The Division of Health and Social services changed the course of six people's lives on Tuesday by providing them with vouchers to purchase basic household good and amenities.
These persons received grants by virtue of being in untenable living conditions due to natural occurrences, fire, poverty or being disabled.
The Director of Social Services, Mrs. Sherma Frank-Joseph, described the grants as assisting Tobagonians in difficult situations and sharing for needy persons. The funds were made available using the General Assistance grant. The Director said that the ability to purchase items such as a stove or a bed can really make the difference to a family physically in terms of preparing food and getting rest which will then improve the family psychologically and socially.
The Secretary of the Division of Health and Social Services told the gathered recipients that development, wellness and the reduction of poverty were the aims of the Division and despite the Division's best efforts, 19% of Tobagonians or 11,400 persons were under the poverty line. She noted that evaluations and improvement of the quality of life in Tobago are ongoing. She thanked the clients for working with the Division in providing information about their cases, filling out the forms and having patience with the process.
One of the recipients, Lester Roberts, shared his story with us. His house had been completely destroyed in a landslide three years ago. When NEMA examined the site, they said it would be unsafe to rebuild in the same spot, but they recommended his case to the Social Welfare Unit. Since then he has lived in temporary accommodations and is still looking for a more permanent solution. On Tuesday, he was provided with a stove, a bed and a chest of drawers to begin reshaping his life.