While spreading Christmas joy among the socially displaced on Christmas Day, Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh called on citizens to take responsibility for their lives.
Speaking at a Christmas "breakfast and lunch" yesterday at the Centre for the Socially Displaced at Riverside Carpark, Port of Spain, Ramadharsingh, who symbolically broke bread with the socially displaced, said a robust attempt is being made to change the lives of street dwellers in this country.
"If we are to be a model state of Trinidad and Tobago, each citizen must take responsibility for their own lives. Own your life and if you own it, it will become such a beautiful thing," he said.
Ramadharsingh said the Ministry was working with the socially displaced in the short term, but the goal was a long-term one.
"We cleared 36 persons off the street this year and with the efforts of the street dwelling unit, I am told yesterday they assisted and interacted with more than 40 persons in Port of Spain. That number takes us to close to 125 persons for the Christmas season.
"There are 1,480 street dwellers in this country, more than 400 in Port of Spain, and while we have attended to more than 30 per cent this Christmas season, there is a lot of work to do."
Ramadharsingh told the people present that among them they possessed the talent, the knowledge and the know-how to partner with the Ministry to make things better.
"I ask you to commit to become big brothers to those who are still out there homeless on the streets. We will do our part and you must do yours too. The goal is not for one-offs and quick fixes but to empower the socially displaced of the country."
Quoting from the People's Partnership manifesto, the Minister said the needs of the poor and disadvantaged were a priority.
He said they have called on the private sector as well as the public sector and thanked all who have helped so far in this issue and at the Centre for the Socially Displaced, which he described as one of this country's best-kept secrets.