No home for burn victim

AS soon as 13-year-old burn victim Adrianna Laing is fitted with a prosthetic leg, she along with her father Adrian will pack their bags to leave the Shriners Hospital for Children in the United States of America and head back to Jamaica.

However, when she returns to the island Adrianna won’t have anywhere to live as the family home in Westmoreland in which she was severely burnt by a massive blaze which took the lives of her three brothers on September 4 this year, is still to be rebuilt.

Adrianna’s brothers who perished in the fire were seven-year-old twins Jayden and Jorden, as well as eight-year-old Adrianno.

Adrianna, who received severe and life-threatening burns, had been flown to the JMS Burn Center in the United States with the help of the Sanmerna Foundation at which she underwent 17 life-saving surgeries.

According to Stephen Josephs, the projects manager for Sanmerna Foundation, the situation is urgent for her to have somewhere to stay on her return to the country.

“Arianna is due back in Jamaica about the third week in January. Since the fire they haven’t received any assistance in terms of trying to build back at least two of the rooms. When she comes back to Jamaica she basically will be homeless. It is like she will be moving from one trauma to the next,” Josephs told the Jamaica Observer on Friday, pointing out that relatives accommodated her father for a short while at their residence but that the arrangement was a temporary one.

The child, Josephs claimed, has been kept in the dark about the reality she is expected to face when she and her father get back to Jamaica.

“She is going to need a certain environment. Her recovery has been remarkable but the truth is that time is running out on us where the house is concerned. Anybody who can come together to help to build back even two rooms and a bathroom for her, that would be good.”

Josephs said two political representatives in Westmoreland have committed to assisting the family get a new dwelling but nothing has come through as yet.

“Her father has to steer her away from the reality that will present when she goes back; he doesn’t want to put her in depression mode. She is now getting her prosthetic leg and is doing rehab, learning to walk again.

“We ask if ordinary Jamaicans, the prime minister, the Opposition, and anybody who can help, to reach out. We call upon the nation to rally around him just to give Adrianna a place to live. She will need to be comfortable. She went through trauma so she will need to be in a quiet room to recover fully.

“The Sanmerna Foundation would like to see this become reality. We call upon the various agencies like Food For the Poor, Poor Relief agency to see how best they can do something to be able to accommodate her. She has been through so much. I call upon Jamaicans to get involved and support this initiative. Arianna’s future is bright and we want to get her back on track as quickly as possible,” said Josephs.

The child’s father, meanwhile, told the Observer that he was proud to be able to see his daughter improve day by day. He also indicated the urgency of the need to have a home for her on her return.

“She is anticipating to go back home; she has been in the hospital for a while. She just wants to go back to school, and a dem things deh she insist pon. But when the hospital discharge her it is going to be a problem for me,” he said, sharing a National Commercial Bank account for people who wish to donate to the project. The account number is 604375622 and it is at the Negril branch. There is also a GoFundMe platform (https://gofund.me/8c86de79) that people can donate to.

Westmoreland Western Member of Parliament Morland Wilson said he has sought assistance for the family through the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme. However, Wilson was careful not to make any promises, explaining that there is a process that has to be followed.

“As it relates to my office, I am trying to see what support can be given through the various arms and organs of government so that they can get support. I cannot make any commitment yet because the discussions are ongoing. There is the HOPE programme run by the Office of the Prime Minister —and Adrian and Adrianna would definitely be eligible for one of those houses. There is a process, and I would not want to pre-empt the decision of how things will unfold until we dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. It is a process. If it does go through we would not be able to say things will happen for January.

“I am very elated to learn that she has gone through all that surgery and is on the road to recovery; I was quite hopeful during the battle. I had all faith that God would see her through, and He did. She lost her brothers but she has her life, and we stand ready to support her in any way we can,” the parliamentary representative said.

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