The pictures speak more powerfully than a thousand words. They are pictures of an old wooden, wobbly shack long past its expiry date, with visible spaces between the apparently rotting, uneven boards and a leaky roof, clearly unable to provide sufficient protection from howling winds or driving rains.
It is the termite infested home in which Barbados’ latest centenarian Clement Whitstanley Holdipp spends uncomfortable days and intolerable nights, and it is badly in need of repair.
So bad is the situation that the blind man’s centenary celebration with Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave could not be held at his Dash Valley, St George home and had to be moved to his daughter’s home.
Holdipp did not say much about his living condition, preferring to focus on how blessed he felt to reach 100-years-old.
Family members gave Barbados TODAY a tour of the tired, worn and rickety structure, struggling to maintain its balance, as they pleaded for help to have it repaired.
Inside, the bed was well made, but it masked the reality of holes in the walls and the roof and displaced boards in the flooring.
There are no bathroom facilities inside, and relatives said he had been forced to use a night chair. He receives a bath right next to his bed where the water is usually stored in a pan.
Holdipp, who is unable to stand on his own, spends most of his days in bed and cannot use a walker or walking stick for support because the displaced boards from the wooden floor.
Still, the elderly man, who has been living at the location “long before hurricane Janet”, has refused to move, according to relatives.
“He always saying this is his home, but I hope after you put this out that people could at least help a little. I don’t like to see him living like this and if I bring him over by me for some time he always ready to go back home. So please for some help for him,” his daughter Lenora Brooks pleaded.
Brooks, who is her father’s caretaker, said the house was in even worse shape but she used her limited funds to carry out minor repairs in an attempt to make living a little more comfortable for her dad.
“I try to do it so because the water was really pouring in and people used to see in. It was very bad. Up to now it is still bad. The roof needs changing,” Brooks said.
She told Barbados TODAY relatives have contacted relevant authorities seeking help but their efforts have so far proved futile, and on his 100th birthday they are making another plea help.
The latest appeal was to the Governor General from family friend Elaine Gooding, who had written to the head of state asking him to visit the centenarian, and who emphasized Holdipp’s plight during today’s visit.
“He was a labourer and because of his hard work I think that [he should receive] some of the good things that attain other people. I would be very delighted to see if they can have the repairs effective as soon as possible,” Gooding said, noting that it has been a while since she contacted various Government agencies requesting help for the elderly man.
Sir Elliott advised her to contact Member of Parliament for the area Santia Bradshaw.
When contacted, Bradshaw said she was unaware of the matter but would investigate it.
However, after she was provided with details, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party parliamentarian spoke of other people in the area who suffered similar plights, many with no outdoor toilets.
Bradshaw said some had requested assistance from social care agencies but had not been able to get the requested help because of disputes surrounding land ownership.
Meanwhile, Holdipp’s family members did their best to ensure that he had a special day. He received visits from old friends and was treated to a birthday cake. And when the celebration was over, he was lifted back to the squalid conditions.