Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 23rd 2014 Contents A10
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Five Minutes from Savannah
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Stroke victim Vidya Ramlogan lives on the streets
not because she wants to, but because she has
nowhere else to go.
Despite her desperate situation, Ramlogan says she
uses what little money she has to take care of other
"I came here to help homeless people. Some of
them cannot help themselves. God is a good God, I
will succeed one day," Ramlogan said during a con-
sultation held by the San Fernando City Corporation
to find a solution to the homeless situation in the
southern city on Wednesday.
Saying she had no more tears to shed, she pleaded
with the organisers to find housing for the street
While Ramlogan and other street dwellers spoke
about the suffering they endured at the consultation
at the City Auditorium, business owners spoke about
the nuisance street dwellers create and called on the
police to take action against them.
Wayne Teka, owner of business at Lord Street, San
Fernando, said while he recognises street dwellers
have rights, they must also be responsible.
He said school children often have to interact with
homeless people who are not in the best of health
Appealing to the police to visit his property, he said
there at least ten "beds" at the entrance of his business
and customers are forced to walk over street dwellers.
"I can t open my business on a Monday," Teka said.
Calling for regular patrols to ensure that the street
dwellers are not on people s properties, he said, "It
is not fair for businesspeople to have to leave their
home at night to address street dwellers."
Teka said he has made several reports to the police
about verbal abuse and threats from street dwellers,
and urged police to enforce the mental and public
Another street dweller, Anand Bachu, said he has
been living on the street for the past 18 years. After
smoking cocaine for 13 years he said he kicked the
habit, but he claimed to be an alcoholic.
"The streets are dangerous. You think we want to
sleep on cardboard every day? Help me get off the
San Fernando Business Association president
Daphne Bartlett said she was upset that previous
consultations on the issue had yielded no results.
However, she said the business community will assist
in whatever way they can to address the problem.
She suggested that a building be built to house the
Two Barrackpore families are
today hoping the old saying of
"lightning never strikes the same
spot twice" is a fact.
This after they escaped harm when
lightning struck near their homes
during last week s heavy rains.
While Afraz Abdool, 47, and his
uncle Aziz Mohammed, 61, of St
Croix Extension, Barrackpore, lost
TV sets and electronic appliances
because of the blast from the light-
ning, they said they were grateful to
Allah for their lucky escape.
Abdool, in an interview with the
T&T Guardian on Wednesday at his
Barrackpore home, said he is yet to
replace his TV, but was happy his 70-
year-old mother Karitan, who was at
home when the lightning struck at
3.15pm, was unhurt.
"She was home inside when it hit
the coconut tree. She said it was a
loud bang," he said.
He said he did not know his TV
was not working because when the
lighting bolt struck the village lost
Karitan, who was busily making
sawine in her kitchen at the time,
said, "I just hear something explode
and I run outside and I see fire raising
up from the coconut tree and the
The coconut tree, which is located
at the back of Mohammed s home,
now has no branches or coconuts.
The top was scorched and hollow.
Residents had called the Fire Service
to out the fire.
Mohammed said he was not home
when the lighting struck his coconut
tree, but a friend called him and told
him to come home.
"I get cold when I hear about that.
When I reached I saw the coconut
tree and was smelling this thing burn-
ing," he said.
His wife Sandra, 59, said she was
glad the fire did not spread to the
"We do not have insurance on this
house. We just lucky nothing hap-
pened to it.
"We thank God for life. When we
reported the damage to our things
T&TEC say they cannot do nothing
about it, it was an act of God they
tell us. But when people house burn
down and flood damage it and they
get help, ent that is act of God too?"
Sandra said for the past couple of
days it has been raining in the area
and since the lightning incident they
are fearful it could happen again.
"We are so scared that when rain
start to fall we take off the TV. We
do not know what could happen. This
is the first time this happen, I do not
know if it could happen again," she
homeless and structured programmes be implemented
to help them get back on their feet.
In her feature address, Loraine Reyes-Borel, executive
director at Ministry of the People and Social Devel-
opment, said she had been dealing with street dwellers
for the past 15 years and there was no quick fix to
the problem. She said homeless people have a range
of problems, but locking them away was not the
She said the answers lie in a collaborated and coor-
"It is about offering persons who have a range of
problems a range of solutions."
Trevor Braithwaite, manager of Court Shamrock
Home for the Socially Displaced People in San Fer-
nando., says funding continues to hamper their ability
to help street dwellers and the socially-displaced.
"It all boils down to no funding," Braithwaite told
the symposium, noting that the home still receives
a 1999 subvention.
"We operate with a deficit budget, but they expect
us to perform," he said, adding that they are forced
to raise their own funds.
Braithwaite said the home could accommodate 50
people, but they cannot feed 50 people. He said the
home now has 30 residents and that is a stretch.
He said recently, the Rotary Club began helping
them with funds for a night shelter which can accom-
modate 16 people. He said the plan was to get 16
double deckers, but that did not materialise.
Since the home opened its doors in 1999, he said
over 966 people have passed through the facility and
they have had more successes than failures.
Lightning bolt misses
family's home, razes tree
Barrackpore resident Aziz Mohammed points to his coconut tree, which was
struck by lighting on Wednesday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
Differing views at street dwelling symposium
homeless at odds
Street dweller Vidya Ramlogan make an appeal for help during Wednesday's public consultation at the San
Fernando City Auditorium, Harris Promenade, San Fernando. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL
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