San Fernando Mayor and CEO of Caribbean Airlines Skiffle Steel Orchestra Junia Regrello initiated a humanitarian effort to assist members of Southern Marines Steel Orchestra with food hampers. This has come about in the band’s time of need since the crisis of the worldwide pandemic COVID-19 has left many families without.
In an effort to bring some relief to fellow pan members, Regrello donated the hampers to seven families who were identified and who are in dire need of assistance.
State-owned Petrotrin subsidised the steelband for many years prior to the complete closure of the refinery in 2018, setting the orchestra back on some hard times.
On May 14, Regrello responsed to the call of the son of former Southern Marines leader Michael “Scobie” Joseph to assist members in need of help since the virus entered T&T shores and did not permit members to go out and work.
Joseph’s son, Malomo Joseph, said. “The mayor visited us during the Carnival season and observed our band. We have old and young persons, even visually impaired persons and, within the COVID-19 period, I was contacted by Pan Trinbago to find out if there were any needy people within our band. We have a lot of members who have been unemployed since the pandemic; so, we are glad to accept the hampers.”
Regrello said he remembered when he visited the Marines yard in Marabella during the 2020 Carnival season. He noticed the band played without uniforms and that the steelband has continued to be unsponsored after primary sponsor, Petrotrin, became defunct.
Regrello said he dipped into his own private funds to bring the relief to the fellow pan enthusiasts.
“This is from the mayor and not funds from the state or from the government grant,” said Regrello.
“I attended the Panorama preliminary judging night at Southern Marines panyard this year and noticed that the band needed assistance. The assistance the band received from Petrotrin no longer existed. I saw a need for help and spoke to the management of the band and they identified with the issues and challenges they were having. So, based on the nature of the community and their surroundings, with persons who are involved, to keep the art form alive there will be a need for assistance at this time.
“As a pan man, I am committed to the development of the art form and those involved and to contribute to this development. It is my responsibility to give back and Malomo identified seven families to date who needed the help. They will let me know of any more as the need arises.”
Malomo said there are people who served a 15-year membership with Southern Marines and have felt the effects of COVID-19 since the lockdown of the non-essential working class.
He said many struggled to survive and had to quit their day-to-day “hustle” by having to stay at home.
He added that his father, Scobie, was the third generation of the family to pilot Southern Marines before he died on March 24 this year. He said with the existing committee plans to continue along the same vein as his father.
Caribbean Airlines Skiffle also distributed food hampers to members of Hatters Steel Orchestra.