Self Help Grant Distribution
The Honourable Shamfa Cudjoe
Minister of Sport and Community Development and Member of Parliament for Tobago West
o The Honourable Marvin Gonzales, Minister of Public Utilities and Member of Parliament for Lopinot/Bon Air West
o Mr. Kwesi Robinson, Chairman of the Tunapuna Regional Corporation
o Mr. Anthony Campbell, Chairman of the National Commission for Self Help Limited and other members of the Board
o Mr. Elroy Julien, Chief Executive Officer of the National Commission for Self Help and other staff members of the commission
o Grant recipients
o Specially Invited Guests
o Members of the Media
o Ladies and gentlemen
For many of us, rainy days mean showers of blessings, plants are quenched, the green of the mountains is richer and our reservoirs are replenished. For most it is a delightful experience. However, for many less fortunate families it is not. I remembered as a child growing up in my parents’ home when the little rains came you know exactly which corner you had to grab a bucket or grab a pail because we knew what we were expecting and I know that you may call upon the MP any time the rain fall. MP you see the rain set up that mean the water going to come into the room. Every single time expecting some form of help and assistance. Yesterday, I saw a Self Help team in Tobago in delivering much needed assistance for families who dread the rain and they do not look forward to the rain. Similarly, 23 families in this community, inclement weather on September 19, 2020, was a terrible experience. Theirs was story of destruction and despair at the hands of mother nature.
It was heart wrenching to see as some residents of this community stood helplessly as their homes, furniture and cars were ravaged by flood waters caused by heavy torrential rain. The losses were unexpected and for many incomprehensible more so at a time when our homes are supposed to be our refuge and safe spaces. I know that your MP has already responded and some relief and clean-up efforts have already begun. But I wish to assure you that after the rain comes sunshine with rays of hope and opportunities for rejuvenation. As such, my job here today is simple. One, to remind you that despite the damage, there was no loss of life and for that we are eternally grateful and two, to tell you that your wait for urgent aid and relief ends today.
I know that it is often difficult in the midst of such tremendous anguish to speak of gratitude. But there is much for which we should be grateful, not the least of all is your own lives, for we have seen yet again the unpredictability of this time. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, and no one is immune or exempt.
During the last fiscal year, the Self Help Commission would have provided assistance to over one thousand families in the tune of almost eighteen million dollars. Even in financially difficult times and with the added pressure of the global pandemic, the Government understands the importance of investments like these to alleviate undue strain and improve the quality of life for our people and our communities.
The aim of Self Help Grant is to assist as many individuals as possible, it is therefore important that when individuals receive a grant that they use it for its intended purpose and not squander it. It is not for luxury goods and having a good time. It is to help put you and your family in a better, safer and more comfortable state at home. When it is abused two things happen, the same people come back requesting assistance from the government for the same issue again resulting in wasted time and resources and it denies others the opportunity to obtain better living conditions. Therefore, I hope that you, the recipients here today, be steered by good conscience in ensuring that the grant serves its intended purpose.
Today’s grant distribution speaks to this Government’s promise and intent to help those who are in need. I am not sure if one can feel humility and pride at the same time, such juxtaposed emotions can be very conflicting. But while it is indeed humbling to be apart of this initiative intended to bring some measure of relief and support to the citizens of Lopinot/Bon Air West, as the Community Development Minister, I very proud of the resilience and comradery that I witnessed in the clean-up efforts in the aftermath of the floods. Community is about people coming together for a common purpose, belief, goal; the residents of this community have and continue to live in that ideal.
When you provide support to restoring and building communities after a devastating experience, we help to restore a sense of normalcy and peace of mind for residents. I would therefore like to acknowledge and thank the staff of the National Commission for Self-Help for quickly jumping into action, mobilizing resources and processing these grants to assist those who have suffered losses. I must express my gratitude to the Chairman, the Board Members, the CEO and the staff of the National Commission for Self Help for your outstanding work that they continue to do. It is with great appreciation we say thank you for responding and rallying to help these families in a matter of two weeks.
I must also say a special thank you to your Member of Parliament and my colleague for rallying the troops and working diligently to ensure that you the residents got the much-needed help. I sincerely hope that this assistance will bring much needed relief to the 23 families affected so that you can move on and resume your daily lives as soon as possible.
I thank you. May God Bless You.