PROMISED HELP: Social Development Minister Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, second right, greets mother of six Meera Balramsingh at her Penal home on Sunday after presenting her with a hamper. Looking on, at her mother's bedside, is four-year-old Kavita Ram. —Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

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Glenn reaches out to the homeless

By Sue-Ann Wayow sue-ann.wayow@trinidadexpress.com

THE main focus for the Ministry of the People and Social Development for the new year will be to assist homeless persons and single parents.

Social Development Minister Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said on Sunday, "For 2013, our focus will be to continue assisting the most vulnerable of the vulnerable...that is, the homeless. Those who don't even have a home to begin with and have to be out in the streets. Then our second role will be to reach out more to single mothers and I am seeing also single fathers. Single parents of large families who are very burdened and challenged and cannot leave the home."

He said even though his Ministry did a lot of work helping persons, with the assistance of non-governmental organisations, there was still a lot more that needed to be done to reduce poverty in the country.

Ramadharsingh was speaking to reporters during a visit to three families in South Trinidad all of whom need assistance with housing. The Minister delivered food hampers to the families and promised to assist.

Ramadharsingh visited a father and son, living in under a makeshift tent in Ste Madeleine.

Alan Maloney and his seven-year-old son Daniel will ring in the new year under the tent. Maloney's home was destroyed by fire on November 30, last year. The two spent Christmas week at the Kapok Hotel in Port of Spain courtesy a Port of Spain businessman and another good samaritan.

Ramadharsingh presented Maloney with a temporary food card and said there was a need for counselling and psycho-social support. He said the National Social Development Programme (NSDP) pledged to assist with $20,000.

Ramadharsingh said he would be asking the support of other ministries to assist with rebuilding Maloney's home. He said the Ministry will try to assist with alternative living accommodations until Maloney's home was rebuilt.

Ramadharsingh then visited a family of nine in Ramai Trace in Debe.

Dale Ram and Meera Balramsingh have six children ranging from seven months to ten years. For four months, Balramsingh, 29, has been unable to walk properly after a car rolled over her, severely damaging her lower body.

She said her pelvic bones were shattered, she had three broken fingers, a dislocated shoulder and shattered ribs.

The family lives downstairs their relatives' home with Balramsingh's father Jagessar Balramsingh who has polio.

The home is at the end of a dirt track surrounding by a lagoon.

Ram who worked at the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation quit his job to take care of his wife and their children.

Although the family has a food card, Ramadharsingh said the value of the card will be reviewed because of the number of children in the home.

Two of the children, Dinesh and Akiel, wished for two remote controlled cars in addition to a new home in the new year. They got no toys for Christmas.

Ramadharsingh also visited a family at St John's Road, Krooner Settlement, South Oropouche where mother of seven, Diane Moore, 40, suffers from Parkinson's disease and cannot help herself. She is cared for by her husband Junior Nicholas and two of their four children.

Ramadharsingh presented Moore with a wheelchair.

All families were grateful for the assistance and said they were looking forward to his promises.

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