Deed of Gift for Odetta
She cannot stop praising God for the `awesome' way in which He has been moving for her lately By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
February 7, 2002

ODETTA Blair got a Deed of Gift yesterday - a house lot in Sophia, Georgetown.

And her dream of putting her 11 children in a house of her own is fast becoming a reality.

She and the 11 children have had to stay with neighbours since their home at Middle Road, La Penitence, Georgetown, was blown down and destroyed in a recent windstorm.

Land has been made available to her and a Good Samaritan, Mr. Frank De Abreu, Director of De Sinco Trading, who offered to build a three bedroom concrete house, complete with verandah for the family, has commenced constructing the building.

Yesterday, officials of the Ministry of Housing and Water, in a goodwill gesture, signed a Deed of Gift, on behalf of Minister of Housing and Water, Mr. Shaik Baksh. This enabled Ms. Blair to receive her Land Allocation Letter without having to pay any other monies after the initial down payments totalling $34,000 some years ago.

Presenting the Allocation Letter and Agreement of Sale to Blair was a very elated Ms. Philomena Sahoye-Shury, who wished the woman and her family well.

At a simple handing-over, Ms. Sahoye-Shury modestly asserted: "On behalf of the Ministry of Housing and Water, I have great pleasure in handing over this Lot 172, Block `E', Sophia to Ms. Odetta Blair, and we will be waiving all other payments, so it will be actually a Deed of Gift..."

Blair in return sincerely thanked Baksh and officials of the Ministry of Housing for quickly coming to her aid. She also indicated how grateful she was to De Abreu as well as Ms. Patricia Cozier and her family who immediately rescued them when they were left homeless two weeks ago.

Through this gesture, she has been relieved of a debt of just over $25,000.

With Blair yesterday at the handing over was Cozier who she said has been a friend to her "in and out of season", and throughout her recent struggles.

Overwhelmed with emotion, the mother recalled that soon after her plight was publicised, De Abreu approached her and made the offer to help them acquire a home, on condition that she gets land with bona fide rights.

This information was communicated to Baksh, whose officers verified that Blair had applied some years ago and had begun paying for a house lot in Sophia. The minister, on hearing of her plight, readily indicated willingness to have a Deed of Gift signed and the Agreement of Sale handed over to her.

Thereafter, things began happening rapidly for her, and De Sinco Trading, having verified ownership of the land, commenced building the house a few days ago.

Her home is now being constructed on a plot of land - 150 ft x 75 ft. There are coconut trees already with fruit on the lot.

In addition, her home is going up just next door to two schools - Mercy Wing Vocational School, which also has a day care centre and medical facilities, and the recently constructed Sophia Primary School. Such facilities will make it easier for her children who have yet to be placed in schools, she said.

Odetta said she cannot stop praising God for the awesome way in which He has been moving for her lately.

Recalling that she had applied for the land about eight years ago, she said even though she had made two payments totalling $34,000 on a house lot that was worth about $56,000, it was difficult to commence building. This was because she was paying $15,000 a month rent for the small two-bedroom house she and her children occupied at Pigeon Island, East Coast Demerara.

Early last year, the landlord who she said knew she was getting help from her in-laws overseas, and her mother in the Netherlands, demanded an increase of $5,000 per month.

With 11 children to provide for without a father and no steady job, she was unable to pay the increase and was forced to vacate the house.

It was during this time that her friends Daphne and Patricia Cozier who she came to know years before while living in Middle Road, La Penitence, went to her help.

They agreed for her and the children to occupy an old building they were overseeing for a friend who had migrated. They lived there until the building was thrown down by high winds recently.

After the house came down, injuring some of the children, and leaving them homeless, the Coziers again came to their rescue by sharing their home with them

Blair yesterday said she could not find words enough to give God and kindhearted humans thanks for coming to her assistance, in this their hour of great need.

Somehow, for the family, it was like: "Out of evil coming good." She is expected to move into her new home by the end of the month.

Her father, Mr. Desmond Blair who, on behalf of De Sinco is spearheading the construction of the building, said he was happy the way things have been falling into place for his daughter.

Blair, a building contractor, said that on the night of their misfortune, he was looking at television and so learnt of his daughter's and grandchildren's disaster. He said he immediately contacted a friend who is a mason, and they agreed that they should do something to help Odetta.

He soon after learnt that De Sinco Trading had made the offer to them and spoke with the company which recruited him and his friend and sons to do the construction.

Blair, who is the Chairman of the Sophia Housing Development Group, said the land in Block E was once used for agricultural purposes, but was subsequently reclaimed and sold for residential housing.

He refuted statements in a story in the Stabroek News on Tuesday, claiming that at no time had he been unkind or cruel to his daughter.

"I always worked hard and provided for my daughter. I used to get up very early and cook for her, and never pressured her as the report suggests," Blair stated.

He said he is very upset over the statements in the newspaper.