There has been an outpouring of public support –– both at home and abroad –– following the publication this week by Barbados TODAY of Harriett Hackett’s story.
The mother, who is in her 40s, made a public appeal for help on Tuesday on behalf of her four boys and five girls, who are between the ages of six and 19 and whose living conditions at My Lord’s Hill, St Michael, may best be described as “horrible”.
With their house in dire need of repair and stricken with a leaky roof, the mother and her children are literally exposed to the elements. with no clean sheets, pillow or bed. The unemployed Hackett, who is on welfare, has also been finding it difficult to provide food for her little ones, some of whom have had to sleep on sponge on the floor, because of lack of bed space, sheets and pillows.
Since publication of her exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY’S Anesta Henry this week, the company’s offices have been inundated with calls and emails from individuals and groups with offers of help.
One such person is Cathy-Ann Gill, a concerned resident who grew up in the same community as Hackett, and who said she had personally helped the Hackett family in the past.
However, since her plight was highlighted, Gill has now assembled a small group of individuals and supporting companies to help Harriett Hackett.
So far, a Facebook group has been launched under the same banner (Help Harriett Hackett) to garner support from anyone who wishes to assist the struggling St Michael family.
A fund-raising event will be held Saturday at St Giles School from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., which Gill said was open to anyone who wished to contribute to the cause.
A very grateful Hackett, who has eight children living with her and a 19-year-old, who is now on her own, told Barbados TODAY she was looking forward to tomorrow’s fund-raiser.
She expressed her gratitude to members of the Barbados TODAY team, especially reporter Anesta Henry, for sharing her story, and driver Maria Bascombe, who has been helping her to move around.
“I have been getting a lot of calls from people asking my children’s ages, what size clothes they wear, as well as their shoes sizes. At this stage, we would be happy with any help we can get,” Hackett said, while admitting that her ultimate goal was for her children to have a better home.
The construction firm Innotech has already come to the family’s rescue.
Amanda Thompson, personal assistant to company chairman Anthony DaSilva, who personally visited the Hackett home on Wednesday and donated $2,500 in food vouchers, said the construction company’s efforts would be concentrated on “what the family needs and what their requirements are”.
Chairman of the Barbados Vagrants & Homeless Society, Kemar Saffrey, who also visited the Hackett home earlier today, intends to be part of Saturday’s fund-raiser; so too Opposition Barbados Labour Party MP for the area, Trevor Prescod.
Saffrey said the current conditions of the family could best be termed “homeless”.
“We are looking at creating something that they’ll be on their own and that they can manage on their own after a period of time ,” he said, adding: “We don’t just want to add to the fact that people are giving, but to deal with the long-term goal for the family: how are they going to survive, two, three months later after things die down?
“So that is our main focus right now,” Saffrey said.
“The aim would obviously be to relocate her and her family . . . because the conditions are very unsuitable. But, as I said, we’re still waiting to see what we can do,” Saffrey told Barbados TODAY.