By Kaelanne Jordan
The St Joseph Parish Ministry to Migrants and Refugees (PMMR) is seeking baby supplies for three pregnant migrant women who will give birth soon.
Co-ordinator of the St Joseph PMMR Charmaine Andrews told Catholic News that mothers from Venezuela and Cuba—including one with a newborn—require basic items including clothes, furniture (cribs), and pampers.
Andrews shared that at present, the expectant mothers receive pre-natal care at the Mt Hope hospital and will give birth at the facility.
When questioned if the women came to Trinidad pregnant, Andrew replied: “It seems as if they got pregnant when they got here. They were in relationships and when they got pregnant, the men abandoned them,” she said via phone.
She added that the refugees are very “vulnerable” and some, especially women were subjected to “harsh treatment” and got a “bad name”.
Andrews believed Catholics and Christians are called to be loving, helpful and non-judgemental.
Echoing similar sentiments, Parish Priest Fr Matthew d’Hereaux said there has been openness, understanding, compassion and support exhibited by parishioners of St Joseph RC towards migrants and refugees.
He called on citizens to become “whistle-blowers” against labour and sexual exploitation of migrants.
Fr d’Hereaux gave the example of one Cuban refugee who was initially employed locally earning TT$100 per day. According to the refugee, his employer, based on an internet article which reported that Cubans live on US$2 per day, “gradually” reduced his salary.
Fr d’Hereaux observed: “Exploitation, greed, get-rich-quick syndrome on the backs of the human being.” He asked citizens, if they have an opportunity to interface or employ migrants, to treat them with respect, compassion and the dignity they deserve as human beings.
Launched in September 2018, the St Joseph PMMR has been receiving donations from members of the St Joseph RC Parish. “Our St Joseph parishioners are very generous,” she said.
The Ministry has also received vouchers from Living Water Community (LWC).
Donations in the form of groceries are given to the “most vulnerable” migrants: families with children. Andrews stressed that preference is given to migrants in the St Joseph community, then other community areas.
Ministry member Ruth Albornoz has the responsibility of getting in touch with migrants, evaluating their needs and giving to the most vulnerable. Thus far, supplies have been distributed to families in Curepe, El Dorado, St Joseph and Arima.
Andrews said the Ministry has had three food drives, two in October 2018 and one last January and has launched ESL classes (English as Second Language) to teach migrants English. The launch took place Sunday, February 17 and classes will be held every Sunday for 10 weeks.
The classes are facilitated by members of the group and they have already recruited tutors from the parish to teach voluntarily. ESL coordinators are Albornoz and Mariette Cooper.
Persons interested in making donations to the St Joseph Parish Ministry to Migrants and Refugees (PMMR) can call Charmaine Andrews at 764-5955 or drop off supplies at the St Joseph parish.