An 88-year-old woman and her mentally challenged son were left with nowhere to lay their heads tonight, after the house in which they have lived for virtually their entire lives was today ripped apart as a result of a court order.
Edmunda Gittens of Kendal Hill, Christ Church cried as the sound of metal tools was heard tearing her house down, and workmen dumped the remnants onto trucks, while her personal treasures amassed over many years lay bare in the front yard.
Gittens, who looked on helplessly as marshals executed the court order to remove her house from the lot, told Barbados TODAY she had lived in the wooden structure since she was five years old. However, the landowners recently served her with notice of eviction.
“I ain’t feel good, I feel bad. It hurt because I here from five years old. Last week I was sick and the one here that [her mentally challenged son] he had to carry me to the bathroom because I was in pain. I don’t know where I am going to go because I ain’t got nowhere and I would be glad for somewhere,” a tearful Gittens said.
The octogenarian said she had six other children, all of whom have families and homes of their own.
Yet, she was unsure where she would sleep tonight, a suggestion that none of the six would take her in.
Daughter Juliette Walters, who was on the scene frantically attempting to rescue her mother’s belongings, told Barbados TODAY that she and her siblings were “waiting for help” from Member of Parliament Stephen Lashley, from whom they had sought assistance some six months ago.
“I made some calls to him since last October but nobody has responded, so this is where it is at right now, and she doesn’t have anywhere to go now. So we trying to see if we could find some place to put her up,” Walters said.
Asked why none of Gittens’ children would take her in, Walters was not inclined to discuss the subject.
The daughter’s position did not sit well with Chairman of the National Assistance Board David Durant, who turned up at the family’s request to determine if and how his organization could assist the elderly woman.
A visibly upset Durant questioned why Gittens’ children did not intervene sooner to prevent the indignity which befell their mother.
“This is the part that I am really disappointed with because only a few days ago I mentioned that I wished families would become first responders when their elderly family are in these unfortunate situations. I think the sons and daughters should really come on board and do whatever they can to help a mother. So that is what is hurting me right now.
“You cannot depend on Government for everything and you cannot depend on the representative for everything as well, especially when there are so many family members around. It is not fair to ask Government to hand feed everybody; we have to accept responsibility for our elderly, regardless of what the elderly mother or father may have done. We have to forgive them,” Durant stressed.
The NAB chairman told Barbados TODAY his immediate concern was finding temporary accommodation for Gittens, as well as a place to store her belongings.
“She has to have some place to stay tonight. Also we are going to have to find some place to store her things because if her valuables are left outside tonight they would be gone,” added Durant, who reiterated his call for Government to provide NAB with land upon which to construct houses for emergencies.