More Venezuelans flock to Irwin Park

More homeless Venezuelans are trickling to Irwin Park facility in Siparia hoping to get free meals, clothing and shelter.

When Guardian Media visited the facility on Monday more than 20 Venezuelans were lounging on cots, and on chairs.

There were enough food and drinks to feed a hundred more people.

Itilda Wharwood from the Siparia Community Association and voluntary translator Jennifer Joan Cowie have been spending their time at the facility ensuring that people do not take advantage of the Venezuelans.

Wharwood said people with "less than honourable intentions" have been coming to the facility hoping to get the women to work.

"We have told the Venezuelans that it is not safe to go with people. We are doing all that we can to make sure that they are ok," she added.

On Saturday, the facility was supposed to be used for a game but instead of putting the foreigners out, they were instead taken out on a tour for the day.

"We took them to Clifton Hill beach, by the Pitchlake and at Debe where they got doubles. It was a really fun day," Wharwood said. 

Using WhatsApp and Google translate, the communication barriers which once existed between Trinidad and Venezuela have been broken and camaraderie has developed.

Translator Cowie said she lived in Venezuela for many years and was eager to assist.

She praised other volunteers Pasky Ramsumair, Pamela Sandy and Yvette Pierre who have been taking turns to supervise the Venezuelans.

One of the locals at the facility said several restaurant owners have been coming to the facility hoping to get the young Venezuelan women to work in their bars.

"These people using women to get customers. They running their establishments like a brothel now and before it wasn't so. Now people are looking to taking advantage of them," he added.

Chairman of the Siparia Regional Corporation Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh commended the people of Siparia for assisting the Venezuelans.

He said they will be accommodated until registration begins on Friday.

More than 60,000 Venezuelans are believed to have fled to Trinidad as the Venezuelan socio-economic crisis intensifies.

A total of 5 million people have left their country because of food and medicine shortages.

- by Radhica De Silva.

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