The multimillion-dollar Hugo Chavez Centre for Rehabilitation and Reintegration, which was built to house almost 200 persons, remains grossly underused while the homeless continue to roam the streets.
Only about 25 persons are reported to be resident at the centre, located at Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice.
It was opened in August 10, 2013 to be a haven for homeless people from all over the country.
The two-storey building contains medical, recreational, kitchen, conference, training and dining facilities and can house 100 males and 80 females. It was built through a partnership arrangement between the Government of Guyana and the Government of Venezuela. Construction had started in 2010, with US$2 million being donated by the government of Venezuela and the government of Guyana providing $100 million.
However, the criteria for the admission into the home has still not been explained.
Stabroek News visited the centre on several occasions but was not allowed to enter.
When Stabroek News asked several homeless persons around the city about whether they were aware of the centre, most of them said no while some related that it was too far away.
“Well I does deh round hay [Bourda Market] all the time and I can’t say I does live good but I does survive, you know. We does get food and thing from people all the time and people might think we don’t eat good but people does bring good, good things fuh we to eat,” James (only name given) told Stabroek News. “Is not like we does choose to live like this but is what we does got to do sometimes and that’s just how it is. Is not like we don’t want to work either. If they build some place that we could stay and wuk then nuff a we willing to do it, you know,” he said, while explaining that he had not heard about the Hugo Chavez Centre.
Asked if he would be willing to go to the centre, he was unsure. “…Till up deh? Man, that’s far, buddy. That’s real far and away from civilization. I deh hay in town and I like it cause it does busy and you does see nuff people and then fuh have to go all the way till deh? Me ain’t know man,” he explained, while adding that although it sounds like a good opportunity for a lot of homeless persons, the distance is an issue.
Another homeless person explained that he had heard about the centre but has no idea on how to get in. “I de hear something about it somewhere once but I never hear back ’bout it and I never ask back. I would like to ’cause this road does be hard with the rain and thing and me ain’t mind if I got to work back. Knowing you got a roof over ya head is good and you getting food,” he added.
Several others around agreed that they would quickly take up the opportunity to be able to access the facility.