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PM’s constituents still homeless

Three weeks later...
Monday, July 14, 2014
Fire victim Radhica Jaisaree, right, with her family at the La Costena Activity centre Penal Rock Road Friday. PHOTOs: KRISTIAN DE SILVA

Teenage mother Nicole Cedeno still bathes her five-month-old baby Keyshawn Kinsale in cold water in a bucket at the back of the La Costena Activity Centre, three weeks after their home went up in flames. The child’s bathtub and all their other belongings were destroyed in the fire on June 30 at Penal Rock Road, which falls in the Prime Minister’s Siparia constituency. 



Cedeno was one of 12 people left homeless in the blaze. Her mother, Radhica Jaisaree, said while they were thankful for shelter at the centre, she was concerned that people were watching them while they bathed, ate and slept. The centre is outfitted with state-of-the-art surveillance cameras and Jaisaree said while her daughters were bathing, the cameras would often come on.


“I went to the Prime Minister’s constituency office to complain, because we do not know who controls the cameras, and they told us to block off the cameras by turning it away to the wall or throwing a piece of cloth over it,” Jaisaree explained. She said the Ministry of Social Development offered to pay $7,500 rent for three months but landlords were unwilling to accept them as tenants.


“People don’t want to take us in because we have so many children. Others told us that they will have to wait a long time for government to pay the rent and they not willing to take us in,” Jaisaree added. Meanwhile, she said the village council executive has been visiting every day asking when the family planned to leave the centre. 



Jaisaree’s daughter-in-law Stacy, who is a teacher at Morne Diablo RC school, was also left homeless, along with her ailing husband Desmond Jaisaree,  and their children Christopher, 15, Christian, 14, and Christiano, aged three. Stacy said since the fire she has been seeking help from the Minister of Housing Dr Roodal Moonilal and chairman of the National Self Help Commission Surujdeo Mangaroo. 



“Mr Mangaroo is willing to sign off on our documents but we have to get the fire report and that is taking some time,” Stacy said. She said they were hoping to rebuild their home. “It is really frustrating living in the activity centre. We want to have our own home once again. We hope that the government could give us a home, even if it is temporary, so we can move out of the centre and give it back to the village council to continue their normal activities,” Stacy said. 


Moonilal could not be reached for comment, as calls to his cellphone went unanswered. 


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