Seventy-one-year-old Ordene Forde could soon wake up from her perennial nightmare to a home fit for habitation.
Following the publication by Barbados TODAY earlier this week of a story about the squalid conditions which the Bibby’s Lane, St Michael pensioner must endure, the National Assistance Board (NAB) is promising Forde an improved standard of living.
NAB Chairman Dr David Durant and Acting Welfare Officer Kayrene Healis today visited the elderly woman and discovered that her description of her condition as “a state of horror” was just about right.
“The house needs repairs. The roof is gone and the termites have carried away the rafters, the galvanize is not stable and any intense winds will take the roof completely off, exposing her to more danger,” Durant, a Government senator, said as he examined the dwelling.
“Therefore, we will have to make representation through the relevant agencies from our end to make sure that the roof is repaired first.
“Now, as we are standing inside of her living room [the] floor is unstable as well. The rat infestation will be taken care of through the Environmental Health [Department] and repairs to the house, we will make sure it is taken through our end to the relevant authorities,” he added.
Barbados TODAY stumbled upon Forde’s home on Tuesday while traversing the area and was introduced to little more than a skeleton of a home overrun by rodents and its ceiling virtually eaten off by wood ants.
The floor was decorated with rat droppings, and she had described her shaky wooden panels as an accident waiting to happen.
She had also revealed how she would cry herself to sleep at night in the hope that she would somehow awaken to a better and brighter tomorrow, only to wake up to the recurring nightmare over the past four years, with her hope turning to despair and utter frustration, as no help had been forthcoming.
“Right now, I am living in a state of horror, the rats and other things coming in here at night and it got me fed up,” she had said.
“I called down at Rural and Urban [Development] Commission and got the run around, and nobody ain’t look at me. I am suffering real bad; my ceiling dropping down and rat droppings coming from it. Sometimes I don’t pay it any mind. I do not know who to call for help because no one is helping me,” she had said with unmistakable pain in her voice.
The NAB today said it would tackle the rodent problem, with Healis promising to ask the Environmental Health Department to provide rat bait and follow up to ensure the conditions improve.
Healis also vowed to have a private discussion with Forde to ascertain her economic condition in order to determine the level of assistance the welfare agency would offer, while she advised the septuagenarian to visit the Eunice Gibson Polyclinic to check for leptospirosis.
Meantime, Durant said the elderly woman ought to be relocated ahead of any possible hurricane activity.
“We will see how fast the agencies that are responsible for this can work because we do not know when any strong wind will blow, so we will do our best to stoke that fire, get action quickly in light of the dire circumstances that she is in and our assistance to the housing and her health,” he said.
The NAB boss also questioned whether the pensioner had any children and why they had not come to her assistance.
However, Forde interrupted to explain that of her four children, one lives in a semi-dilapidated structure next door and is a longtime patient of the Psychiatric Hospital, while the other three also faced socio-economic problems and were barely able to meet their rent payments.