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Oct 20, 2015

Jerusalem Under Siege From Poverty

One of the most poverty-stricken communities is Jerusalem; it is located in the outskirts of the Krooman Lagoon in the Antelope Street Extension of the city. The flooding of the weekend has worsened conditions for the families who already had to cope with the hardships and challenges of life in a community without even basic infrastructure. Today, News Five’s Isani Cayetano, found them rebuilding their lives.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Jerusalem, an eponymous community named after a historic city lying at the intersection of Israel and West Bank, is a predominantly Hispanic area near the fringes of Krooman Lagoon.  There are approximately forty-two families living here, including the relatives of twelve-year-old Jineli Rodriguez.  The existing conditions stretch from moderate to abject poverty.


Jineli Rodriguez

Jineli Rodriguez, Resident, Jerusalem

“It is very hard to live in an area like this because we are surrounded by lagoons and sometimes when it gets flooded the crocs come and sometimes we get scared.  It is difficult because people walk on the bridge and sometimes they fall.”


The causeway in reference is a labyrinth of wooden shipping crates crudely affixed to each other to create what is known as a London Bridge.  This elevated path however, doesn’t span the River Thames, as its name would suggest.  Instead, it serves as an artery that branches off into dozens of connecting veins, each depositing the foot-traveler at the base of one of many adjoined homes.


Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Area Representative, Collet

“It being over the lagoon and the proper filling is not there, the streets are not, no streets are there and as a result of no streets being there, no electrical poles can be put, B.E.L. [Belize Electricity Limited] will not go in there and do anything until street infrastructure is put in.  So, no B.E.L., no electrical, no BWSL and no water and sewerage facilities which is a health hazard as well.  And it is not an ideal condition for anybody be living in.”


Indeed, by all conventional means, the neighborhood is inhospitable.   The scarcity of land within city limits has forced residents to establish their own community, naming it after one of the oldest cities in the world.  Its silent mantra: Necessity is the mother of invention.  A glance around Jerusalem quickly reveals the ingenuity of its residents.  Aside from an elaborate network of bridges, electrification of homes is a do-it-yourself project.  Overhead is a grid of wires that’s several miles long.  It connects to every home here.


Isani Cayetano

“How do you guys manage in a situation where there is water everywhere and it’s difficult to move around.  You guys don’t have electricity legally and it’s a rather tough situation.  How do you handle that?”


Felipe Blanco, Resident, Jerusalem

“We get light from the lamppost.  We get in light from the lamppost then because no light no deh ova ya, alright.  We get light deh and every time dehn cut it off and dehn thing and when we noh have light we put it on back.  We pay twenty dollars fu it [back].  Only that we pay.”


Felipe Blanco

It’s a nominal reconnection fee for such an essential utility, one that is very much unlawful.  Over the weekend, the floating city was declared a disaster area.


Jineli Rodriguez

“People were struggling to get out, the bridge just flew apart and people… It was a lot of things.  I managed to somehow not cry because then all the babies almost were getting drowned and the little kids, people had to take them out and then lot of things happened.”


The overnight flood in the wake of torrential rains engulfed the vicinity, washing up tons of debris.  Area Representative Patrick Faber has been hard at work trying to restore a sense of normalcy.


Patrick Faber

“Since Sunday what we’ve been doing is providing basic relief in terms of dry clothing, blankets.  We continue the distribution of blankets and mattresses this afternoon.  We will also, we have also distributed grocery packages.  We did a thousand yesterday in various different areas of the constituency.”


On the ground, a backhoe manned by personnel tasked with providing drainage, is busy excavating debris that has accumulated near the Lord’s Ridge Cemetery.  It’s part of the overall relief effort that’s underway.


Voice of: Jerusalem Resident

“We have received help.  We have received food, materials and we did had a meeting with him in Thursday, I believe, concerning one street here.  Well I’m hoping there is going to be one because we can’t continue with this.”


That street would be the proverbial way out for Jineli and her family.


Jineli Rodriguez

“Right now I’m in Standard Six, I’m going to high school and I want to be a lawyer and I am planning to take out my parents out of this area because this area is not an appropriate area so that they can live in and I am planning to do that.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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3 Responses for “Jerusalem Under Siege From Poverty”

  1. Barry Tucker says:

    Our reporters are not asking the right questions of the Area Representative. Why was their no roads built in the Jerusalem and other similar communities. Where was the Ministry of Housing to ensure the safety of the residents? Let’s hold our elected officials responsible and not be satisfied with a few trinkets handed out while the root cause remains the same.

  2. easy glenn says:

    Ask patrick if eh build any house in his division I nuh see nun but they wah vote him back in i bet you that you dont even se him in collet at all come on unu get weh uno deserve a absent minister and absent representation the best is yet to come the area look the same only wah few thing get done in 7 yrs and this is the result on the work that has been done eh neglect his area and this tha weh happpen
    but i guess you nuh have fe do much fe win He didnt even come to area when eh mi flood eh wait cause eh nuh wah get eh foot wet then ih wah try put eh vow nuh fe show pictures of his people for political gain Bwaii stop u fool you neva duh out deh so how can u get pictures please u nuh wah look bad !!!

  3. Marie says:

    LOL, Barrow is ready to write off BTL debt instead of using the money to help communities like this, shame on you for publicly saying that. People remember election is right around the corner, think about who has your best interest.

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