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Monday, 30 November, 2020

Irene and Jonathan raise their children in a ruined house

The family was left homeless when a house building of seven floors collapsed on September 8 in the Santo Niño sector in Petare. Bricks tore down part of their house, making uninhabitable. But still, they living there because they do not have anywhere else to go.

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By Génesis Carrero Soto.

Caracas.- 57 days with no sleeping have Irene and Jonathan. Every night they prepare their ears to listen to the creaking of the walls to decide if they carry their children and run to the streets or if they can wait for a little bit more. It all depends on the intensity of the creaking. They never wanted to live in a ruined house, but after a year, asking for help in the Santo Niño in Petare, the largest barrio in Caracas, with no answer, today, they live the nightmare that always tried to avoid.

Since September 8, when a seven-floor building collapsed and blocks tore down part of the house of Jonathan Serrano and Irene Castillo, the couple, their two kids of 10 and six-years-old and the parents of Jonathan got homeless.

You must read Petare is collapsing, but nobody seems to mind

They spent that night on the street, watching how the walls of their home cracked, and part of the structure got down. The next days they were living with some relatives. Later, they went to a state shelter on the Petare-Guarenas highway, but they ran out of the place because of its unhealthy conditions.

Some have had to move in or pay rent in dollars, but this family does not have the resources to leave the community. Photo: Ronald E. Peña

The lack of a roof forced them to return to their house. Now, they use the garage, the only place that preserved cracking walls. They cleaned it and put a mattress where the four members of the family sleep. They also re-establish the electricity and decided to stay there until the Mayor’s Office of Sucre and the Houses Ministry honored the promise to relocate them to apartments in Charallave this November.

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Irene is worried about their children Jonaire and Jonathan. The boys are upset and afraid that the house falls on them. One of them convulse, and the tension affects his health.

“They promise to help us and that we will relocate because things got worse here a year ago. But now, the woman in charge of the community only gives excuses and more excuses. I do not mind anymore to be relocated. I only want four safety walls to raise my kids,” Irene explains. She works in a telecommunication company whose salary is not enough to pay the $50 of rent that costs a place in the barrio.

Irene y Jonathan viven con sus dos hijos en las ruinas de su vivienda, porque no tienen a dónde ir desde que parte de la estructura se cayó. Foto: Ronald E. Peña.

The family knows that all the houses around are at risk. They fear that some house collapses and weakens the ground, or even worse, that falls on them. But they don’t have other choices that living among the ruins, feeling the vertigo of walk on the leftover of their house, the void on the floor.

To families in Santo Niño, authorities delivered a municipality decree that declared the neighborhood like a zone at risk and warned them not to make constructions over the ruins of more than 15 buildings that collapsed and another 200 at risk. But the recent decree did not mention the promise of relocation.

Meanwhile, some of the homeless remain living from the kindness of neighbors which houses are still standing or paying suffocating rent amid the lack of work that pandemic brought.

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