By Lara Pickford-Gordon, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) is refuting allegations made about the treatment of children at the Cyril Ross Nursery, Tunapuna.
SVP National President Rudolph Boneo, in an interview with the Catholic News last Wednesday said if the children were not being fed properly this would impact their viral load. Some HIV medication has to be taken with food. “HIV is something [where] you have to eat well. We have not lost a child there in years,” Boneo said.
The SVP President was quoted in an Express article dated January 29. Boneo did admit that he responded in anger when the reporter contacted him again about the issues which were raised in that paper last November.
He criticised the lack of balanced reporting saying that in the first article by that paper more of the “sensational things” were carried, and his own responses omitted. He also referred to articles carried in another newspaper which did not contact the SVP for comment.
Boneo said personnel of the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (CATT) visit the nursery. He added the SVP has taken the position that any evidence of wrongdoing should be taken to the police or CATT.
Responding to the allegation that children were being “put out” of the nursery, Boneo said most of the residents who reach 18 years, the legal age of adulthood, have transitioned out.
He said, “If you are past 18 and you are there, we will try to see how best we can fashion an existence outside of the nursery for you.” Boneo explained that some residents have moved in with family members, worked and accumulated money to go off and live on their own or share rent with other residents. There are currently a few residents at the nursery who are over 18 years.
Children attending school are given money for transport. “We try to run the place as you run a home and you have to be tight with children and money. It is not that they lack anything. They are getting their food; people come and take them out,” Boneo said. The SVP President stressed that there are former residents allowed into the facility and others who are barred because of “behaviour”.
A three-person committee, headed by retired justice Annestine Sealey was appointed by the Archdiocese to look into the allegations made about the Home. “The Committee has been working diligently since December, some of the work involves careful collection of information and dealing with children. The work is onerous, proceeding slowly,” Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju said last Wednesday. A report will be submitted to Archbishop Jason Gordon when the investigation is completed.