IN fulfilling its mandate to reduce poverty and strengthen the social infrastructure across communities, the National Commission for Self Help Ltd (NCSHL) on Monday distributed $600,000 grants to 43 families across Tobago.
During the ceremony at the Division of Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour’s Conference Hall, CEO Elroy Julien noted that during the period August 2018 to July 2020, the commission distributed approximately $27.2 million worth of grants. He said, Tobago received over 17 per cent of that figure over the last two years – $4.6 million.
“You may recall that approximately two years ago, I mentioned to you that the commission will have a heightened interest in the development of the communities in Tobago and will ensure that Tobago receives a more equitable piece of the commission’s allocation, we have kept our word and we have delivered on that promise,” he said making specific mention to a partnership with the St Clair’s Coaching School whereby, the commission presented a grant to the school, geared at assisting with refurbishing the facility in an effort to provide improved service, physical exercise and fitness for the youths.
“This coaching school project will support health and wellness in our youths and assist us in confronting the lifestyle diseases in our population.
PNM Tobago East candidate Ayanna Webster Roy said Tobagonians were “fortunate” to be able to benefit.
“I say this coming from a backdrop where having interacted with persons from throughout the Caribbean and persons from around the world and having attending United Nations commission on the status of women, where I would have heard the experiences of other persons who live in territories where they are not fortunate in times of need to receive the assistance of the government. When they need to do work on their home, it is not expected that the government would do it for them but they have to fund it themselves or seek assistance through their insurance insuring their home etc…
"Where communities and countries with development of community-based organisations and community-based facilities (are concerned), it's not looked at as the responsibility of the State but indeed the responsibility of the voluntary sector and corporate citizens, so we are indeed fortunate in Trinidad and Tobago to have these social safety nets made available to us,” she said.
Tobago West candidate Shamfa Cudjoe noted that the government has heard the cry of herself and Webster-Roy to have the self-help grant reintroduced to Tobago.
“Tobago would have been cut off from the National Self-Help Commission on receiving grants in and around 2014. In 2013 something happened, then Tobago was just cut off… so I am happy that under this government, we were able to reintroduce these grants. So, it’s all about co-operation and not just providing to Tobago but giving us an increased allocation. We have been able to expand the reach from not just home refurbishment and construction of homes but in community projects,” she said.
PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine was present to represent Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis, while THA Secretary of Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour, Marslyn Melville-Jack and the commission’s director Marissa Williams were present and assisted in the distribution process.
These funds were allocated through the Minor Repair Reconstruction Grant and the Emergency Repair Reconstruction Grant Programmes which are managed by the NCSHL, an agency of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts. It is part of the commission’s initiative to provide relief to our applicants who qualify as some of the most vulnerable citizens in our society – senior citizens, single mothers, low-income families.