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Woman with disability needs help

RITA Sablan, a 42-year-old local resident with a disability, and her husband Jack Cepeda are hoping that someone will help them relocate from their makeshift shack in Koblerville.

“We just want to move out of here,” Sablan said. “We don’t intend to annoy, hurt or trouble anybody — we’re just asking for help.”

She said they have to use rusting tin roofing as “walls” for their shack where they have been residing for almost a year.

The shack has neither electricity nor running water, Sablan said, adding that she and her husband depend on income from the Social Security’s disability benefit program.

Her uncle Ben Basa, who helped them reached out to the media, said the couple needs immediate attention. “They need to move out of here. This place is not livable,” he added.

Basa said he learned about the miserable conditions his niece was living in recently when he saw her in a wheelchair on a Koblerville roadside with her husband.

On Wednesday, the governor’s office asked the American Red Cross and the Commonwealth Advocates for Recovery Efforts to meet with Sablan and her husband.

But Basa said the American Red Cross has no program for relocating the couple to a decent housing unit while CARE pointed out that its assistance program is for people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Typhoon Soudelor in Aug. 2015.

He said he asked the representatives of the Red Cross and CARE to tell the governor’s office about the situation of his niece.

“If they really want to help, they can’t say they don’t have a program for people who need help. The governor can always reprogram funds and use his emergency powers.”

Ben Basa listens to his niece Rita Sablan while her husband Jack Cepeda looks on outside their shanty in Koblerville. Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

Basa is hoping that the CNMI government will help Sablan and her husband find at least temporary shelter.

He believes there are others in situations similar to Sablan’s, “but they are ashamed or unable to go to the proper agency of the government where they could find help.”

Basa said the government should address the problem of homelessness on Saipan.

“I thought our economy was progressing, and we were having lots of development. Why we are neglecting the homeless?”

Sablan said she has been asking for assistance from various government agencies and non-profit organizations including the Northern Marianas Housing Corp., Karidat Social Services, the Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy System Inc. and the American Red Cross-NMI Chapter.

In 2015, she said, she lost a leg in an accident. She then lost lost the other leg as a result of the dismal condition of their house.

“I am disabled and they don’t want to help me, but they are supporting people who are able to walk normally,” she said, referring to government agencies.

She said her husband stopped working so he could take care of her.

“I am not ashamed to knock on doors to get some help,” she added.

Basa said perhaps the Legislature or U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan could create or fund a program that provides housing units located near the hospital for indigent people with disabilities.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/100538-woman-with-disability-needs-help

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