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5 Turnbull pic 10-11 Opinion 12 Wellingtonian interview
15 Dining 17-18 Arts
the world 12
life of Michael
Cold, damp and unhealthy
Worried mother: Sahra Farah fears for the
health of her unborn child in her Housing New
Photo: JARED NICOLL
By JARED NICOLL
Refugee's flat a health risk
A pregnant Somalian refugee fears for her
unborn child after dampness in her Hous-
ing New Zealand residence contributed to
respiratory disease in her four-year-old
Unemployed Strathmore resident Sahra
Farah s daughter Suwayda developed
breathing problems associated with cold
and damp living conditions about two
months after moving into the family s
Ms Farah now says she is afraid her baby
could develop the same health problems if
she cannot find a new place to live.
She has been waiting about three years
for a new residence, but Housing New Zea-
land has told her she does not meet criteria
to be placed on a priority waiting list.
Speaking through an interpreter, Ms
Farah said Suwayda had not suffered from
asthma or eczema before the pair moved
into a ground-floor Housing New Zealand
apartment near Scots College.
The apartment got so cold that there was
moisture on the walls and the dampness
had created an odd odour, Ms Farah said.
At night time Suwayda doesn t sleep at
all sometimes -- coughing and cold, she
Ms Farah said she could not afford to
rent in the private market and money had
been tighter during winter because of the
cost of heating the apartment.
I don t even have 20 bucks left by the
time I ve paid my weekly bills, she said.
For the power bill, in the winter time, I
put aside $30 weekly.
Wellington Somali Council social worker
Jamie Berwick said the Strathmore apart-
ment was in poor condition and Ms Fahra
was justified in worrying her next child
could also suffer respiratory problems.
There s a lack of insulation, no carpet to
keep it warm and it s in the ground, Ms
This is the lowest level apartment so
that makes it more damp and it doesn t get
any sun -- it s very stressful.
The Somali Council has tried to get Ms
Farah a new residence, but has been told
her situation was not dire enough to meet
Housing New Zealand s priority waiting list
Ms Farah had also waited about two
years for a Wellington City Council housing
property, but the council could only offer
her a three-month lease.
No permanent housing would be avail-
able until next year, Ms Berwick said.
We have a paediatrician s letter saying
they ve tested Suwayda for everything and
it s her damp and cold house that s causing
her to have [trouble breathing].
The doctor wrote letters of support
advocating for them to move and so has her
GP, but that hasn t helped, Ms Berwick
Housing New Zealand media spokes-
woman Lisa Mulitalo said Ms Farah s
application for a transfer to another resi-
dence was not completed because Ms Farah
had failed to supply required documen-
Ms Farah s request for carpet had been
declined because the flat was in good con-
dition and had electric heating. However,
the flat had now been approved for under-
floor heating and draft-stopping work, Ms
Housing New Zealand Corporation Wel-
lington regional manager Symon Leggett
said tenants had a role to play in that a
house would only be warm if it was heated
and insulation alone would not do that.
Looking sheepish: Grace Daines, 9, from Wairarapa,
brought a woolly friend to town last Friday.
Grace was part of a group of Wairarapa children who
paraded their pet lambs down Lambton Quay.
Wellingtonians were also treated to a sheep-shearing
display by Paul Avery and Colin King, who sheared eight
sheep at the railway station.
The events were held to mark Wool Week and the launch
of the global Campaign for Wool, a five-year project to
promote wool as a sustainable, environmentally friendly
Exporter Craig Smith said the shearing displays had
garnered interest from the public.
''We've come all the way over from the Wairarapa and it's
great to see the public take an interest. You don't usually
see lambs on Lambton Quay, after all.''
The international campaign for wool was started by Prince
Charles last year.
Photo: REBECCA THOMSON
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