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Mama Ilea in NOLA (Please Help If You Can)…

Update: 3/10/2015
Together, with your help, we raised over $1,200 to assist this family.  The family has moved to their new home and we used your donations to help cover their transition costs to ease their transition into a lead-safe environment.  The family has ongoing needs in conjunction with their transition – and additional contributions are still welcome.  Thank you.  We will ask Ilea to post a personal update soon as well.

Please read and share and help Mama Ilea in New Orleans if you can. You can donate HERE to make a designated donation in support of this family. Please also watch the video – it’s so important and so very upsetting. [Note, excuse the language – this is how most of us “mama bears” react when others threaten the health and well being of our “littles.”]


ileagirlsHey Tamara,

These are my girls, Indira and Iris. We live near City Park in New Orleans, LA.

​Our neighbors have been working on their house since May. They have two little kids too. Before they started the work I used one of the lead test kits you sent me to test their peeling paint. It came up positive and I pulled my neighbor aside and said “Hey, you know you have lead paint right?” and she was like, “Yeah I know. Don’t worry we’ll get it taken care of right.”

ileayardWell, they didn’t.

On 1/28/15 I woke up to the sound of something hitting my house. I went out my kitchen door and was greeted by a ladder and a workman dropping lead painted siding into my yard.

​I begged them to stop. They wouldn’t. I used another lead test kit to test it in front of them. I tested one on video.

All of my kids toys, their sand box, my garden is covered in lead paint chips and dust.

New Orleans Mama from Tamara Rubin on Vimeo.

​I went out front and found out they were dry sanding! I tested that too – more lead paint. They weren’t using any protective equipment. My car was covered in lead paint chips and dust!

I ended up leaving the house—and when I did, “Jeffery” from the contractors came over and spoke to my husband. My husband recorded it.

I talked to my neighbor, I used another test kit to test one in front of her. She said, “well we had the place sanded 10 years ago, so I don’t know what to tell you, but I’m sure the contractor knows what they are doing.”

Other than sweeping up and then dumping that dust into an open dumpster – where you can watch it just blowing away on the breeze through the neighborhood – they have done absolutely nothing NOTHING not. a. single. solitary. thing. to clean up the mess they caused, or to prevent more contamination from happening. I should also mention that we live directly across the street from a school’s playground.

This morning I woke up to a workman power washing the peeling paint off the house’s eaves—and producing a whole new layer of lead paint chips.​

I could just cry—my kids already had elevated blood lead levels as toddlers (Indira’s was a 16 and Iris’s was a 22!) I worked really hard to make this place as lead safe as possible—I paid to repaint the inside of my house since my landlord wouldn’t; I got rid of all my vintage dishware; we used our savings to put a layer of new soil down on top of the old soil. Now my kids can’t play in their own yard anymore. I’m going to have to dispose of their outside toys including the sandbox I built for them [as “hazardous waste”]. We urgently need to move the kids to a safe house, and I have very little money to do it. Our finances are still recovering from Katrina (we were in Chalmette; had a foot of water in the attic.)

I found a lead-free house that we can move into in just about two weeks. I gave them what was left of my savings to hold the place for us. The owner said we can do a rent-to-own contract, but I need about $3000 for additional deposits (we have some of what we need but not all), moving expenses (like the truck0, and to switch my husband’s cards and licenses to the new address. I don’t have family I could borrow this from. I feel very stuck and frustrated and fearful for my kids’ health. I’d be immensely grateful or any help you could provide.

Thank you,

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done.
One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow.
Today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”
–Dalai Lama

Donate HERE to support Ilea and her family’s transition to a lead-safe home.
Thank you.

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