They are not related and do not know each other, but Malissa Powell, Normalyn Bishop Clarke and Donnae Hitulah are breathing a collective sigh of relief, now happily comfortable with their families in new homes, funded by CIBC FirstCaribbean in partnership with Food For the Poor (FFP), the largest charity organisation in Jamaica.
The bank, which has since 2010 supported the FFP programme of providing houses and sustainable livelihoods for Jamaicans in need, has funded over 20 houses to date.
Among the three most recent beneficiaries are Powell and her daughter, Koyha Bianca Davis of Bullock Mountain, St Catherine. Their two-bedroom house with indoor kitchen and bathroom is a far cry from the one-bedroom they previously shared which would frequently be flooded out whenever it rained heavily. The kitchen was outside so cooking depended on fair weather.
“My daughter is in grade eight at high school and becoming a young lady. Now, she has her own room to study and everything. With a kitchen inside the house, I can cook anytime too. We are very grateful to CIBC FirstCaribbean and Food For the Poor,” Powell said.
Bishop Clarke recalls that she, husband Nigel and daughter Kimora, previously lived in a termite-riddled house in Byles, St Catherine.
Their new house is nearby, but “in a better location with an actual road to drive on”.
“The other one did not even have road to walk on,” she said.
With Nigel suffering a brain tumour and undergoing a series of surgeries which prevent him from working, the family is praising CIBC FirstCaribbean and FFP for providing “a comfortable and liveable home” for them.
Hitulah’s new house in Kitson Town is home to her, her husband and five children, with another on the way.
She said CIBC FirstCaribbean and FFP had “answered our prayers after our previous house was destroyed by fire”.
“We lost everything, all we had was the clothes on our back,” she recalled as she pointed to the “pretty house” they now call home.
Nigel Holness, managing director of the bank, said: “We are so happy to provide relief for these most worthy families.”
Visiting all three families and presenting ‘housewarming gifts’ of welcome mats, crockery, pots and pans and toiletries to them, Holness said: “While the bank’s business is finance, partnering with organisations like Food For the Poor to assist persons in need gives us immense fulfilment. We are elated to see how happy these families are and grateful to have the opportunity to help them get their lives together.”