Monday, February 19, 2018

‘He was passionate about eradicating poverty’


GREAT LOSS: Daphne Bartlett

Mark Fraser

Arthur NR Robinson, the only citizen to be president and prime minister, had a passion for poverty eradication and spent up to his last days working towards achieving that for the nation.

This according to Daphne Bartlett, head of the San Fernando Business Association, who said Robinson’s death was a great loss to Trinidad and Tobago.

She said in 2001, when domestic violence was prevalent, the association organised a week of prayer to which Robinson was invited. Since then, the San Fernando Business Association Arthur NR Robinson Poverty Eradication Fund was established.

Bartlett said, “He (Robinson) was so moved that businesspeople would be so concerned about the country that he gave us a cheque initially for about $2,500 to start the fund and then subsequent to that some of his friends had raised funds by selling a book. The proceeds of that went to the fund. I mentioned to him that I cannot eradicate poverty. He said you don’t have to eradicate poverty. You have to stimulate the eradication of poverty and that is what we have been doing.”

She said: “He did not want to hear the words poverty reduction. He said we must try to eradicate poverty. He made an attempt even in his sick old age to try to eradicate poverty in the country.”

Bartlett said there were few persons she met who demonstrated integrity and Robinson was one of those.

“When you discuss things with him, he is not flippant in what he says. Everything is measured. It comes across with a sense of sincerity and purpose in what he says. And his concern for Trinidad and Tobago have always been there,” she said.

She said he will be mostly remembered for his service to country and his famous words during the 1990 attempted coup “ Attack with full force.”

“How many leaders in today’s society and today’s world can stand up for us like that?” she asked.