Sun | May 19, 2024

MP to secure social housing unit for teenage burn victim

Published:Saturday | January 14, 2023 | 12:15 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
Adrianna Laing
Adrianna Laing
Adrian Laing
Adrian Laing
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Member of Parliament for Western Westmoreland Moreland Wilson says plans are on to provide a house for 13-year-old burn victim Adrianna Laing and her father Adrian under the Government’s New Social Housing Programme (NSHP), a component of the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme.

Wilson says construction was delayed to obtain permission from the owner of the land on which the house is to be built.

“The house will be a concrete structure and cannot be moved once built, so we need to be sure about building on the existing site. That is what is holding up [the] construction,” he said.

He said that during the discussions, Adrianna’s father had indicated his preference to have the house constructed at the existing location despite suggestions of another location in St Elizabeth.

“We are in the process of sorting out all of this so construction of the house can begin,” said Wilson.

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The Government’s NSHP initiative was conceptualised to improve the living conditions of Jamaica’s most vulnerable citizens by providing quality, affordable, and sustainable housing. Among the other considerations for selection is for persons with severe health issues.

All 63 members of Parliament are allowed to submit the names of five persons in their respective constituencies for support under the programme.

Wilson says the recommendation is for at minimum, a two-bedroom unit, but this could be increased subject to further assessment of the Laing’s circumstances by personnel from the Prime Minister’s Office.

He said the Laings are among 24 persons who have been victims of fire in the constituency, and all have been recommended for housing under the HOPE programme. The group includes 18 children and six adults.

“We are looking to provide some 30 housing units across the constituency to people who have been affected by fire and other factors,” Wilson told The Gleaner.

The teenager suffered life-threatening burns when her father’s Westmoreland house caught afire and burnt to the ground. She survived, but her three siblings – nine-year-old Adrianno and seven-year-old twins Jorden and Jayden – perished in the blaze.Stephen Joseph, project manager of Sanmerna Foundation, which has played a major role in getting help for Adrianna, told The Gleaner that so far, she has undergone 18 operations and is now at Shriners Children’s Hospital in Boston.

“She is ahead of schedule in her recovery and will be leaving the United States earlier than anticipated ... ,” he said.

Constant contact

Laing, who is currently in the United States with his daughter, told The Gleaner that Adrianna is now being fitted with a prosthetic leg, and all things being fine, she should be travelling back to Jamaica this month.Initial concerns were that she and her father faced the prospect of homelessness.

The Gleaner understands that Laing had been staying with relatives in Jamaica since the house fire.

“When Adrianna returns, she will have nowhere to live ... ,” he told The Gleaner in a telephone interview from Boston earlier this week.

But Wilson said while the unit would not be ready before their return, they would have a home: “I have been in constant contact with the family and (am) doing what needs to be done to get housing for them.”

Adrianna was first taken to the University Hospital of the West Indies’ Intensive Care Unit, suffering from third-degree burns. Some US$40,000 was raised to transfer her to the United States for further treatment.She was treated at the Joseph M. Still Burn Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. where her care was overseen by lead doctor Zaheed Hassan. She was then transferred to Shriners Children’s Hospital for rehabilitation.

Both Laing and Joseph, in the telephone interview with The Gleaner, appealed to the Jamaican public for assistance for Adrianna.

Contributions can be made to either the Sanmerna Foundation or NCB Bank, account number 6-4-375-622.