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Wednesday 13 November 2019
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Dream old folks’ home 2 weeks away

Victorine Benjamin Charles wants to open a senior citizen;s home in Belle Garden, Tobago by mid-August.

Photo: Corey Connelly
Victorine Benjamin Charles wants to open a senior citizen;s home in Belle Garden, Tobago by mid-August. Photo: Corey Connelly

Victorine Benjamin-Charles’s dream of establishing a senior citizens' home in Tobago, after returning from the United States, will become a reality by the end of August. Benjamin-Charles first told Newsday in July she would open the home in mid-August but was unable to do so because the furniture only arrived on Tuesday.

After returning to Tobago in 2009, she began working on a start-up plan for a comfortable and safe place for Tobago’s seniors. She said her aim when caring for seniors is to “let them know there are people who still care for them even though some family members decide they want no responsibilities," The home, Hope and Joy Assisted Living Day and Residential Care for the Elderly, will be at Carbo Place, Bay Road, Belle Garden. Benjamin-Charles is confident it will fill the void left by the lack of quality facilities in Tobago, specifically on the eastern side of the island.

The home will assist those, living in isolated areas seeking elderly-care services. On Friday she said villagers are excited about the opening of the home and have expressed interest in her daycare services. It will start off with two residents and she is expecting the numbers to grow quickly.

“I’m ready to change the way care for the elderly is done in Tobago, because for me it’s not about the money. I feel the need to provide this comfort and care for them. They will have prayer sessions along with walks on the beach, to keep them active, since the building is overlooking the beach.”

The mother of one said she has established alliances with various departments in the health and social services sectors on the island. Benjamin-Charles has worked in the field of geriatrics in the US. During that time, she said, a dream of establishing a home to bring hope to seniors, in TT kept recurring.

“I am seeing myself in hospital clothes and I am working. I have been (having the dream) for years. Even when I was out there working. I kept asking myself, 'Why should I be dreaming this?' and would you believe when I decided to do this, the dreams went, because this is what I had to do.” Benjamin-Charles started a home in Valencia when she returned to TT after a plan to acquire property in Mason Hall did not work out. She is now determined to continue to use her passion to improve the quality of care to Tobago’s elderly.

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