Urgent assistance is being sought for a 39-year-old woman living in squalor at Diamond Valley in St Philip while battling multiple severe medical conditions.
Katura Luke, a former geriatric nurse suffers with kidney failure, asthma, anemia, diabetes and a hole in her heart which have prevented her from working for more than a year.
Adding insult to injury is the single mother’s constant struggle to provide food, shelter and other essential supplies for her four daughters in a dilapidated house with no electricity, stove, running water or beds.
The peculiar predicament is also said to be exposing the young girls – ages three, 17 and a nine-year-old twin to “severe domestic injustices”.
From floor to ceiling, the small house is filled with plastic bottles, styrofoam containers, plastic bags, boxes and dirty clothes, which surround at least two make-shift sponge mattresses on the floor where the four daughters sleep.
When it rains, those items become wet and soggy as a caving roof exposes the family of five to the elements, especially during the hurricane season.
Luke’s unfortunate plight caught the attention of popular social media influencer Jordan English over a week ago as he provided assistance to families struggling through the country’s coronavirus situation.
But a “very serious domestic situation” that unfolded on Sunday night which resulted in the hospitalization of the teenage daughter exposed a glaring need for more assistance beyond mere food.
“We came here maybe two weeks ago and left her with about seven chickens, cereals and a whole heap of stuff, but because we were on the run, we didn’t really stop. However, last night a situation occurred and that is when we really understood the full extent of what has been happening,” said English, who declined to speak further on the domestic issues.
He explained: “I don’t want to go much deeper, but just know that there are numerous injustices that come with being this poor, because if you are poor and hungry, you are getting it by any means. If you could read between the lines, just know that there are a number of domestic injustices that come with this.”
At first, the 39-year-old mother who often collects and returns bottles for recycling money was reluctant to discuss her challenges but eventually acknowledged that although she is “an independent person”, the house is currently “in a bad condition”.
“If the rain falls, this house leaks. In my bed last year during the hurricane season, the front window blew out and the entire place was flooded. This house is in bad condition,” she repeated.
While the struggling mother recently received a food hamper from parliamentary representative Indar Weir, she is eagerly awaiting another $600 from him as part of contributions from the Sandy Lane Trust.
“Indar Weir tells me he will talk to different people and call me back. Right now I am supposed to get a bottle of bedside oxygen and a portable one. I am told that he has everything, but I am not getting anything,” Luke added.
Efforts to reach Weir on Monday evening were unsuccessful.
Katura explained that the twin’s father died of cancer five years ago. During her frequent visits to the hospital, she would entrust the children to the care of a family friend. But an instance of “abuse” has made her wary of leaving home for treatment.
Her hospital visits have become even more infrequent with her children now home due to the pandemic.
The children’s access to education is compromised without electricity or access to electronic devices.
Given her underlying health issues, she usually forbids her children from going outside, for fears that she will die if any of the children contract COVID-19 and she becomes infected. She is also unable to collect bottles to recycle as frequently as before.
“Last night when I went with my daughter to the hospital, that was a risk that I had to take because right now, I am a high-risk patient. So technically I am not supposed to leave home or anything like that,” she explained.
Determined to assist, Jordan English, who was preparing to step back from his recent food run will now be committing his efforts to renovating the home and providing electricity and other utilities for the Katura and her children.
“There is no way in these times that anybody should be living like that,” said the social media influencer, who took the three youngest children to his home on Sunday night.
“We carried them to have a bath and watch television. They woke up this morning and ate breakfast and ran around the house and I promised them that we would transform their house to an extent where they could feel comfortable,” he said.
Much of the efforts used by English to gain assistance from corporate Barbados during his food run will now be mobilised to assist Katura and eventually other families living in similar situations.
“We have links and connections to everything we need. We’re just broke. We need money, so if you could come and help us with funds or reach out to your people at Courts and maybe get two televisions for the children, a washing machine, a stove and electricity, because four kids are in here with no electricity every single day,” appealed English.
“Once we come together in unity, it shouldn’t be hard. If it costs ten grand and we can holler at two different people and break it down and strike some corporate deals…. That isn’t much money in the real business world, so I don’t think it should be hard for a few organisations and companies to come and drop off a little cash to put these young ladies in a comfortable position.
“There are many deeper issues that I don’t expect to fix one time. But if we could start with one in each neighborhood and start raising awareness then we could make progress. People who are in a good position and living sweet don’t see this.
“They will never see this unless someone brings them here.”