Church reaches out to help Cuban refugees

A re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tion has ex­tend­ed a help­ing hand to a group of 59 Cubans refugees who are liv­ing in de­plorable and un­san­i­tary con­di­tions on a par­cel of agri­cul­tur­al land in War­renville, Cunu­pia.

Com­ing to the res­cue of the Cubans who are seek­ing refugee sta­tus in T&T was pas­tor Toy Ram­paul of War­renville-based Fam­i­ly Christ Min­istries.

Church mem­bers erect­ed four gal­vanise sheds on the lands be­long­ing to Ca­roni (1975) Ltd on Mon­day which the Cubans have been re­sid­ing on since Feb­ru­ary 1.

At their new lo­ca­tion the Cubans have been us­ing an out­house and one bath­room while man­ag­ing with­out pipe-borne wa­ter and elec­tric­i­ty.

The con­di­tions have been de­scribed as less than ide­al.

For the past four days they have been liv­ing in makeshift tents cov­ered by tar­pau­lins and strips of plas­tics. The group moved there af­ter they over­stayed their time at a near­by ware­house pro­vid­ed by a busi­ness­man.

Their sto­ry was high­light­ed in the Trinidad Guardian on Tues­day.

Three months ago, 87 Cuban na­tion­als were charged with ob­struct­ing a free pas­sage­way and re­moved by po­lice af­ter they camped out­side the UN House, in Port-of-Spain seek­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion's as­si­tance.

Touched by their plight, Ram­paul said she felt com­pelled to help see­ing the cramped con­di­tions in which the Cubans live.

She bought them a stove, pots and plates.

"I al­so went to the hard­ware and pur­chased lum­ber, nails and sheets of gal­vanise which I do­nat­ed to them on Sun­day," Ram­paul said.

She said a mem­ber of the church - a car­pen­ter- of­fered to build four sheds which the Cubans blocked off with tar­pau­lins and plas­tic.

"Every­body chipped in and got the sheds com­plet­ed in un­der 12 hours. It was re­al­ly a team ef­fort," Ram­paul said.

Ram­paul said refugees in T&T should not be ill-treat­ed.

"Lis­ten, I am re­al­ly hurt by these Cubans. They are from a dif­fer­ent coun­try, yes, but they are hu­man be­ings like us," Ram­paul said.

"We are feel­ing hap­pi­er and safer now," said An­dris Gon­za­lez, one of Cubans who spoke for the group.

"We have more pri­va­cy and slept bet­ter last night. I want to thank every­one from the bot­tom of our hearts fo reach­ing out to us in our time of need. There are still good peo­ple in Trinidad," he said.

Fer­oza Mo­hammed who of­fered the Cubans the land said help has been pour­ing in for them.

Among those was do­nat­ed food­stuff, bot­tled wa­ter and clean­ing agents was char­i­ta­ble group Heart of Sai.

Reporter: Shaliza Hassanali