Slippery slope

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Slippery slope

St Mary mother of three in need of house

BY SHARLENE HENDRICKS
Staff reporter
hendrickss@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 26, 2020

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CLOVENA Harris is a mother in need of a house.

Two weeks ago, 39-year-old Harris and her three children had to relocate from their two-room board house in the quiet, farming community of Belfield, St Mary, after recent heavy rains eroded the land beneath the fragile structure.

Although the family has been staying with relatives who live nearby, all of their belongings remain inside the house, which continues to edge closer towards a precipice.

The mother, who is unemployed, said she has nowhere else to go.

“Sometimes mi cry because mi nuh know wah fi do,” said Harris, who was busy tending to her one-year-old when the Jamaica Observer visited the community yesterday.

She explained that during the rainy season exactly one year ago, the first sign that she would need to evacuate the house became obvious when one of the main board columns under the structure gave way.

“One night when mi just have the baby, me and dem inside the house and wi hear the board post under di house pop,” she recounted, explaining that each time it has rained since then, the house slips inches further off the supporting board structures beneath.

“Mi get help from one of my cousin to put up some more board under the house to support it, but when it rain, di water keep shifting di post dem and di house a move wid wi.

“Mi affi take block and try hitch up under the bottom,” the mother said, distress etched on her face.

Harris said she has reached out to the councillor and Member of Parliament for the area, requesting assistance to build a stronger foundation for the house. So far, she said, no one has come to her aid.

“Even in di last election, representatives from both sides come and look at it, and I don't see anybody come back,” Harris said, adding that the family has a title for the property.

As a registered beneficiary of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), the single mother said she manages to provide the bare minimum for her three children.

Her two older daughters, who are 11 and 14 years old, are students of Belfield Primary School and St Mary Technical High School, respectively.

Both girls have benefited from the Government's allocation of tablets, which has eased the mother's stress of not being able to provide the right tools needed for their online schooling.

Harris said she is also now trying to apply for a PATH grant to be able to start her own business.

“Mi used to buy and sell, but about five years ago mi stop because I got sick. But mi really want fi start back mi business, so that I can help myself,” she said.

In the meantime, Harris is asking for assistance with building material to install stronger columns for her house, to save her from losing it altogether.

“Mi really would appreciate the help, because I don't have it. Me and my daughters don't have a home right now, and I am afraid to go back in there,” said Harris.


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