Tobagonians have a change of heart

Church­es, sec­u­lar or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing youth groups and schools ex­tend­ed a help­ing hand to Venezuela mi­grants, who left Trinidad to reg­is­ter at the To­ba­go cen­tre.

They pro­vid­ed blan­kets, wa­ter, break­fast, lunch and snacks, as the mi­grants braved the hot sun, wait­ing in line days be­fore reg­is­tra­tion was due to end on June 14.

From Sun­day af­ter­noon, hun­dreds of mi­grants be­gan pour­ing in­to To­ba­go by plane and fer­ry, flee­ing long lines at the two oth­er cen­tres in Trinidad.

Some reg­is­tered and re­turned to Trinidad, but oth­ers re­mained as their num­bers had not called as yet or they need­ed ad­di­tion­al in­for­ma­tion to com­plete their reg­is­tra­tion.

Af­ter see­ing the mi­grants' plight, the Sev­enth Day Ad­ven­tist Church was the first or­gan­i­sa­tion to of­fer as­sis­tance.

The church of­fered their Scar­bor­ough Har­mon school com­pound as a base for show­er­ing and sleep­ing at nights.

Dur­ing the day the church gave the Venezue­lans three meals per day.

Di­a­mond An­drews, of the Ad­ven­tist Ser­vice and In­dus­tries To­ba­go Chap­ter, told Guardian Me­dia the church helps those in need.

"We have done sev­er­al out­reach hu­man­i­tar­i­an pro­grammes over the years and will con­tin­ue do­ing so af­ter this has end­ed," he said.

Pas­tor Ter­rance Baynes of the New Her­itage Chris­t­ian Fel­low­ship shared sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments.

Baynes said his church has helped the mi­grants and will con­tin­ue do­ing so un­til the sit­u­a­tion has end­ed.

"In this coun­try, we have no ref­er­ence point for this as we have nev­er seen this kind of cri­sis be­fore. What we are do­ing is out of love for mankind", he said.

His church, with as­sis­tance from Lisa Hospedales- a To­bag­on­ian mar­ried to a Venezue­lan - has housed and fed more than 16 mi­grants, at the church's Stumpy By­pass Road, Canaan com­pound for many nights.

In ad­di­tion to the church, busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tions be­gan to help.

Di­ane Hadad, Chair­man of the To­ba­go Chap­ter of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Cham­ber of In­dus­try and Com­merce said the or­gan­i­sa­tion had been help­ing qui­et­ly.

"Our po­si­tion is that they are hu­man be­ings in need and that as a coun­try filled with hu­man be­ings ... we should be there for each oth­er", said Hadad.

"We have done our own lit­tle thing in the night, but we pre­fer not to speak about it...if you are do­ing some­thing from the good­ness of your heart, you are not sup­posed to put it out there on the radar," she added.