19% of Tobago living in poverty

By Ralph Crouch

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.

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Anonymous said on Friday, Mar 30 at 10:12 AM

When i hear,these things words becomes helpless tools.I do want to cry ,but my tears would soon dry.If i say God bless you,would it lift them up from the dire.Do i fold my arms as we gloom away into poverty.Do i have a voice as i have beign told,and would they listen to my pleading soul. Brother,Sister, Friend can you please share your bread.If its power,education,whatever,hold my hand,stand by my side.For even if you hide i still remain a light.Doe you shine ,i shine even more,for i cannot be ignored.Doe you close your eyes,in the night my blood doth cry.They who steal,lie shows no care,thats my blood lifted from the ground. So my brother ,look at me, doe i am black i can be fair.May i dear say fairer and brighter than you could ever be.For as the moon do shine in the dark,inside of me the sun do shine.Do not be blind,do not ignore,for i am but a weak man,filled with all the wisdom and wealth of God.Without me you have no life,so lets join together and recieve true everlasting life

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Anonoymous said on Friday, Mar 30 at 6:54 PM

These assistance Programme as I can see are for those you know or those who knows you. I know of age individuals who seek assistance for assistance with medicine because they are diabetics and is always a push around, (go to this division, go to that division). The response is if you receive NIS or old age pension you are not eligible for such assistance. We need to stop this nepotism and help those that are really in need for these assistance Programme.

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The Truth said on Saturday, Mar 31 at 3:18 AM

A very sad picture of life in Tobago today and with tourism falling off a cliff,together with an escalation of crime,regret to say that in the short term until the authorities pull together in Tobago's best interest instead of their own corrupt way then things will only get worse for the poor and needy.

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19% on such a small island is said on Saturday, Mar 31 at 7:23 AM

absolutely disgusting and reflects badly on the 'oligarch' mentality that prevails instead of a one for all and all for one mind-set that would help to make everyone happy. 'born in tobago' is a short-straw, let's not mince words as to why but potentially it has everything that caribbean locals should need; corruption leaves a lot to be desired and greed kills. spare a thought for those less fortunate than yourselves is a plea to the fortunates who live in luxury. it's an island, work for each other and enjoy it.

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Londoner said on Saturday, Mar 31 at 10:59 AM

Surprised it is not more than that. The people need jobs and something to inspire them.

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Oil and gas said on Saturday, Mar 31 at 5:07 PM

Tobago Population is roughly 60000, with Oil and Gas and tourism, EVERYONE should live in a decent villa with pool etc. Now look at where we at, it's a shame!

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Oil and gas said on Saturday, Mar 31 at 5:10 PM

Gas and oil money only stays in a few hands of upper class white and Indian Trinidadians, they are so filthy rich, it's ridiculous

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Anonymous said on Sunday, Apr 1 at 9:08 AM

My heart is sad over the treatment of the poor in Tobago, money for tourism ,money from oil , the list goes on, the officials prosper and the poor continue to suffer,Tobago hang your head in shame,please help these people , the money is there use it for a good reason, make life better for your own, less money to the rich more for the poor

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A - Wacs said on Monday, Apr 2 at 10:45 AM

The people who saying 19% of Tobago poor it's they who controlling the financial resources and have it to themsemlves, their relatives and friends. They spend millions of dollars on entertainment and all kinds of foolishness. So - how others won't suffer.

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Batchak said on Monday, Apr 2 at 10:03 PM

Poverty is relative! Abject poverty is when you eat 1 small serving of food once a day and some days no food at all. Even Joe Flex eat 3 square meals a day. There is not poverty like you see in some Africa countries or Asian. countries.

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Proud Tobago Girl said on Monday, Apr 2 at 11:25 PM

So according to this article 11,400 Tobagonians live under the poverty line and the way to deal with the matter is to buy them a stove to put in "temporary accomodations?". How will that assist in the long term? I sense that the intent of this piece was to highlight and praise the work of the Division but really an overblown story of furniture for 6 people in temporary accomodation is not the best approach. There are after all 11,394 others left.

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Me said on Tuesday, Apr 3 at 5:20 AM

That is one of the factors that makes our youths criminals. Poverty! Threres an old saying that states: it's better to live one year standing on your feet, than it is to live 50 on your knees

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Realistic said on Thursday, Apr 5 at 9:49 AM

60 million for tourism and yet 19% of the general population live under the poverty line,relying on handouts and charity to get by. How totally unacceptable for a so called civilised society.

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the virginian said on Thursday, Apr 5 at 1:51 PM

Realistic,I'm simply speculating here,but maybe if it weren't for that $60 million tourist investment that 19% might have been dwarfed.What's the annual take from tourism,directly and indirectly,in Tobago?And,what's the poverty line for,say,a family of four? Yes,one person in poverty is one too many but all "civilized societies"struggle with pockets of poverty,some more than others so it's not unique to Tobago.The scourge of poverty is also a major challenge for advanced nations such as US,Canada,UK and a host of others.

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Anonymous said on Friday, Apr 6 at 3:56 AM

Tobago has only 70 ooo thousand people,no excuse for such high poverty rate.With all the bad spending of money happening in the goverment.Noexcuse whgatsoever,regardless how well written our intelligent it may sound.ZERO TOLLERANCE.

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Anonymous said on Friday, Apr 6 at 8:16 AM

let them eat cake

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Health Fanatic said on Saturday, Apr 7 at 6:22 PM

Perhaps in due course we would hear about the Division's plans for Wellness Promotion. Hopefully there will be a Wellness initiative that would target students at all levels of the education sector.

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Anonymous said on Sunday, Apr 8 at 8:10 AM

well fanatic

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Ing said on Sunday, Apr 8 at 9:08 PM

So glad,comments are more repectful and not hateful as before. Great ideas are finally coming out. There is hope for Tobago. Well done people, we can solve our problems. Let us keep the constructive dialogue going. About poverty, some people priorities are screwed up. Education is key,use our natural resources. When I was a child my grandparents worked the land. Few people are interested farming and are not using our natural resources. A lot aa people want fast food and imported stuff, from"foreign". Yes they have people in tobago who are not as fortunate financially as some, but most people in Tobago own a peice of land. Use the land, not all that glitter is gold. Enjoy what you have and forget about the Jones,live simple and happy. Everybody wants a cell phone and big flat scene TV with internet sevice. Back to basic is not all that bad.

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Anonymous said on Monday, Apr 9 at 1:26 PM

Well said Ing

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The Truth said on Monday, Apr 9 at 6:04 PM

However,19% of the population living in poverty is a total disgrace and nothing to be proud of,regardless of the great ideas coming forward!!We need action to redress these very serious issues,not talk.

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James said on Monday, Apr 9 at 7:23 PM

With the 50th anniversary of Independence I hope there would be lectures on the history of Tobago that would include the history of self - reliant Tobagonians. This should help people get off the dependency syndrome.

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Anonymous said on Wednesday, Apr 11 at 10:47 AM

James please share with us ,some meaninful ideas on how Tobagonians can get off this ,as you call it dependency syndrome..what have you done for your country ,to diminsh this syndrome.

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RJ said on Friday, Apr 13 at 10:57 AM

Three years and this individual has not been rehoused, while there is somuch money being wasted on tourism officials. We need to teach the fisherman how to fish instead of giving him only a fisn!!!

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Anonymous said on Saturday, Apr 14 at 4:50 PM

while the statistic may seem alarming,the solution lies in understanding the underlying factors. two such factors is the loss of our tendency to cooperate instead of compete with each other and the destuction of our good work ethic, we have being looking towards tridad for our standards.

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Tobago Mother said on Wednesday, Apr 18 at 5:35 PM

There is a definite disconnect between the people who are "poor" and are unemployed,and those who have resources ,need help and cannot get. Are some poor people unemployable ? Something is not right here. I hear so many people say that they cannot get local employees . Maybe, the government should partner with the police( for individual verification and set up an employment registry.

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Tobago Mother said on Wednesday, Apr 18 at 10:52 PM

Secondly,I am sorry for those who lost posessions through fire and flood .Just like NIS, People must be encouraged to have home owners insurance and such. For the unemployed ones, these people really need to be exposed to some training (like OJT preparatory training ) and paired with persons who cannot find employeees.

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