By Anesta Henry
The Haitians who were evicted from a four-bedroom house at Bonnetts, Brittons Hill, St Michael, last Thursday night, have been moved to the Salvation Army, Reed Street, Hostel.
Nine of the 15 young men who were evicted, were taken to the Hostel on Saturday evening.
Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong, told Barbados TODAY that he was unsure about the length of time the men, between the ages of 21 and 36, would be allowed to stay at that location.
But he thanked the Salvation Army’s management for having the caring Christian spirit to readily agree to help the Haitians, and for also having the initiative to establish the Hostel and Feeding Centre to serve the needs of the needy and impoverished human beings.
“I must say that I am very impressed. Imagine if every church in Barbados had a similar philosophy and was engaged in humanitarian outreach efforts, imagine what a society we would have. So really, kudos to the Salvation Army. This is a religious institution that deserves the support of the Barbadian people,” he said.
While making it clear that the young men are not in Barbados illegally, having been granted six months to stay on the island as visitors, Ambassador Comissiong said the appeal for financial support to purchase return tickets for members of the group, is still in effect. He said it would cost approximately BDS $600 to send one person back to their homeland. Most of their tickets have expired.
“So, either those funds are going to have to come in from relatives in Haiti, who may very well not have the money because a lot of the Haitians coming here come from poor back grounds. Or, we are going to have to see how, through the generosity of the Barbadian community, we can help them. So between myself and Reverend David Durant, we would definitely appreciate any kind-hearted Barbadians to offer them some assistance.”
“The whole idea must be for some of them to get back home to Haiti as soon as possible, since they really don’t have the resources to remain here in Barbados. The sooner, the better, because since they really don’t have the resources to be here, they are depending on the charity of the Army and Barbadians. So they really need to return home as soon as possible. This is not the first set of Haitians who have found themselves in this problem, and our experience has been that Barbadians have assisted,” the Ambassador said.
Comissiong indicated that the young men would also need assistance with food supplies, since the Salvation Army only offer lunch at the Feeding Centre.
“So we are asking Barbadians to donate some food items to help them,” said Comissiong, who made a personal contribution to the young men to purchase food items for breakfast and dinner.
The men said they have come to Barbados in search of a better life. Almost all of them reported that they were the victims of a scam where they paid between US $2500 and 3000, to an agency in Haiti, with the assurance they would receive accommodation and jobs when they landed in Barbados.
However, upon arrival, they found out that the promises were all lies, since they found no jobs and had to pay for accommodation. They have exhausted their finances.
They were evicted by landlord Anthony Mayers, who told Barbados TODAY that he was fed up with the condition the house was being kept in. The landlord also complained that while he charged the men BDS $1300 including light and water, within one month, the water bill had reached BDS$1200.
After they were put on the streets, the Haitians were rescued by former Government Senator and Chairman of the National Assistance Board (NAB), Reverend Pastor Dr David Durant, who took them to his Restoration Ministries Church where they were accommodated and fed until they were moved to the hostel.
Durant who accompanied the men to the Hostel, told Barbados TODAY that one kindhearted Barbadian has pledged to bring BDS$1 500 to assist with the purchasing of return tickets, and he has already donated food items.
“So it seems like Barbadians would help these young people, because we are all CARICOM, and we are not that uncaring a nation. I am glad for the response so far. We will continue to monitor them, we will continue to give, and we will stand with the Salvation Army in helping them through the process,” Durant said.
Through a translator, the young men thanked Ambassador Comissiong, Reverend Durant, and the Salvation Army for the assistance they have been given thus far. Initially, several of them were concerned that they were taken to the hostel to be deported.
However, relaxed faces appeared when Comissiong assured them that they were on the island legally, but warned them that they were prohibited from working. (AH)