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Walker at the helm as Gov’t starts work on social housing programme

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Walker at the helm as Gov’t starts work on social housing programme

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, June 07, 2019

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The Government has started work on the roll-out of its promised social housing programme to provide shelter for the indigent and upgrade “big yards” in urban areas across the island’s 63 constituencies, beginning with a budget of $1 billion this year.

Danville Walker — who has been appointed national director for the new initiative which is being administered under the Housing, Opportunity, Production, Employment (HOPE) programme — says while it will not be a panacea for the housing needs of the poor, the plan is to continue providing this intervention where the need exists.

“We expect that once we have a sustainable funding mechanism that it can continue until this type of need is finished. We have already looked at some of the solutions, but we may need to be a bit more creative and open-minded about what that solution will be… if you don’t do proper re-engineering then you’re just automating a bad process and that’s true for housing too. I’d like to have a better housing solution, one that will take a bit more planning, build a better community, rather than build a better house or a better board house,” he told the Jamaica Observer a week into the job.

He stressed also that there will be equity and transparency in the process, and that the programme will not be a “raffle”.

“People will have to complete an application form. We don’t have unlimited resources; we expect to have more each year, we just need to be transparent about how it works and involve the leadership in the constituency, giving everybody an equal opportunity,” Walker said.

“We will have that as a challenge, but I believe we will be able to monitor and respond to that challenge. Some of the needs are obvious, some constituencies are far more vulnerable, and I expect (that) if we can roll out this programme that everyone feels is fair and implemented with transparency, it will get support and more resources will follow,” he asserted.

With the programme office now set up in New Kingston, work has already begun on designs for the housing solutions for submission to the various parish councils. He pointed out that there will be new construction, as the infrastructure for the decades-old tenements cannot withstand the type of rigorous rehabilitation that is necessary.

“We have designs that we will be rolling out to the parish councils, but we have to first see the lands and the needs [and] whether it’s board or concrete. What we have to do now is figure out the implementation plan, because you have to find a way to deliver the solutions quickly. We are sure that the needs far outweigh the resources, but we will put as much resources as we can together and try to address the needs of as many as we can,” he assured.

Walker expects that there will be challenges in the land acquisition process for those people who do not have security of tenure, but says political representatives and other authorities will be asked to make an input in resolving those issues. “There will be some requirement of proof of land — those are the easiest ones, when they own the land. But many of these, for years, the land and who owns the lands is in question. So I think that’s going to be our biggest challenge quite frankly. Some lands we may have to relocate them off of it… those are going to be some of the biggest challenges, but we are going to work closely with the MPs [and] councillors who will know very closely their parochial divisions, and we expect through forging a relationship with those persons who are responsible for these types of issues that we will have sufficient applications coming in,” he outlined.

The housing programme will also feature an oversight committee comprising representatives of HOPE, the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, the National Housing Trust, and HEART Trust, which will monitor implementation, and make recommendations to the minister of housing for approval of beneficiaries, as well as upgrading and relocation of sites. The committee will also be responsible for reviewing and approving the initial construction costs for the units and variations.

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I don’t want to sit and beg

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Thirty-six-year-old amputee, David Daley, is determined to support his family and himself despite having to live with one leg.

“Cause, I tell myself, I don’t want to sit and beg,” he told The Jamaica Observer Central.

Daley who was born in Newell, St Elizabeth, came under scrutiny when family members saw from early that one foot was longer than the other. Another abnormality was that his right foot had four toes.

Alarm further set in, when doctors informed Daley’s family that if he continued to walk using both feet, he would eventually suffer adverse effects on his spine.

He spent time receiving treatment at the Mona Rehabilitation Centre in Kingston from he was nine years old and then the heart-breaking decision was taken to remove his right foot.

Daley was then given a prosthesis (artificial leg) but in time he found the artificial limb unbearably uncomfortable, so he stopped using it.

The way Daley tells it, one day he became inspired to ride a bicycle when he saw a one-legged man selling newspapers while riding.

For 22 years since then, Daley has been riding a bicycle, finding it useful in performing a variety of tasks.

Daley drew on his strength and that of family members and started to transport children to school on his bicycle. This began when his mother asked him to take his younger brother to school and neighbours who saw him assisting his brother asked if he could take their children to school as well, and Daley responded by becoming a well-needed mode of transport; a task he did for 14 years.

He then moved on to transporting cooking gas, eggs, and other items on his bicycle for community members.

That was not all for Daley as he has also tried his hand at car washing, electrical work, welding, raising goats and chickens, selling eggs, construction, making and selling items such as peanut drops and peanut cakes.

Some of these jobs, he is still doing to take care of his family, says Daley, who currently lives in Northampton, St Elizabeth, with his wife, Monique and two-year-old daughter Zonnique.

He freely admits that coping with just one leg isn’t easy.

“A lot of people see me riding on one foot and think it’s easy, but it wasn’t easy. Is not something like if yu foot cut off today, you can jump on a bicycle tomorrow. No, it takes a whole lot,” Daley shared with this publication.

He also recognises that his life can be an example for others who have to deal with severe adversity.

“Whatsoever you are doing you got to come from deep within,” he told Observer Central. “You got to make up your mind that I’m gonna do this… and don’t mek nobody stop you, don’t look at yourself like, ‘hey this happened to me, it’s the end of the world’. No, it’s not the end of the world. We can all rise up,” Daley said.

He is also challenging able-bodied persons to do better in life.

“You can get up and do something. There’s so much that you can do. I meet people who come to me even begging me money and saying ‘nothing nah gwaan’. Come on, nuttin nah gwaan if you sit down every day an’ say nuttin nah gwaan. Get up and do something, seek, go out and reach out and somebody will help you. You will get a work from somebody. You affi mek something gwaan because if I did tell myself that, where would I be?”

Nathalie Jordon, a business owner in Goshen, St Elizabeth supports Daley by being a regular customer, buying eggs from him.

“He’s a really hard-working person,” said Jordan. “He is dedicated to trying to make something for himself. He’s coming from a humble background and him just tell himself say him nah go out deh go do no wrong. Him ah go work hard and do something. So me kinda really proud of where he’s coming from and his achievements and he’s still trying to go,” she added.

Daley says an abiding wish is to be able to do things that will motivate people. He enjoys sitting with other people with disabilities and trying to help them lift their self-esteem.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Early Stimulation Programme helping little ones

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Early Stimulation Programme helping little ones

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Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson (right) presents Dandre Simpson with a backpack and certificate at the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) transitional exercise, held at Apostolic Church of Jamaica Bethel Temple, Kingston Gardens, last week. The ESP is an early intervention programme for young children (0-6 years) with various types of developmental disabilities. A total of 60 students graduated from the ESP, 50 of whom will be matriculating to primary special education and 10 students to the regular school system. (Photos: JIS)

Photo 2 – Minister of Labour and Social Security, Shahine Robinson (right) interacts with students at the Early Stimulation Programme transitional exercise, last week.

Photo 3 – Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson (left) presents Talique Coulson with a backpack at the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) transitional exercise last week.


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A boost for Mandeville Regional’s ENT department

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The recent donation of a surgical microscope to the Mandeville Regional Hospital has greatly enhanced the institution’s capacity to deal with ear, nose and throat (ENT) cases, medical experts say.

The surgical microscope, worth $3.1 million, was recently handed over to the hospital by the charity group, Manchester Wellness Foundation, according to a news release.

Acting CEO at Mandeville Regional, Marcia Francis, told those at the presentation ceremony that while the hospital’s ENT department performed 317 surgical procedures in 2018, it will now be able to do many more.

“The hospital could have facilitated more surgical procedures, however, the absence of the surgical microscope made it impossible. With this robust, compact and flexible microscope, the hospital’s ENT team will be able to perform additional procedures with compassion, in an accountable, respectful, and efficient manner,” Francis said.

Consultant at the hospital’s ENT department, Dr Andrew Manning, said the microscope will be particularly helpful in treating the condition serous otitis media with effusion, commonly known as “glue ears”, which affects learning.

“This condition is fluid behind the eardrum and if not addressed before age four, children would have missed out on most of what they would learn in life. Normally we would have to refer children to the Bustamante Hospital for Children, but now we are able to address these cases,” Manning said.

Chairman of the Manchester Wellness Foundation and acting regional director of the Southern Regional Health Authority, Herschel Ismail, pointed out that the foundation adopted the ENT department three years ago and to date has donated equipment and instruments valued at more than $6 million.

Since the establishment of the Manchester Wellness Foundation in 2003, the foundation has raised and disbursed more than $17.6 million to health facilities in Manchester through two major fund-raising events — a run walk and a vintage party — the news release said.

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