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I worked with street children, at-risk women, says Marlene

By Richard Charan

Marlene Coudray believes her work with street children and at-risk women in San Fernando has prepared her well to take on the job of minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development.

Coudray also said until she takes the oath, she remains the Mayor of San Fernando.

Coudray spoke with reporters last Friday night at her home in Ste Madeleine, shortly after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced a Cabinet reshuffle at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's.

Coudray said she expected the position because Persad-Bissessar had consulted with her on it.

However, she said the appointment was "bitter-sweet", given the murder in Jamaica of her daughter Michelle Coudray-Greaves, whose funeral was held in San Fernando yesterday.

Coudray disclosed she was in the final stages of adopting an eight-year-old child from a home in San Fernando.

"As I was telling someone this week, I lost one daughter but I already have gained one. Children are my life. I feel very passionately about children, and I feel this country can do a lot more for children."

Coudray said as mayor, she began a project where a building was identified and funding requested to refurbish the structure to house single mothers and street children.

She said she hoped several projects she started in the city will be continued by the incoming mayor.

Coudray, who replaces fired minister Verna St Rose Greaves, was asked her position on gay marriage.

She said: "I don't want to judge. All those issues are people issues, and no minister could decide and say what their own feelings are. But there must be a mechanism for the people to decide what this country wants."

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