Local charity Acts of Random Kindness continues to live up to its name, and to improve lives, one household at a time.
The organisation is in the final stages of two major renovation projects to local homes where residents have been living with black mould, pest infestations and unclean well water since Hurricane Ivan damaged the buildings over eight years ago.
Miss Donna was initially unwilling to let ARK visit her at home in Windsor Park, George Town, to conduct a standard assessment. As a result she did not qualify for assistance from the organisation, explained Tara Nielsen, founder of ARK.
“After a couple of months she contacted us again, saying we could go to her house. She was really desperate,” said Ms Nielsen. “She had been too embarrassed to let us see her home before. The conditions were absolutely deplorable.”
The roof was leaking, she said, and there were buckets placed around the house to catch drips. In the bedroom, which Miss Donna shared with her daughter and granddaughter, the ceiling was about to collapse on top of them. As a result the home was riddled with black mould, and all of them were suffering from associated respiratory problems.
“The children were being rushed to the hospital several times per week because they couldn’t breathe,” said Ms Nielsen.
Unable to afford town water, the family was using well water. The water had not been treated and was causing them to break out in sores on their faces and bodies.
When they saw the conditions the family were living in, ARK was compelled to help.
“We got a quote from Donald at Platinum Construction, who had helped with the renovation on Miss Blanche’s home. It was going to cost $20,000 just to replace the roof and get rid of the mould, which is a huge bite out of what we have,” said Ms Nielsen.
The charity turned to Davenport Development, who Ms Nielsen said were “absolutely amazing”. The construction company donated all manner of materials, including doors, tiles, bathtubs, toilets and more. Thanks to the generosity of Davenport Development and Platinum construction, Miss Donna’s home has been transformed – and all in less than two months.
With the construction phase complete, the final part of the project will be the painting, decorating and furnishing, which volunteers from Rawlinson and Hunter have agreed to do.
This is likely to take at least two weekends. By the time it is complete however, Miss Donna and her girls will have a clean, mould-free, fully renovated home with fresh furniture and treated water.
Down the road in South Sound, Miss Ruth’s South Palms home is also undergoing extensive renovations.
A concerned neighbour contacted ARK about the conditions in which Miss Ruth was living.
“After her mother died in July, she got more and more depressed and the house fell into more and more disrepair,” recalled Ms Nielsen. “She and her mother had both worked at the Hyatt, but they lost their jobs after Ivan and didn’t have the money to repair the damage to their house. The strata may have replaced the roof, but the mould got into the walls and stayed there. When we went there, there were literally dead roaches on the slippers she was walking around in. The house was infested with rats and cockroaches and she too was spending long periods of time in hospital, unable to breathe, because of the mould.”
In a few short weeks, with generous support from the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, ARK has organised for the whole house to be power-washed and sterilised to rid it of mould; the drywall has been replaced, floors have been tiled, plumbing renovated and more. Sunrise Community Church has provided physical labour and also donated a fridge and a bed and the Ritz-Carlton has provided bedding.
Once the construction phase of the project is complete, Ritz-Carlton volunteers will go in to do the painting and put the final touches on Miss Ruth’s home.
“This has transformed Miss Ruth’s life,” says Ms Nielsen. “When we first went there, she was lying in bed waiting to die, basically. But now she’s seeing friends again, she’s going to church… she’s even gone back to work at the craft market, two days per week.”