St. John’s, Antigua – Thursday, July 9, 2020: Local contractor Vernon Challenger of Challenger’s Enterprises Ltd. has been awarded the contract for the first phase of the Wa’omoni Cottages, Barbuda Hurricane relief project. The project is being funded by the Calvin Ayre Foundation, in partnership with The Prince’s Foundation.
The two Foundations announced the partnership in January, 2020, with CAF significantly contributing US$1M to the initiative, intended to provide resilient homes for families left homeless as a result of the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the partners on Wednesday, May 20 at Government House, to move the Barbuda housing relief initiative to the next stage.
“Challenger’s Enterprises Ltd. is pleased to be associated with the Wa’omoni Cottages project and The Prince’s Foundation. We are also delighted to be working (again) with The Calvin Ayre Foundation (CAF), which has a proven track record of community-building and excellence,” said Vernon Challenger, Managing Director of Challenger’s Enterprises Ltd. “The project takes on added significance, not only because of the positive impact for the housing stock on Barbuda, but also because during the dislocation caused by Covid-19, where each of us in our own small corner must play a part, it will be a net positive for the country.”
In response to the US$1M donation by CAF, Challenger, added, “This is money that will go directly into the economy via the workers, who will come from both islands, and through the procurement of goods and services from local providers.”
The local contractor travelled to Barbuda last Wednesday to officially meet with the Barbuda Council, which has been closely involved in the development of the initiative, identifying land that was cleared and surveyed in January, in preparation for construction.
“The Barbuda Council and the people of Barbuda are delighted, with much excitement, to know that we are shifting gears towards breaking ground for the Wa’omoni Cottages shortly” said Calsey Beazer, Chairperson of the Barbuda Council.
Jeremy Cross of The Prince’s Foundation, who visited Antigua and Barbuda in January to help advance the plans, said: “We are pleased to be working closely with The Government of Antigua and Barbuda, The Barbuda Council and our key partners to ensure that Barbuda gets much-needed homes that are resilient, sustainable and appropriate for Barbuda. With the extremely generous support that CAF has committed to the project, as well as other partners including the Halo Foundation, it is exciting that work will now soon start on site. ”
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, Sen. Knacyntar Nedd, also expressed similar sentiments.
“I know many Barbudans are looking forward to seeing this Prince’s Foundation/Calvin Ayre Foundation housing project come to fruition. It will provide much meaningful employment for contractors and tradesmen. It also means that homeowners in Barbuda who were not able to rebuild after Hurricane Irma, will have the opportunity to get a hurricane-resilient home for them and their families.”
The Prince’s Foundation’s support to Barbuda follows a visit to the twin-island state by charity president HRH The Prince of Wales following the 2017 disaster. Having seen the desolation first-hand, The Prince’s Foundation wanted to help rebuild in a way that ensures housing is resilient in the face of future climate challenges.
The Calvin Ayre Foundation, well known for a range of philanthropic activity and support in Antigua and Barbuda and beyond, was also keen to find a way to respond to the housing needs of the people of Barbuda, supplying funding and technical support to the design and construction of the houses.