Giselle Chance

‘HAPPY TO HELP’: Vision on Mission chief executive

Giselle Chance

TWENTY people have been deported from the United States and are back in Trinidad.

The deportees — 18 men and two women — have been placed in quarantine in keeping with Covid-19 regulations.

Speaking during yesterday’s virtual media briefing, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the 18 male deportees were being quarantined at the Vision on Mission (VOM) facility in Claxton Bay.

The two women will complete their quarantine period at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Debe campus.

The deportees were swabbed for Covid-19 testing yesterday and Deyalsingh said the Ministry was “hoping and praying for the best”.

Vision on Mission (VOM) chief executive Giselle Chance told the Sunday Express the deportees arrived on Thursday.

She could not give details about them but said some were elderly people.

She said she was pleased the organisation could play a role in battling the pandemic.

VOM was approached by the Ministry of National Security to use the Claxton Bay facility which was originally earmarked for housing the organisation’s women clients.

“Currently we only provide transitional facilities for men coming out of prison and the Claxton Bay facility has been earmarked for women — female ex-inmates as well as female deportees and socially displaced women at risk,” Chance noted. “However because of the Covid-19 situation, the State had some challenges in sourcing enough facilities to house persons as they bring nationals back into the country and one category of nationals are deportees.

“So because it is in alignment with what we do anyway, we provide a fleet of services for deportees, they reached out to us to see how we could partner with them. So it is a joint effort between the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Health and CEPEP.”

Chance said CEPEP ensured the facility was prepared adequately and on time as VOM had received short notice of the deportees’ arrival.

With regard to funding, she said no additional funds were needed to prepare the facility.

“Vision on Mission gets an annual subvention from the Government. That was already in place and that facility was already budgeted to be operationalised as a part of our current subvention plan. So there was no need for additional funding from the Government.”

She added that VOM staff will not be allowed at the facility during the period of quarantine and the Ministry of Health is responsible for managing the quarantine process.

Once the quarantine period is over, the deportees will have access to the services offered by VOM.

If they are in need of housing, they will be accommodated at the organisation’s Wallerfield facility.

That facility has a capacity for 100 people but due to Covid-19 restrictions, Chance said it will only be used to house up to 70 people at a time.

There are currently 30 men living there.

She assured there was room to house all 18 men now at the Claxton Bay facility but said it was unlikely they will all need additional housing as some will got to their families after quarantine.

“We don’t anticipate all of them will come to our programme. But if they have to come to our programme, we have the capacity to house them at Wallerfield. But some of them have already been in contact with their family members and some will be moving on.”

She said VOM will still offer assistance to those who do not require accommodation as deportees usually require help in getting identification documents, jobs, counselling and other services. “We are very happy to support the Government at this time and to support the deportees who have come to our facility so we could facilitate a smooth transition into our after-care facility at Wallerfield.”

Chance said the Government must be commended for its efforts in protecting the country amid the pandemic.

“I am very glad to see that the various stakeholders have come together...the various Ministries and NGOs...nothing is perfect, these are uncharted times and it is a learning process. Once we remain open to learning we will continue on the positive trajectory that we have been on so far.”

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