Sheila George, Chairperson of HFHG, at the time of receiving the check.
On Wednesday April 20th, the British High Commission handed over a check from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation to Habitat for Humanity Guyana (HFHG). Sheila George, Chairperson of HFHG, who received the check on behalf of HFHG says that her organization “is indeed very privileged to have had this kind of response from the Prince. It is an indication that Habitat is really touching the hearts of people far and wide, and that they endorse the work that HFHG is doing to assist families desperately in need of better housing. “
As soon as the Prince found out about the deplorable conditions on the East Coast due to the recent floods, he wrote to His Excellency, President Bharat Jagdeo, that he wished to make cash contribution to assist in the flood recovery program. After consultation HRH agreed to make the contribution to HFHG to assist in their flood damage relief operations.
The floods were a massive blow to HFHG, an organization which prides itself for constructing low-cost, durable homes with low-income families to help them escape poverty housing. Habitat halted the construction of its traditional house in the coastal areas and a team from HFHG’s national technical subcommittee has been investigating and assessing the damage to houses in the coastal area with a view to providing assistance. Based on the findings, the technical team headed by engineer Mel Sankies has recommended an entirely new design on stilts that would not allow the lower portion to be enclosed as a bottom flat. Architect Sheldon Williams noted, “We’ll be moving the building a minimum of three feet up from the grade level (or centre of the road), in locations where the flooding is more severe the height will increase. That area under the house can then be used for storage, for housing pets and that kind of thing.”
HFHG considers itself fortunate to have received the Prince’s gift at this time, since the extensive assessment, the research and implementation of the new design are all costs that HFHG could not have foreseen in this year’s budget.
The housing need in Guyana is for over 50,000 houses. Over 250,000 people live in substandard housing conditions. According to the 1999 UNDP report on living conditions in Guyana 36.3% of the population live in absolute poverty, 19.1% in critical poverty
Habitat for Humanity Guyana —a non-profit organization—has built over 300 houses on the East Coast Demerara, Georgetown, the East Bank Demerara, the West Demerara and Linden. Habitat relies greatly on donations and volunteers to help construct simple and affordable houses for poorly sheltered families. Families pay for the houses at cost using long-term mortgages at no interest or profit to the organization.