The National Commission for Self Help Ltd (NCSHL) has distributed $900,000 worth of grants in San Fernando to 45 people to start community development projects and repair their homes.
The distribution ceremony took place on Friday at City Hall at Harris Promenade.
San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello and Sport and Community Development Minister Shamfa Cudjoe called on citizens to be their brother’s keeper.
Regrello reminisced that when his grandparents were building a Baptist church in Vistabella, the couple cooked food and invited community members to help with the construction.
"In a matter of weeks, the church was constructed. Self Help started in 1987, with this concept — working together and helping each other," Regrello said.
He urged the recipients to spend the grants wisely, adding that they could do more with less by working together.
Cudjoe, who gave the feature address, said as a Tobagonian, she remembered the principle of "lend hand" growing up in Bethel.
"It is unfortunate the practice is not as popular and practised as it was back then. Today, we are far from that," Cudjoe said.
She too encouraged people to look out for each other and their communities.
Cudjoe said as the line minister, it is her duty to work diligently with the commission not only to respond but respond promptly to people.
She said the pandemic and the bad weather have posed challenges to the ministry.
She said the grants go beyond fixing houses, as they also improve the quality of life of generations.
NCSL CEO Elroy Julien said the commission sees opportunities in every difficult situation such as communities affected by natural disasters and fire. He referred to recent damage to homes caused by bad weather, saying a number of people have received grants.
Julien added, "We bring relief to you and your family. We are committed to expanding the access to our services through partnerships with other agencies."
He recalled that during the week, the commission and Habitat for Humanity had signed a memorandum of understanding.
To the recipients, Julien said: "We are here to support you during these challenging times. Go forth and rebuild your homes, your communities and your lives."
NCSHL’s chairman Anthony Campbell said the organisation is "hoping to do more for the vulnerable. It is about investing in our people to ensure they have a better standard of living."
He encouraged recipients to go to the selected hardware stores "almost immediately" after the ceremony.
Campbell told them that should they be short-changed, they should report it to the commission.
NCSHL gave out minor repairs and reconstruction grants, which are valued at up to $15,000, and emergency repairs reconstruction assistance grants worth up to $25,000.
The third grant distributed, under the development programme, is determined on a case-by-case basis with the board's approval.