PRESIDENT Paula-Mae Weekes marvelled yesterday at the work of the Healing With Horses Foundation in Buccoo, Tobago.
The non-governmental organisation, founded by Veronika La Fortune of Germany 11 years ago, rehabilitates ailing horses and also provides a therapeutic space for the island’s special-needs children.
Weekes, who toured the rustic facility as part of her first official visit to Tobago, did not address the small gathering, but was visibly impressed by the attention given to the children, and vowed to work with La Fortune on future endeavours to keep the foundation afloat.
She also was presented with a portrait, titled Hope, in commemoration of her inaugural address which urged citizens to play their part in ridding the country of its many social ills. Artist and volunteer Gail Pantin painted the portrait, which was presented by Christiano, one of the special-needs children.
“The children know about your speech and we are willing to work with you,” Pantin told Weekes, who interacted warmly with the children and volunteers at the centre. “We hope we can have a better country, better tomorrow and that is why it (the portrait) is called Hope.”
La Fortune told Weekes: “One hand does not clap. In collaboration we can do it together. You see my goosebumps. You (Weekes) are the right one, and we all think so.”
Weekes, who thanked Pantin for the portrait, later received an earful about the challenges confronting the organisation, including insufficient funding.
La Fortune told Weekes an estimated 180 children have passed through the foundation since it started and, despite her challenges, she regards her work as a labour of love.
Weekes also met briefly with Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles and was expected to attend a cocktail reception last evening at the Magdalena Grand resort in Lowlands.