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Cry for help

Icilma Holford points out the fungus growing on the walls of a bedroom.

For the past seven years, said the Holford family at Lower Burney, St. Michael, they have been complaining to the authorities about the unhealthy and unsafe conditions of their home, which was built on swampy land by the Urban Development Commission.

Yesterday, Icilma Holford, who heads the six-member household, told Barbados TODAY she had reached breaking point and did not know where to turn, after a long-drawn out wait to be relocated.

Holford, who took a team from this newspaper on tour of the wooden house and surrounding property, showed us her 11-year-old grandchild Rashanna Holford, who had been diagnosed with allergic rhinosinusitis, due to fungus growing all over the building.

She said seven year old Jaden Holford was also a victim of the fungus and a constantly overflowing well on the land, which emits an unbearable stench.

The family is also unable to use their front door because the varandah is falling apart due to rot.

“I need to get out of this house. I need to get some help for these children and my family,” she pleaded.

She displayed a copy of a letter written by Democratic Labour Party MP for St. Michael South East, Hamilton Lashley, to the National Housing Corporation asking it to intervene in the family’s behalf. The letter, dated November 28, 2010, said: “I am taking this opportunity to write to your corporation again about a very serious matter that continues to seriously plague the Holford family of Lower Burney, St. Michael.

“This situation stems from the fact that this family of six are residing under some of the most atrocious conditions imaginable. Here is a list of events that has occurred in chronological sequence.

1. This family was resited from Princess Royal Avenue, Pinelands, to Lower Burney by the former management of the UDC in 2006-2007.

2. It was discovered that there was a serious problem of overflowing wells and water, seepage under this house. Hence effected the health of these residents.

3. The RDC, MPW, Ministry of Health united and agreed to an urgent removal of this family to more conducive surroudnings.

4. This was done and they were moved into an apartment/vacant house in this same Lower Burney area, only to realise that this house … was occupied by someone else. So they were moved back to their former location, in 2008 until now, facing the same health problem and other living challenges.

“It is therefore against this background, that I am asking you to please intervene in this matter and bring some relief to this family.”

This letter was written to the chairman of the NHC.

Holford informed Barbados TODAY that the sewage which overflowed from the well went onto a neighbouring property. In spite of being pumped periodically, the constantly overflowing well kept the family’s back yard soggy, bushy and smelly. She said she believed it was just a matter of time before the swiftly deteriorating structure comes tumbling down on them. (EJ)

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