Up to $30k avail­able for needy indige­nous pa­tients to re­turn home - Al­lic­ock

Stabroek News Sunday - - LETTERS -

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.

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