Accusing the Government of being discriminatory in the disbursement of funds to Muslim groups, president of the ASH-NAD Foundation Ashmead Ali yesterday called for equity.
Ali, who has distributed over 5,000 hampers to Venezuelan migrants and locals mainly from zakaat (charity) contributions, said he had noticed that some religious organisations were getting preference over others.
Speaking to Guardian Media at a hamper distribution drive held at the Hermitage Mosque in San Fernando, Ali said, “We were fortunate to receive assistance from fellow Muslim brothers. Apart from getting goods and sponsors, assistance from financial institutions and the Government has been very poor.”
He added, “I see discrimination in the way funds are being allocated. I believe that funds should be shared around more. We are doing a lot for South people. We have done a huge amount of work. We have provided books, scholarships and done infrastructural improvements to schools. Our housing project is ongoing. We have rebuilt houses for some people,” he said.All of this is done without any support from the Government.
He also said that he organised 1,000 gift bags for children now that they are all at home.Ali said the Ash-Nad foundation was a registered NGO and he wanted his group to get assistance from financial institutions and the government.
So far, the foundation has distributed over 5,000 hampers. Unlike previous hamper distributions, over 18 food items were given buffet-style to hundreds of registered and unregistered migrants as well as locals.
People came as far as north Trinidad to collect. The distribution started before dawn and after a prayer session, people were invited to line up under tents where they went from table to table collecting their food items.
Officials from the ASJA Girls’ College as well as Naparima Association of Parents School and Community (NAPSAC) assisted. Ali said circulars were sent out last week asking people to register.
Venezuelan migrant Katiusa Aceituno expressed thanks to the Foundation. She said since March she has been out of work and it’s been difficult to get money to buy food and pay rent.She said if it wasn’t for the hampers given by the Ash-Nad foundation and the La Romaine Migrant Support group, her daily would have starved.
Another resident from Fyzabad said she heard about the hamper distribution from the principal of her grandson’s school.
She also expressed thanks for the items.