Up to $30k available for needy indigenous patients to return home - Allicock
Systems are in place to assist indigenous people who would have been flown to the city for medical attention and require some financial assistance to return to their homes after recovery or to repatriate a corpse in the event of death, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock says.
As long as the cases are processed through the Welfare Division of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, up to $30,000 can be provided as a grant, he told Stabroek News. In certain circumstances, he said, the ministry would seek further assistance if more funds are needed.
Allicock was asked about the assistance available to impoverished indigenous peoples in light of the death of Aubrey Augustus Thomas of Black Water Village, Region One (Barima/Waini), whose family was forced to scamper for assistance after he died at the Georgetown Public Hospital in December. The relatives did not have the funding to take Thomas’ body back to the Region One community.
They had travelled to the city after cutting manicole cabbage and selling it to raise funds for the trip and never expected Thomas to die when he did. They had initially sought the assistance of the ministry but had been told that all business for the year had been closed off on December 15 and they could get no help. They were told to seek help from the ministry’s Welfare Division but there they were told that if they could get no help from the ministry’s head office, they could not help them.
Allicock said it was unfortunate that no senior official of the ministry was contacted to deal with the issue and he will have to investigate what occurred.
“I would have to follow up and see how this issue was dealt with. It could have happened to anyone. There is (a) mechanism in place to deal with such issues. They did not reach the right people at the right time,” he said.
After trying to raise funds from within their community and not getting what they needed to transport the body on the North West ferry to Kumaka, Mabaruma, in desperation, Thomas’ relatives went to Freedom House, headquarters of the opposition PPP to seek assistance.
The PPP provided them with the funding to take the body back to Region One and a PPP/C MP contacted an official of the ministry who committed to meet the expenses incurred by the funeral home in preserving the body for transport.