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Another bleak Christmas for Ste Madeleine father and son
Last Christmas, the story of a Ste Madeleine man and his son living in a tent inside their burnt-out home touched the hearts of many T&T Guardian readers. Promises were made by government agencies to rebuild their home. However, a year later, Allan Maloney and his son Daniel are still huddled in the same fire-ravaged house waiting for the help they were promised.
“I don’t know what to say. I just fed up. I don’t know what to tell my son any more. If somebody told me a year ago that another Christmas would meet us I wouldn’t have believed them. I can’t believe this thing,” said a despondent Maloney. Saturday made it a year since fire destroyed their home at 78 Manahambre Road. “I was asked if I wanted a house (HDC) or if I wanted to rebuild here. I should ah tell them I want a house because look how long and nothing happening,” he said when the T&T Guardian visited him.
Maloney and his son are living under the same conditions of a year ago. The only difference is that Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) workers cleared out the rubble and they are sleeping on a bed. When a news team from the T&T Guardian visited the burnt-out structure, the room was dark, had a clammy atmosphere and gave off a musty odour. There is no water, electricity, bathroom or toilet. In spite of their wretched living conditions, Daniel is flourishing, says his father.
“He really doing good in school. When he got a rash and had to stay home for about two weeks, he cry to go to school.” Cuddling a kitten named Fur, given to him by his teacher, Daniel said his bed gets wet when it rains. “The water runs down from the wall and wet the edge of the bed,” the father explained. With no stove or fridge, Maloney said he sometimes goes by a neighbour and cooks. “Sometimes he eat Chinese. He don’t eat much,” he said of his son. He has also applied for a food card but says he is getting the runaround.
Anyone willing to help can contact Maloney at 379-8711.
Maloney and his son lost all their belongings when the fire gutted their two-storey home. When his plight was highlighted last December, good Samaritans came to their rescue, paying for them to stay at Kapok Hotel in Port-of-Spain for Christmas. Then soca singer Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez stepped in. She paid for them to stay in an apartment for two months. It was expected that their house would have been rebuilt by then. In February, the two-month rental agreement expired and Maloney and his son returned to the burnt-out house.
Why has nothing changed?
The National Commission for Self Help provided construction materials through a $20,000 grant, after delays with paperwork. The URP promised to provide labour to rebuild the house. Maloney, 55, a fridge and stove repairman, said he felt relieved when he saw materials being dropped off. When the URP told him workmen were coming to start construction, Maloney said he and his son stayed by a neighbour for a few days. But no work was done and thieves stole the aluminium door frame and doorknobs.
As for the rest of the materials, he said: “Most of the gravel and sand wash away now, the cement get hard, the nails rusty. The galvanise good still. I don’t know what to say.” The T&T Guardian was told initially by URP Princes Town regional manager Indira Katwaroo that scaffolding was needed. But then Stork Technical Services donated the scaffolding and left it there for months. The T&T Guardian was then told that URP could not start work because no bricks were provided.
Self Help chairman Surujdeo Mangaroo said the list of materials submitted to the commission, did not include bricks and the $20,000 grant had already been spent. However, Mangaroo said yesterday he organised the bricks, but the problem is that they cannot get in contact with Maloney for them.
“The hardware will not drop it off unless he signs for it. Mr Kevin Williams went by the gentleman on two occasions and he was not there. And we cannot reach him on the phone number we have on our system,” he added.
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