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Paying to live in misery


Anesta Henry

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A leaking roof, rotten floorboards and a rickety outside toilet – yet, Jenny Wooding, 82, pays $5 each week religiously to live in this squalor.
The Deans Village, St Michael home, where Wooding has lived since 1960, leans acutely and perilously, and is illuminated only by the sun’s rays, or a bright moonbeam, or by a starry night.
And Wooding’s source of water is a nearby standpipe.
The old woman must weave her way through dangerously jagged galvanized sheets to enter or exit the small house; and she cooks outdoors in sordid conditions, just a stone’s throw away from her equally hazardously leaning pit toilet.
The former agriculture worker told the MIDWEEK NATION: “This is my home. I don’t have anywhere else to go.”
She lamented: “The house wasn’t always so. It was once a good house. But now it bad; now it real bad.”
Indicating she had no family to call on, and that the only support she had was “my strength and the li’l pension I getting”, Wooding said she “would be happy if somebody could help me build over the house”.
She added: “I would help with some of my pension too.”   
And though she would gladly accept assistance, she was quick to say: “I don’t know if the landlord fella would let it be. He might not want people building over the house on his property.”
As to Wooding’s family, they moved “to Christ Church for donkey years now. Most of them like them dead out and gone. And who alive, if any, I ain’t know nothing ’bout them, or them ain’t know anything about me”.  
From across the street, one of Wooding’s neighbours expressed concern about the old lady’s plight, but had nothing but respect for her.
“She don’t trouble nobody. She knows The Bible tall. She is the best woman ’bout here. It just aches me to see that she got to live like this,” the neighbour cried. “And the man does take rent from she – and he is a teacher!”
Wooding’s landlord Earl Wilkinson confirmed yesterday that he charges his tenant $5 a week, but he says he is saddened by the state of the house each time he collects from her.
Wilkinson said he sought to improve the elderly woman’s living conditions.
“I tried to get a loan from the a Government entity only last week, seeking funds to build over the house because I don’t have enough money to do it. They told me because I don’t live in the house, I don’t qualify for the loan,” Wooding’s landlord said.

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