HAGUE, Trelawny - Hague Heights resident Roy Lawrence was among the more than 130 householders living in squalor in a slum near the Falmouth Market up to three years ago.
He too was among those who were vehemently opposed to being relocated in order to facilitate the development of the $7.5 billion Falmouth Port Project, in the historic seaside town.
But on Tuesday Lawrence, as well as the residents who initially resisted the relocation exercise were singing a different tune.
They now claim that their quality of life has significantly improved since they have moved to their new dwellings in Hague Heights, a community which overlooks the parish capital, where they once lived.
"The lifestyle has changed. First and foremost nothing grew in Dump. But up here you have to be careful how you sweep out a pea grain because everything grows here.... the place is so fertile," Lawrence quipped.
He added: "On a personal level yesterday (Monday, February, 4) was my 50th birth date and it is the best one I ever had. Unlike living in Dump, I now have a feeling of accomplishment".
At Hague Heights, the residents say, the land is arable and there is an abundance of piped, as opposed to the lone standpipe, which they were accustomed to at Dump.
Dump was considered a hotbed for crime but so far, that negative image of the residents has significantly diminished, since they have been relocated.
" The police are all over the place and I am particularly glad because as long as they are there we can't get no bad name. First time when you see police at Dump you would wonder who is in trouble," Lawrence pointed out.
He was speaking to the Observer West following a ceremony in Hague on Tuesday where 21 persons were handed keys — by Minister Transport, Works and Housing Ministry Dr Omar Davies and Minister without portfolio (Housing) in the Transport, Works and Housing Ministry Dr Morais Guy — to brand new houses constructed by Food for the Poor in collaboration with the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ).
The partnership was responsible for the construction of 31 wooden structures for some of the residents.
The keys to 10 of the units were handed over to needy residents on a previous occasion.
The recipients who turned up at handing over ceremony all expressed their gratitude for the much- needed gift.
"I feel good that I have the key to my own door to enter with my five sons. Here is a better place than Dump where I was living before, so I feel comfortable," expressed Theresa Spencer.
Clinton Powell, another resident, was also overjoyed.
" I feel grateful about what HAJ and Food for the Poor have delivered to us and the community. I feel very comfortable," he said.
Apart from the 31 units constructed by Food for the Poor and the HAJ, other structures have been erected by members in the community.