Guyana: Mentally ill woman rescued

Guyana Chronicle:-A WOMAN of unsound mind of Bush Lot Village, West Coast Berbice, was rescued from horrendous living conditions that she had been enduring over the past 15 years.

Sixty-eight-year-old Hemwattie Maheep was taken by officers attached to the welfare office of the Ministry of Social Protection, after they were notified of the conditions by Suresh Sugrim of the Humanitarian Mission Guyana and Bush Lot/Armadale Community Development Council officer, Latchmin Azeez.

According to Sugrim, he was made aware of the situation and visited the home to get a first-hand look at the situation Sunday last.

“I wanted to see what was happening, to know where the organisation can offer help, but then I realised these persons need medical help first,” Sugrim said.

When the Guyana Chronicle visited the house, a stench was detectable from the gate and got worse as one got closer.

The yard was filled with mud, urine and bushes, the door for the upper flat was unlocked, faeces was visible all around with fresh urine in the middle of the floor.

In front of the bedroom door lay a small one-inch thick sponge on the floor, in the corner of the bedroom was a plate with plain white rice that appeared to be a few days old and there was no bed nor pillow.

Hemwattie looked up from the corner at us as we stood in front of the door, her hair unkempt, face stained with smut, nails long and dirty, clothes torn and filthy.

She just stared, not saying anything nor responding. Over in the other corner Baijee, her son who is also said to be of unsound mind, stared as well then started screaming towards the wall. We quickly exited the house. This visit was on Sunday, May 1.

Downstairs behind the heap of garbage in the corner we saw Usha Chetram, Maheep’s daughter. She smiled and said, “Nah bother with me brother, he a run off,” referring to the noises her brother was making.

When questioned on who takes care of her mom and brother, she said she hasn’t been receiving help for either, but whenever she is at home she would cook and “give me mother lil food.” When asked whether she would give the brother too, she didn’t answer, but remarked that “he a trip sometime.”

The Welfare Department was notified by Sugrim on Monday and Tuesday. However, they leaped into action on Wednesday, declaring the conditions at the house “not fit for living” and made arrangements to have Maheep taken to the Fort Wellington hospital.

Miraculously, the woman was given a clean bill of health and was recommended for psychiatric evaluations and that she be placed in a home. Until that can be done, the Welfare Department has recommended that Maheep be placed in the Hugo Chavez Centre, a home for the homeless at Onverwagt, West Coast of Berbice.

When the Welfare Department visited the home, Baigee was not at home and it was said that he had gone out to work by neighbours.

They said he would do odd jobs around the village and would occasionally be seen talking to himself. They said, however, whenever he was around he would work to get food for himself and mother.

He was also taken to the Fort Wellington Hospital, where he was recommended for a psychiatric evaluation.

Speaking with this newspaper, Sugrim said he was very happy for the prompt response by the Ministry of Social Protection, especially Minister Volda Lawrence who acted quickly and was able to remove the woman from the inhumane conditions under which she was living.

“I want to thank the minister and her team for working so effectively to address this matter and bring some sanity to this lady and her family. Her ministry serves as a role model and also her officers in Region Five, who have acted very promptly in working in conjunction with the NY Jersey mission in addressing this issue and kudos to those two wonderful officers and all the members of the Social Protection Ministry from Georgetown to Berbice.”

Neighbours also expressed gratitude to the relevant persons who took the initiative to provide help to the woman. One villager mentioned that the living conditions were terrible as “the only thing the woman was holding on to is life.”