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Pensioner living in house with rats


MARIA BRADSHAW, [email protected]

Pensioner living in house with rats

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AN ELDERLY client of the National Assistance Board (NAB) is living in a dilapidated rat-infested house with no electricity, running water or toilet facilities.

Old cardboard sheets which fell from the ceiling have been covered with old clothes to serve as a bed for 74-year-old Verbena Shepherd, known as Linda in the rural Prerogative, St George neighbourhood where she lives.

More old clothing, boxes and plastic bags containing her possessions fill up the entire bedroom almost as high as the ceiling leaving no additional space for Shepherd to manoeuvre.

In the other bedroom a similar situation exists – dirty buckets, garbage and old furniture fill up this room where rat faeces can be spotted clearly among the filth.

Shepherd’s plight was brought to the attention of the SUNDAY SUN by a concerned citizen.

For 25 years, Shepherd has been living in the small wooden house, which was given to her by the NAB. The agency is responsible for looking after the welfare of the elderly and Shepherd said officials were aware of her terrible living conditions. “Them know, them know,” she insisted her voice cracking with emotion.

A galvanised sheet is nailed at the front of the house where the door used to be and dingy curtains cover the space where windows once stood in the bedrooms.

 She added that she had also been to the Rural Development Corporation pleading for assistance in getting a house or land to build a house on.

She explained that an official from the RDC visited her home sometime back to examine the conditions.

“I went as far as Rural and I told them I would try to buy the house so I can repair it,” she said. “A man from Rural come and he look at the house and I went back and he tell me they ain’t find a spot yet. The owner of this spot say no more house is to go on his land so that is the keep-back.”

Several bottles filled with water from a neighbour’s pipe are on the ground in the backyard which Shepherd uses for showering and washing.

Buckets containing her groceries and food are at her back door, the only place where she can hide them from gnawing rodents.

“Them live up in the ceiling,” she said of her unwanted home invaders, “but the rats more smarter than you. Every time I bring something in the house them does know and them does come out. They come out at night and let me know them in here.”

As to the dirty clothes at her back door she pointed out that she uses them to soak up the water in the backyard which gets flooded when it rains. And, regarding her sleeping conditions, she said, “The cardboard drop out and I make my bed just where it is with some old clothes.”

The mother of eight said seven of her children were still alive and they were also aware of her living conditions “but you know wuh the children give; they feel I old and I ain’t want nothing”.

Shepherd, who leaves home every day to go into Bridgetown or Rockley, Christ Church, where she used to work selling bottles, said she usually comes back late at night because she was not comfortable being in the house.

A neighbour and a few other people help her occasionally with food, she said.

“I can’t do no better and I think who I go to should relate more. I went back this year already to Rural and they tell me they ain’t get neither spot yet. I would really like to get from here,” she cried. (MB)

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