The death of nine-month-old Salileen Ramsaroop on September 21 has moved Talk show host Deryck Brathwaite to launch an NGO called the Every Child is your Child Foundation.
Speaking at the launch at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex on Wednesday, Brathwaite referred to reports of a Princes Town woman who allegedly injected a crying baby girl with a poisonous substance to stop her from crying two months ago.
The nine-month-old child became unresponsive and was taken to the Princes Town District Health Facility, where she was examined and transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH), where she reportedly died. The woman has since been charged.
On Wednesday, Brathwaite said, “I’m saying somebody fell down along the way as not to respond to her cry. She would have been crying in the wilderness and there was no place for her to go.
"Of course, you would hear them saying that there is the Child Protection Authority (sic) and other authorities that are there to support people in need of that nature. They would not come to a building or come to a seminar or anything of that nature, they have immediate needs.”
He said there has to be a way to meet people with immediate needs.
“There has to be a grassroot foundation that could accommodate those individuals that are affected by social faults. There are those individuals who are out there that need whatever help, and hence this foundation.”
Brathwaite said the aim of the foundation is to reach every child regardless of their social status, social standing and community background, to empower and to inspire the hopeless and downtrodden in the society.
He said the vision is to reach vulnerable children who may require support in any adverse circumstance to treat with their needs.
“What that speaks to – we just have to be our brother’s keeper. We are not here for fame or to look popular, or to sound like we’re doing this for the Facebook likes. This is about real issues to affect people’s lives differently in a positive way.”
He said his foundation was offering an opportunity to look out for one another.
“Loosely we often refer to a tradition that we all grow up with in this Tobago space. Particularly that it takes a village to raise a child. We use it loosely. And half of us don’t even know what it meant for the village to raise a child.
"That is no longer part of our culture, our practice, given that you maybe cannot reach a child and correct them and guide them accordingly. You’ll get in trouble for that.”
He said, currently, within the society, “there is lack of brotherly love, neighbourly love and support for each other.”
The foundation, he said, is in the process of being registered.
Spiritual friend of Brathwaite Marva Berkeley said she sees the foundation as an answer to the ills within the society.
“Just coming out of a pandemic, so many children would have fallen through the cracks in the education system, we realise that crime is on the increase especially among younger persons and sometimes the root of this is just that they need help.
"They need – whether it's spiritual help, whether it's just a plate of food or a toy or just to be hugged, just to be recognised, and it is really an honour for me to be part of this.”