to their family.
The two jumped on the bed for several minutes as their mother, Janell Mannings, 26, looked on with a radiant smile.
Mannings and her children had been living in an unstable board house with a zinc roof in West Prospect, Bog Walk, St Catherine.
“When rain falls, it leaks. One time we fell through the floor because it’s a board floor and a centipede, otherwise known as ‘forty leg’, was on the bed with us. My daughter was saying ‘snake!’ and was flashing about, but when I looked, it was a ‘forty leg’,” the mother recounted.
Mannings said the family also had to tiptoe around gaping holes in the floor. She was especially dreading the last hurricane season, which would possibly see her family becoming homeless.
Her story seeking assistance was published in The STAR last July and shortly after, YouTuber Sasha-Lee Lounds visited her and published a video on social media.
It was Lounds’ video that got the attention of chief executive officer of First Union Group of Companies, Lloyd Campbell, as young Kelecia expressed her dream of having a dollhouse.
Campbell said he was grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the family.
“It really is heart-rending to have seen the conditions under which they were living, and we could not turn away from the situation. There are so many needs to be filled, and we are happy to have played a part, which is an ethos by which First Union Group operates,” he said, urging other companies to get involved in similar initiatives.
Mannings is most grateful that the new home has a bathroom and a kitchen.
“Mi can actually bathe inside. When me dung suh, me did haffi cross the road fi go over mi fada fi use him bathroom. I can do everything inside of my home now,” said a smiling Mannings.
The mother added that the house will make a big difference in her life and that of her children as it is much safer and they now have space to play.
“I was asking for just one-ply board room, and God has done this. I am excited, overjoyed, and I’m grateful as well,” the mother of two said.
The land on which the house sits belongs to her mother, while the furniture was purchased using the donations she received from a number of people.
Young Kelecia was also gifted with a dollhouse, which features a kitchen. It is situated just outside of the entrance of the home.
“I like the stove. I can cook meat and rice, but I don’t have any vegetables to cook in the pot,” the four-year-old said.
Member of Parliament for St Catherine North Central Natalie Neita shared that the mother had reached out to her office some time ago, asking for help.
“She would certainly be on a list of hundreds of persons who are in need of this kind of assistance. I might have gotten to her some time next year or the year after or not at all based on the demands that are placed on the office of the member of parliament,” she said.
Neita said she was elated when she learnt that First Union would be stepping in to help the family.
“This gesture goes beyond just providing this family with a home. It shows me the depth and the character of your institution. To the Mannings family, you have gotten a good start. God has been good,” she said.
Neita has committed to completing the pit for the home to make the bathroom fully functional.
The new home owner is currently unemployed and has been surviving on donations.
Mannings is seeking suitable employment to provide for her family and maintain the home.