Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 15th 2016 Contents A5
Thursday, September 15, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Minister of Health Terrence
Deyalsingh said yesterday his
ministry stands ready and willing
to do all it can to assist 600-
pound Marissa Nelson who is suf-
fering from lymphoedema.
Deyalsingh s email response came
after he read yesterday s T&T
Guardian front page article, head-
lined Helping Hands, where non-
governmental organisations, local
and abroad, as well as the chief of
staff at the Eric Williams Medical
Sciences Complex (EWMSC) offered
to assist Nelson, 32, who has been
confined to her bed for the past four
Yesterday, in response to a text mes-
sage, Social Development and Family
Services Minister Cherrie-Ann
Crichlow-Cockburn also gave a com-
mitment to assist.
"We may be able to assist with her
(Nelson) medication if it is not available
via CDAP," Crichlow-Cockburn said.
Apart from financial assistance,
Crichlow-Cockburn said Nelson "can be
provided with an aide/caregiver and coun-
Told of the intervention by two ministers
yesterday, Nelson said she would embrace
all the help she could get.
"I really need it. I am really and truly
touched. The responses have been over-
whelming. My health is deteriorating. I am
happy that these two ministers have prom-
to do whatever they can.
I hope they would follow up and do all that
is necessary by keeping to their word. I
hope their word is their bond."
Nelson said she did not want a repeat
of the past, where ministers pledged to
help and nothing materialised.
"For years I have been crying out for
medical attention and other assistance. I
just don t want to be forgotten again," she
On Tuesday, Nelson s story was high-
lighted in the newspaper, where she called
on the Government to intervene and provide
specialist medical care, urgent medication
and a 24-hour caregiver.
Although Nelson receives a $1,800
monthly disability grant and is a recipient
of a $410 monthly food card, she said the
money was not enough to buy her pampers,
bedliners, antiseptic soaps, 25 packs of
baby wipes, bandages and gauze, which
total about $5,000 monthly.
Nelson lives alone and depends on the
generosity of her neighbours and her 68-
year-old mother, Sylvia, who is an
amputee for assistance to do the simplest
Within hours of going public with her
plight, people from as far as the United
States offered to help Nelson, of Johnson
Among those were DEHIX, an inter-
national charitable body, EWMSC,
CEO of Pillars of Harmony and mem-
bers of the public.
Touched by the outpouring of sup-
port, Nelson thanked the T&T Guardian
on Tuesday for publishing her story.
The story was also aired on sister station
CNC3 and reached over 295,000 readers
on Facebook and was shared 1,169 times
by 4.30 pm.
Having read the two articles, Deyalsingh
said he had asked the health care system
to respond to Nelson s condition and both
Dr Andy Bhagwandass, Chief of Staff at
the EWMSC and the Head of the Emer-
gency Department at the Arima District
Hospital, Dr Helmer Hilwig, have responded, detail-
ing how they can help.
"We stand ready and willing to do all we can to
assist this patient." Deyalsingh said.
He said he was "proud of the response and my
best wishes go out to Ms Marissa Nelson, as only
she knows what she is going through. I am also
proud of the response of the country at large. We
are a wonderful compassionate people."
Nicole Olivierre Minister of
Energy and La Brea MP, speaks
to residents of La Brea on Coffee
Beach during her visit on
Tuesday. PHOTO:TONY HOWELL
Ministers moved by Marissa's story
Calls were being made yesterday
for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
to fire his Energy Minister Nicole
Olivierre after a video of her losing
her cool with protesting con-
stituents of La Brea went viral on
social media. However, others have
applauded her decision to stand
By late evening, the video was
viewed over 62,000 times.
Olivierre last night defended her
action and the Prime Minister s right
to chose his team.
"I did not lose my cool. I think
you sometimes need to speak to
people in a language they would
understand because this protest
action has been really becoming
out of hand."
During an interview marking his
administration s anniversary in
office, Rowley said that he intended
to make adjustments to his Cabi-
Asked if this public outburst could
influence the PM s decision as he
contemplates his Cabinet reshuffle,
Olivierre said: "Whatever his deci-
sion, I would not even try to hazard
a guess as to what he would or
would not do. He is sure to chose
his team as he sees fit."
It was on Tuesday, following a
visit to oil-stained Coffee Beach, La
Brea, in the constituency she serves
as Member of Parliament, that the
confrontation between her and
protesting constituents, some with
placards outside her office, was
recorded on a cellphone and posted
In a loud voice, Olivierre could
be heard telling her constituents
how unreasonable they were being
approaching her to seek compen-
sation on their behalf for loss of
"This is never done anywhere
else. This is madness," she said.
One woman took issue with her
tone, saying: "Ministers don t talk
to people like that."
She was also criticised by some
of the constituents in the video, a
lot of which is inaudible, for poor
representation, while others resorted
to calling her names, like "warahoo
Olivierre stood her ground, saying
she has stood up for them and made
representation to have this long-
standing problem of having poor
In an interview yesterday, Olivierre
said the people who were making
the case for compensation were the
same people who protested for
improved roads one year ago and
the same people who stopped the
multi-million project on Monday
because reduced traffic had resulted
in a loss of their sales.
"While we empathise with the
residents as the constituency has
been neglected for so long and there
is a high level of unemployment in
the area, this unnecessary disruption
to the Government s efforts at
resolving a long-standing issue can-
not be tolerated," Olivierre said.
"That is incredible. You complain
about the road being in a deplorable
condition and now that it is being
repaired, I can t comprehend why
you would even contemplate seeking
compensation for the loss of sales
when we are doing the infrastruc-
tural work to improve the conditions
under which you sell. And why delay
the progress on the road any fur-
ther?" she asked.
She drew the analogy: "it is like
fixing your own home and want
somebody else to compensate your
for the inconvenience."
Asked if she had any plans to
meet again with the residents,
Olivierre said all of their other issues
had already been addressed.
"The remaining issue was com-
pensation, which is not under con-
sideration," she added.
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