From a distance, the structure of board and zinc along the Redberry main road near Porus, Manchester, stacked like pieces of a puzzle being put together by a toddler and perched atop a rocky surface, looks like an abandoned building.
But upon closer inspection, you may see smoke coming from a wood fire set up for domestic purposes and surely, the tall, aged frame of the owner.
Myrtle Saunders said she has lived in the temporary structure she erected for over 20 years, having leased the property from its owners, and while it once served her well, the elderly woman said she can no longer contend with its rapid deterioration.
“The heavy rains come and it mash up the place. I get wet inside and everything get wet up. The wood that makes the house was used wood already, and it just get worse over the years. It withstand Hurricane Ivan, but now it can’t even manage heavy rain,” Saunders lamented.
The six-room structure with a makeshift kitchen attached to a bedroom and other rooms used for storage bore solace for Saunders and her son, but since he died, the elderly woman said she has had to bear the brunt of it all.
“My son dead years now. Him did have thrombosis and he died in his sleep. Mi here and mi don’t really make nothing trouble me enuh, but I would really want a house. I don’t have a bathroom and other little things, but me just have to go on with what me have until help come,” she said.
Saunders presented a lease agreement that indicated she was to pay $1,000 annually to occupy the property, with a temporary structure, but said the owners told her years ago that she no longer had to pay.
The 75-year-old told The Gleaner that she has lands elsewhere but that the terrain is currently too difficult for her to tread.
“Mi just want a house. Mi have land round further up but me have to stop me breath fi go up that hill … me can’t manage it. If me cyan get house, me wouldn’t mind get this fix up, some repairs, because is only board house, something temporary me can put on the property here.”
With a pleasant and jovial personality despite the odds, Saunders said, for years she cared for countless homes in the Tollgate, Clarendon area as a domestic worker, but had to leave it in 2005 after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
“I used to be able to handle my own, enuh. But I got sick and I was even crippled. I weighed 220 pounds and me draw down to this. Suppose you did see me? I just go work one day and come home and me just sick. Mi use to even raise mi chickens and help myself, but mi can’t manage anymore.”
With her only consistent means of being able to purchase food and sometimes visiting the doctor coming from the Programme of Advancement Through Health Education, Saunders said she is hoping that favour will be granted to her and she can live a comfortable life.
“If I tell you I have never got a little help here and there, God would charge me, but I don’t really get help around this side, and to be honest, I don’t mind because people take it and tell you around these parts. I try to be comfortable with my little much but you can see that the place stay bad now. The floor can’t keep clean, I have to pack up everything because the ceiling cave in and wet up everything. I really need the help,” Saunders stressed.
To assist Mrytle Saunders call (876) 434-8031.