After several years of living in deplorable conditions and pleading with authorities for a new dwelling, Marlene Bourne, 58, is the proud owner of a new place to call home.
Minister of Social Care and Constituency Empowerment Steve Blackett Tuesday morning handed Bourne the keys to a brand new three-bedroom house, which was provided under the Implementation Stabilization Enablement and Empowerment (ISEE) bridge programme of 2012, established to tackle intergenerational poverty.
It forms part of a wider poverty alleviation and reduction programme introduced some eight years ago, to assist Barbadians in desperate need of housing but who were unable to help themselves.
About 48 homes have either been repaired or rebuilt, each in the range of a “standard budget” of just over $70,000 under the programme, with another eight to be completed by the end of this year.
The new wooden structure which Bourne now occupies took just under five weeks to construct at the cost of $74,000, and was erected on the spot where the old broken down house was located in the Parish Land, Christ Church community, in the Christ Church East constituency.
An elated Bourne said she would continue to share the dwelling with at least four of her grandchildren.
The former maid, landscaper, cheese maker and field worker gave birth to eight children, seven of whom are still alive.
“I feel great because the condition was bad,” said a shy Bourne, who has lived at the spot for more than ten years.
“I thank them for all that they have done for me,” she added.
Blackett said he did not hesitate when Member of Parliament for the area Dr Denis Lowe approached him after identifying Bourne as a deserving recipient under the programme.
Lowe, too, said he was happy that after “a long and arduous journey” for the Bourne family – one of the largest in his constituency –– they could now rest comfortably.
“They have consistently been supportive of the community and certainly today I am sure that many hearts are made glad because of the efforts of the Ministry of Social Care in providing this well deserving solution for the well deserving family,” said Lowe, recalling that the previous structure was “grossly dilapidated” and “you couldn’t walk through comfortably without being afraid to fall in”.
Postman Ricardo Benjamin has been delivering mail in the area for just over 15 years. An elated Benjamin told Barbados TODAY he was pleased that Bourne had received a new place to lay her head, given the condition of her previous dwelling.
“This makes me feel like, ‘wow’!” he exclaimed. “She is a good woman,” he added.
With Government facing a fiscal deficit and exploring ways to cut spending, Benjamin suggested that the provision of housing for those in need should continue.
“I don’t feel people in Barbados should be hungry and the Government spending money on this and money on that. They have some things that could definitely wait, but you see housing, that is a good thing,” Benjamin said.