“The house means a lot and I am happy with my own home and I would like to thank God because I was all over from here, there till God make way and I own my own home today,” says Amanda Anthony, a disabled woman.
The estimated GUY$2.5 million one bedroom house- a disability friendly model- at Hope Lowlands, East Coast Demerara was built with funding from the Scotiabank Habitat Build a Home Promotion. Scotia contributed about GUY$1.8 million.
Anthony, a widow and mother of two, recalls living several places ranging from the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, Kamuni Creek, Land of Canaan and Vryheid’s Lust, East Coast Demerara and even neighbouring Suriname. “All about I used to live,” she says.
Her dream to own her own house came through when more than one year ago she acquired a house lot from the Ministry of Housing. Undaunted by her failed efforts to secure assistance from the Lion’s Club and Food for The Poor, the cheerful and determined woman was later referred to Habitat for Humanity where she was lucky enough to have a quick chat with Habitat for Humanity’s National Director, Rawle Small and subsequently made arrangements to be interviewed by officials of that organisation. “I seek, seek and there was no door opening for me and lastly the door was wide opened,” says Anthony who hails from Mabaruma, North West District.
Born without legs, the 52-year old woman was almost brought to tears when she reflected on her past nomadic way of life. Asked a bit about her disability, a smiling Anthony proudly said she is not affected. At the same time, she concedes that she wishes she had all of her lower extremities. “I’m quite happy with it but sometimes by going about I see people with their two legs and I grieve a lot,” she says.
Anthony- who cooks, cleans and moves about briskly- says she has been often denied employment even as a domestic because of her disability. Accustomed to working on a farm on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, she proud home owner hopes to have her yard fenced so she can plant vegetables and rear chickens
She praises her 22-year old son for supporting her financially by paying rent while depending on a various organisations for food. Her 20-year old daughter ran away 10 months ago.
Habitat for Humanity’s local staff sees Anthony as inspiration because of her vision of receiving support to emerge out of the “really harsh conditions” in one room that she had been living in. Other criteria used to determine eligibility include the number of dependents, employment status, health status and age.
When Anthony walked in the sweltering sun and entered Habitat for Humanity’s office in beads of perspiration, she asked for help at time that organisation and Scotiabank locally and its headquarters in Canada were about to strike a deal to start a housing partnership. “We said great! We would love for Amanda to be the first beneficiary of the Habitat-Scotiabank (Guyana) Build A Home promotion,” says Small.
Scotiabank (Guyana) is taking a small percentage from several types of loans to finance the project. The Scotiabank/ Habitat Build a Home project has been extended for three years.
He hopes that Amanda’s new and fixed place of abode will go a far way in strengthening family ties. The Habitat for Guyana National Director hopes that other companies and groups across Guyana to support communities “even if it’s something small”.
Marketing Manager for Scotiabank (Guyana), Jennifer Cipriaini-Nelson says the project was a no-brainer. “When Rawle came with the list of options, Amanda was at the top. We said-yes, go for it.”
Ansa Mc Al, the Braam family, Office of the President Guyana Relief Council, Courts and other entities also assisted making the house comfortable for Amanda Anthony and her son.