Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud on Tuesday sought to comfort victims of the recent Sharon’s Mall fire; assuring them that the Ministry wants to help however it can to aid them in getting back on their feet again.
“I can’t promise everything, but whatever and however I can support you, you can count on me. I know this is a tough one,” Minister Persaud told the group that visited her Lamaha and East Streets office.
Last April 28, a massive fire ravaged Sharon’s Mall, affecting several of the businesses housed within. Surrounding businesses and law offices were likewise put out of business at the King Street location.
The four-storey building at King and Charlotte Streets, Georgetown, was brought to ashes resulting in millions of dollars in losses for scores of small businesses that were hardly able to save anything.
The visiting group, made up of predominantly women, was offered counseling and everyone present was able to take home a food hamper.
“You have a very special place in my heart. These hampers are just a temporary measure because I know you’ll need much more than this,” the Minister said.
Minister Persaud reassured the gathering that she understood that what they are going through is not easy, especially as many of them have to provide for their families while being single parents.
“You’ve invested a lot of your time; your finances, etc. and what I want to say is that this is just the first level of help that we’ll be offering. I am glad to be in touch with all of you so that we can help you to manage a little better,” she expressed, adding, “As women going through this, you have a very special place in my heart.”
She called attention to the feelings of uncertainty that she knew they are experiencing and reminded them repeatedly that she is there to help and will be in constant communication with them.
“Some of you have children and businesses so we may be able to help with a few things to get you back on your feet. Everyone’s need is a little different so we will have an officer sit with you in very small groups at a time and see what it is that you need to get back on your feet,” Minister Persaud explained.
She further told the group that in the event her ministry cannot fill a specific need, she will reach out to her colleagues in other ministries to see if they can help. “Let us know specifically what you would need. However we can help you, we are ready to do that; as much as we can.”
“If anyone needs counseling, let us know that too. Just know that you can count on us here. As women, we are out there dealing with all kinds of things and we don’t have a network, so use this opportunity to network and support each other. This is a shared, difficult experience,” she said.
A few of the women expressed gratitude to the Minister and noted that they were happy to benefit from whatever help she was offering.
One woman remarked: “It means a lot to us. Most of us are single women and thank you for being there for us. You are the only one who reached out to us so far and we really appreciate it.”