Five-year-old Kelana Myles plays in the dusty front yard outside the ramshackle timber home she shares with her mother and grandfather in central George Town.
A display of Christmas lights, still hanging from the rafters in early February, cannot disguise the building’s decrepit state.
In one room, the roof has come down, there is mold throughout, and at the rear of the property, sewage leaks from a backed-up pipe.
“There is no way to turn around and walk away from this,” said Tara Nielsen of Acts of Random Kindness as she surveyed the property last week.
The nonprofit organization plans to put funding and resources toward helping home owner Treasan Myles, Kelana’s mother, renovate her home and fix some potential health hazards.
“My grandmother built this house way back,” Ms. Myles said.
“I grew up here and I’ve lived here all my life,” she said. “Whenever I get paid, I buy some boards and I fix it up.”
Both she and her father work full-time jobs but keeping up with the cost of raising a child and managing the repairs has become unmanageable.
“I won’t take out a loan, because I have seen people do that then they can’t pay and they lose their home,” she said.
“I would probably get a different place if I could, but this is what I have.”
The Myles home is one of many rundown premises clustered in mini neighborhoods off Eastern Avenue and Shedden Road.
Tara Nielsen, who runs ARK, said the state of the property and concerns for the child, as well as the fact that Ms. Myles is in steady employment and doing everything she can to help herself, make this one a priority.
She said the Myles’ home would be put into ARK’s “Cayman Casa” program, which connects local companies to families in need and puts their labor and resources to work on home renovations.
The first priority will be to sort out the plumbing, amid concerns it could be a health hazard. Ms. Nielsen said the charity had enough funds to begin working on that immediately.
“There is a major sewage issue that permeates the home, garden and sleeping quarters,” she said.
“The floors, walls and ceilings are collapsing throughout the home. The bathrooms do not function properly. You can see the ground through the floor. The appliances do not work and it is ridden with mold. There is no clean and safe place for the little child to play, sleep and grow.
“We need to have someone go through the house and identify the key problems. We will sort out the plumbing and then we will work down the list of priorities.”
ARK gets recommendations from the community for its projects and follows up with a home inspection and interview with the family.
Phillip Richter, director of community service for the Rotaract Club of Grand Cayman, said he had been alerted to the state of the home by a community activist in the area.
“When I went to the property, I was in disbelief that people, let alone a family, lived in these conditions,” he said.
He got in touch with ARK to see if the charity could help.
“What struck me about this whole situation is that I’ve driven past the entrance to the property for over 20 years and had no idea people lived back there. Nothing against the area, I just did not know, but it makes me wonder if there are more families living in these conditions around the island that are tucked away.”
He said he was concerned that there were many more homes in similar condition but was inspired that ARK had been able to help so quickly in this case.
Ms. Nielsen said concerns for the health and safety of children are paramount when it takes on a project.
“We are a small charity and we can only take on a few projects. We would love to be able to do more,” she said.
ARK has been selected as the charity that will benefit from the proceeds of this year’s 5K Irish Jog, organized by Butterfield Bank and the Dart group, and Ms. Nielsen urged people to take part.
“We need the community to step up and think about this beautiful 5-year-old child. They are not asking for the world, just a clean, healthy, safe environment to live in,” she said.