“I thank the Lord for my neighbours who helped me,” said a joyful 72-year-old Keith Sidney, affectionately called ‘Sonny’.

His neighbours at Hampstead in St. Mary recently came together to build a house for him.

Sidney previously lived in a dilapidated structure, which the community members demolished to construct a new house.

“I am living good now; the other house was tearing down on me,” said Sidney, who has lived in the community for approximately 40 years.

He explained that his family lives far away, and he has no children of his own.

The community initiative was spearheaded by business owner and St. Mary resident, Viviene Silvera, who says she came across Sidney in October 2020 while in Hampstead.

“I love pear and I saw a pear tree, so I was going to look if any had fallen off. Then I realised the condition in which Mr. Sidney was living and I was moved, considering his age and that we are in a global pandemic. It was unsanitary, and it broke my heart to a point where I forgot why I was there,” she explained.

Silvera proceeded to write a letter to Food For The Poor requesting assistance.

“Two months after I wrote the letter, a lady responded and a team member from the organisation was sent to view the property and agreed that Mr. Sidney needed a house. Food For The Poor assisted with some of the construction material, so I had to do some fundraising among friends and associates to come up with the rest,” she added.

Sidney’s house was constructed by residents of the community free of charge.

“We did it three Saturdays in a row because that is the time when we could get the assistance from persons who work in construction. They were exceptionally kind. All I had to do was cook breakfast and lunch for them each day,” said Silvera, who is also a business operator and St. Mary native.

She hopes to see a health centre in Hampstead where the elderly can receive care.

Silvera also wants recreational areas, such as a playing field for the youth.

She said: “On Labour Day in 2017, I led a similar project in Baccas Wood, in which a gentleman was living in deplorable conditions. All I saw was zinc. These projects allow me to show people that there is a better way to live. We have to reach out to them and give love.”

Silvera, who hopes to make a bigger impact by successfully entering representational politics, lives at Harmony Hall in St. Mary.


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By Mills