All smiles as 10 Berbicians are now homeowners 
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Leslie Sukhai and his wife Fazeela Ali in front of their new home
Leslie Sukhai and his wife Fazeela Ali in front of their new home

FOOD for the Poor Guyana Inc (FFTP) in collaboration with St Francis Community Developers (SFCD), on Friday, handed over 10 houses to persons from mainly the East Bank of Berbice and Canje. A total of 61 persons will be occupying the 10 homes.

The 10 recipients, who each had challenging stories, were moved to tears as they expressed gratitude to the FFTP and SFCD for making them homeowners, which will now allow them to live “comfortable and freely”.

President of St Francis, Alex foster, noted that thus far, 385 houses have been built and handed over to families in the region. This gesture has enabled the recipients to transform their lives and livelihoods. He highlighted that the SFCD does not only provide persons with a home but moves beyond that to provide psychosocial support to the families.

One of the recipients, Neil Eleixie Archer of Lot 800 Glasgow Housing Scheme, a single father of three, was emotional  when he described the hardship he faced having to rent and maintain his three boys from his earnings as a cane harvester. Being able to now own his own home has restored hope and belief in a better life and future for him and his children ages 17, 14 and 11.

Food for the Poor, Chief Executive Officer, Kent Vincent (sitting in centre); FFTP Project Manager, Andrea Benjamin (sitting left); and President of St Francis Community Developers, Alex Foster (sitting right) with other officials and beneficiaries at the handing-over ceremony on Friday at the headquarters of St Francis Community Developers in Berbice

“Today is a happy day. Happy day for my children, they are happy. I would like to say thanks to Food For the Poor for what they have done for my children. Living in a rented house is not easy, raising children without a mother is not easy, and I take care of my children from little to where they are now. I must say Food For the Poor has done this, a wonderful thing in the children lives and once they are happy, I am happy. Having their own room, they lay down, they roll, they just happy,” he said.

Another beneficiary, Nurse Kenesha Stephens of Patrick Dam, Angoys Avenue, said she was chosen at a time when she was going through a “difficult period”.

“It was an opportunity that came along when I was in a very low place and the timing of it was impeccable because I was shortly separated from my husband and with my children I was down emotionally and I wasn’t sure what to do and where to turn to. A door opened for me when I thought there was no door and from there to now I can say my kids and I are in a better place emotionally and physically.

They are happier than they were before. I can move forward to better possibilities. The counselling I received helped me to stabilise myself mentally and emotionally and stable me with my job. I am in a better place,” Stephens said.

For Leslie Sukhai, 27, and his wife Fazeela Ali, 26, of Lonsdale, East Bank Berbice, their dream has been realised. The couple previously shared a space with Sukhai’s parents.

“This feels extraordinary and gives me a sense of freedom. It wasn’t comfortable living with people. Now me and my children will be happier and at ease. I want to thank everyone who made it possible to give us this new lease in life,” she happily said.

FFTP Project Manager, Andrea Benjamin, said she is pleased to be celebrating with the recipients and noted that the FFTP is working with its partners to contribute to the social development of this country. Homeownership, she said, plays a critical role in building strong and stable communities.

“So it’s not about Angoy’s Avenue, not about the East Bank, it’s about helping Guyana achieve its millennium development goals that speak to housing and ensuring that families have adequate housing and that speaks to an improved community.

Improved housing means improved communities and we tend to forget that when you have families who have safe houses, you have better communities; it also means reduction in social ills…. Better accommodation also means children do well in school,” Benjamin explained.

She also charged the families to care their new homes and look to expand it.
Meanwhile, FFTP Chief Executive Officer, Kent Vincent, said the organisation is pleased that the dreams of owning a home has become a reality for many. This year, Food For the Poor is hoping to construct 120 homes.

“The housing programme is one of the most significant in the country. And it is our sincere pleasure to hand over 10 homes to the 10 families today. We are happy that it will be impacting the lives of 45 children significantly. The children are the ones to move this country forward to the future and we are happy for that,” Vincent told the beneficiaries.

The two-bedroom house is equipped with the necessary furniture, including beds and chairs, indoor sanitary facility, gas stove, solar panel and a rain harvesting component.

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