The volunteers hard at work.
Work being done to one of the roofs.
One of the repaired roofs.
PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation in collaboration with the group of Chinese contractors who had been working at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino rolled up their sleeves on their day off June 7 to assist three families in St. Maarten with critical repair work to their homes.
One of the repaired homes belongs to a single mother and her son who reside on Dollison Road in Cul de Sac. The house was damaged by Hurricane Irma which devastated the island on September 6, 2017. Prior to the repairs, whenever it rained, the mother and her son had to go to friends or family to sleep, as the home would be inundated with water. They were unable to repair the roof due to financial constraints.
St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation requested permission from the landowner to remove old zinc sheets and tarpaulin that had been on the roof, replacing them with new zinc sheets. A total of four volunteers from the Maho group used their holiday (Dragon Boat Festival) to assist the family. The volunteers were very grateful for the opportunity to assist the St. Maarten community before they left the island at the end of June.
The second repaired home is located in Fort Willem Hill. A separate group of four Maho contractors assisted to repair the home of a diabetic resident. The resident is unable to work as one of his feet was amputated due to his diabetic condition. Hurricane Irma left his home leaking and he too has been unable to conduct repairs due financial constraints. A separate group of Maho group volunteers helped the resident to repair the roof.
He was very appreciative for the help from the volunteers. The volunteers not only repaired the roof, but also cleaned up garbage that had piled up by his front door.
The third home that was repaired is located on Soualiga Road on Pond Island. The resident of this home lives in a container due to his home’s state of disrepair. The resident is paralysed from the waist down due to an accident several years ago and is currently in Colombia to treat a condition that he developed from sitting too long. His home has no GEBE-powered electricity and he uses solar panels to power a single light and a refrigerator.
The families of all three homes are grateful for the volunteers’ assistance, kind gestures, hard work and professionalism in repairing their homes and for bringing smiles to their faces as the 2019 hurricane season has started.
The single mother said she has been suffering for two years in her own home due to the damage sustained during Irma and she is grateful to Tzu Chi and its founder Master Cheng Yen for their assistance.
She also said that just the night before the volunteers came, the family could not sleep in their home because it rained and water was entering the home. The family said they are now happy to be able to stay and sleep in their home, whether it rains or not.
The resident of the third home said that since Hurricane Irma went with his roof, he had been unable to fix it until the assistance of Tzu Chi and the volunteers, for which he is very grateful.
Tzu Chi Commissioner Sandra Cheung expressed gratitude to the volunteers for their benevolence in assisting the families and making them more comfortable in their homes, and to the families involved for graciously accepting the assistance.
The volunteers were happy to assist and give something back to St. Maarten, which has been their temporary home for several months as they worked on rebuilding the destroyed Maho hotel, which recently reopened.
The contractors left the country and returned to their homes at the end of June.