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Living on Stilts

The term, ‘life is a struggle’ may be viewed as being used loosely. But what does it mean to have to struggle? The definition varies for many homes and families. Some may lack in food; some may lack in shelter while some may just be unable to pay all their living expenses. Tonight, we take a look at the struggles of three families on the south side of Belize City who are lacking in many ways. Reporter Vejea Alvarez has the story.

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: London bridges, makeshift houses on stilts and children carrying gallons of water back and forth from this public pipe. That’s the sad reality that the over thirty people living in the Antelope Street extension area face on a daily basis. Their deplorable living conditions and lack of basic human needs have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. One of the residents, 28 year old Philip Ramirez, says that access to clean water is challenging particularly when it rains in the area. 

Phillipa Ramirez, Resident: If you notice how the bridge set out when it gets flooded the bridges start to run off. We have snakes back here. To get water we go to the public pipe. You can’t even bathe because the little water you have you have to use it to wash your dishes so you can eat because you have to eat. And when it was raining the other day that’s the thing I can’t go out for any water I had to come and beg my brother for a little bit. He didn’t have any either because he doesn’t have water the same way. So we had to try get somebody from at the front to come in using rubber boots and the water was far past his rubber boots to come and get us some drinking water back here.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News:  The residents of the area say that apart from not having potable water they’re also faced with rodents and insects. 24 year old Kylie Ramclam says that she moved to the area to escape paying rent but with cheaper rent the situation has worsened. On rainy days Kylie is forced to maneuver her way in knee high waters. 

Kylie Ramclam, Resident: Back here it’s really tough to come in at the entrance of the bridge that’s number one. The bridge is really broken up and we barely have entrance to walk in. I live more to the back you can’t even reach there because back there has too much water, a lot of water. We don’t have any water back here, that’s rough. We don’t have any water then the mosquitos and things a lot of mosquitos, a lot of animals.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News:  These single mothers say that they have tried to apply for utilities to be set up in the area but with no proper thoroughfares or official mapping it has proven impossible. According to Sadie Ramirez who grew up in the area a street is desperately needed.

Sadie Ramirez, Resident:  “Well you see the condition for you to come in how you start to walk. WASA is not coming back here, BEL is not coming back here for this situation right here, they will tell you cold you need the street. So we need to come together because according to them you need about twenty five or thirty people residing in the area to come together.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News:  It is interesting to note that many of the residents in this area are squatters who are living on a prayer that the government would step in to help improve their living conditions. Squatting has been an ongoing issue particularly in the Collet and Lake Independence area in Belize City.

UNICEF estimates that six out of ten children in Belize lack at least one basic needs, ranging from adequate nutrition to clean drinking water; from proper sanitation to adequate housing and to access to education and information.