Frank Ali started working at age ten in the San Juan market, selling celery from a little cardboard box at two for $1 to help pay for his schooling.
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Former president Arthur NR Robinson was hospitalised at the St Clair Medical Centre up to late yesterday. Sources said Robinson, 86, who had been hospitalised several times in the past few years for high blood pressure, glaucoma as well as heart and prostate complications, was taken to the private hospital by relatives around 9 pm on Thursday.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar visited him at the Elizabeth Street, St Clair, hospital around 2 pm yesterday. When she emerged about 15 minutes later, Persad-Bissessar said she had spoken briefly to Robinson and he seemed fine. “I am very pleased that he acknowledged when I spoke to him. He did not speak, but he nodded his head when I spoke to him,” Persad-Bissessar said. She said the visit was a “touching experience” and described Robinson as a very brave and strong man.
In an interview after the visit, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, who accompanied the prime minister, said Robinson responded well to her presence and seemed very peaceful. Neither Persad-Bissessar nor Khan was willing to comment on the details of Robinson’s condition or the reason for his hospitalisation. But Khan said: “I think Mr Robinson should be ok for the rest of the evening.”
Persad-Bissessar visited Robinson a few hours before she laid the report of the Commission of Enquiry into the 1990 Attempted Coup in Parliament. Robinson testified before the Sir David Simmons-led commission in January 2011. While addressing Parliament Persad-Bissessar said an inscribed copy of the report would be given to Robinson. “It is my hope that the report will bring satisfaction and considerable comfort to former prime minister Robinson,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Robinson, who served as prime minister between 1986 and 1991, was among the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) MP and government ministers held hostage at the Red House during the armed insurrection. He was beaten and shot in the leg during the six-day ordeal. He served as the country’s third president from 1997 to 2003.
Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) president Bro Harrypersad Maharaj also visited Robinson’s hospital bed yesterday and called on citizens to remember him in their prayers. He also appealed to his fellow religious leaders to include Robinson in their religious services on Sunday morning.
“President Robinson has served this nation and the world in general in so many ways and we shall be ever grateful that T&T has produced such distinguished souls. May our prayers and meditations give him strength to recover soon and courage to his family as well,” Maharaj said in a press release sent yesterday afternoon.
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