It has been nearly seven years of waiting on the Rural Development Commission (RDC) for a Shorey Village, St Andrew woman whose home was destroyed by Tropical Storm Tomas in 2010.
And according to Teresa Walkes, 33, the wait seems far from over, as neither the RDC nor Minister of Housing Denis Kellman is responding to her cry for help.
When the storm – which later became a deadly hurricane – struck Barbados in late October, 2010, the house that Walkes had called home from the time she was 18 years old was among the damage and destruction left in its wake.
Tomas dismantled the galvanized roof and the sides of the wooden structure caved in, forcing the then 26-year-old to turn to the RDC for refuge.
She and her two sons, now 16 and 18, were placed in a one-bedroom Government house in Babylon Road, St Andrew, and were assured their stay would be temporary and the state agency would rebuild her home, the woman told Barbados TODAY.
All these years later the single mother and her children still occupy what has become cramped accommodation, she said, and promises have not been kept.
“[The Minister of Housing] said call him he could help me with the material. Every time I call him back the secretary is saying he’s not in the office. He doesn’t take my calls and he doesn’t even check back to see if anything happened, and I still have the same problem,” Walkes complained.
“I see him come at my workplace on a regular basis and I don’t even feel good asking him because I don’t think I should keep asking and begging for the same thing over and over. If it was that important to him he would have noted it somewhere, that he would have remembered,” the former Ministry of Transport and Works labourer added.
Currently working as a waitress at Couture Caterers, Walkes said she was burdened with having to pay rent for the house provided by the RDC, taking care of her sons, both of whom attend the Daryll Jordan Secondary School and are graduating this year, and making ends meet to pay for utilities, all on minimum wage.
She said she had been forced to shelve plans to construct a house because she simply did not have the money.
“I don’t want to go out there and sell my soul or I don’t want go and thief anything from anybody because that is not me. I asking for a little help. I am not asking you to put me in a five bedroom house when I had a two,” she said in frustration.
Walkes said she had a difficult time understanding why the RDC could not find her more comfortable housing when there were vacant houses across the country.
“You have two bedroom homes and three bedroom houses all over Barbados that are put on spots that they are trying to sell. Why put somebody with two children in a one bedroom?
“There are houses that they can’t get some sell, nobody is buying them, so you are just going to let them stand there and deteriorate too? That doesn’t make any sense when there are people that need help,” she stressed.
Walkes reiterated that it was tough sharing such limited space with her sons, one of whom sleeps on the floor.
“I don’t want help with food or anything, so I just want to get back what is mine. I just want to be comfortable . . . . I am not comfortable in that one bedroom [house],” she stated.
“If I had the money, I wouldn’t be here, I would go and do my own house because I did it myself, but I can’t afford it,” Walkes said while adding that she did not know where next to turn.
Barbados TODAY made several attempts to reach RDC Director Derek Alleyne but was unsuccessful up to the time of publication.