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Former homeless receive proof of their identities (with CNC3 video)
Fifteen former homeless people will now be able to receive Government assistance, pursue their education, obtain bank cards, apply for electricity, get connected to the internet or simply buy a mobile phone. They are once again becoming part of society since the Ministry of the People and Social Development, in collaboration with the Ministry of Legal Affairs, presented them with birth certificates. The event took place on Tuesday at the Ministry of the People and Social Development, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain.
During the press conference, the recipients sat quietly while photos were displayed of them before and after their rehabilitation. Some of the men were known for walking the streets in Port-of-Spain begging for food, money or cigarettes. During his address, Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar said 300,000 people did not have a proper birth certificate with their first names and surnames.
Ramadhar said parents sometimes registered their children with a simple nickname and no surname. Many people, he said, were without birth certificates and were unable to apply for a job, a utility service or buy items that required verification of their identities. He added: “The message we are sending to society is that we need to take care of those less fortunate and we never want them to be in those conditions, but give them a sense of belonging.
“It is about your authority in writing and where you were born and that you belong here and you are entitled to a fair opportunity.” Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said the ministry was attempting to deliver hope, security, a sense of belonging and an opportunity for the homeless to get on with the rest of their lives. He said: “These individuals have spent their entire lives with no identity. They have never had any birth certificates in their names.
“Often times we look at the homeless and forget that they are people too, people capable of feeling, people capable of enjoying the same human rights that we all take for granted.” Ramadharsingh said the group was in the early stages of their rehabilitation and would be transferred from the Transformed Life Ministry, Arouca, to another location.
Keith Baird, one of the recipients of a birth certificate, said it would give him the opportunity of having a better life. “I will be able to be on my feet again. I ran into domestic problems and it affected my job. I used to live at the housing complex in Maloney,” he said.
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