NLCB Sponsorship Committee chairman Dwight Andrews presents a cheque a to Living Water Community Assistance director Rosemary Scott at NLCB Office on Duke Street, Port-of-Spain yesterday.

Carisa Lee

The National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) has donated $150,000 to the Living Water Community to assist with hampers for the needy during the COVID crisis.

“I got a call from the Living Water Community expressing to me that they had a food drive and quite a few people did not get through,” said Chairman of the Sponsorship Committee of NLCB Board Dwight Andrews.

According to Andrews, less than an hour after the board decided to donate the money it was transferred to the community’s account.

“People are desperately in need and we have both a moral and corporate responsibility to step up as much as possible,” Andrews said.

Assistant Director of Living Water Community Rosemary Scott said they have seen tremendous support from the private and corporate sectors in this country.

T&T is approaching the fifth week of the Public Health Ordinance that prohibits non-essential businesses from operating and a Stay-at-Home order implemented for workers alike.

The money and food supplies many families started the month of April with have run out and while the Government created relief grants for those affected during the COVID-19 crisis, some are eager for cheques to be processed and have turned to the Living Waters Community for assistance.

The Community through its food bank has been distributing hampers to needy families whose income may have been impacted by the crisis and while the community is no stranger to assisting those in need, this time the drive depends strictly on donations from the public.

“Beautiful generous T&T people as usual really came up and support us through this period in a generous way,” director Rhonda Maingot said.

“Our income has dried up because we don’t have our regular fundraisers and coffee shop,” she continued.

Maingot said for the last four weeks 40 volunteers and some staff prepared approximately 150 -200 hampers to distribute on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays but as the weeks went by demand outweighed the supply. She said hundreds of people were turned back on Wednesday.

“We had hampers prepared for 400 people which we gave out but we another 50 waiting to come in,” the director said.

“It was very painful for us not to be able to supply the needs for those really in want,” she continued.

Maingot said people were in the line from the night before and after she interviewed some who were turned back she released that many were pushed to a situation where they have nothing left.

She said while some were regular faces there were new ones as well.

“A lot of them have lost jobs and on the breadline now,” she said.

“There is a combination of people…pregnant women and the elderly,” she continued.

Maingot said there were over 100 refugees in the line but they were in the line were dealt with separately.

As for the $30 million Government promised churches religious bodies to distribute to the poor and needy in the next three months, Maingot said its the decision of the Archibishop on how that money will be distributed.

This country’s Islamic community decided to give charity to COVID-impacted persons separately. That’s according to President of the Islamic Missionaries Guild Imtiaz Mohammed who said jamaats are contributing individually.

“I know for a fact masjids in Bamboo, Charlieville, Mucurapo, and El Socorro are involved in charity work,” he said.

Mohammed told Guardian Media that especially during the month of Ramadan a lot of Muslims participate in charity at a community level to the poor and needy.

Acting Secretary-General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Vijay Maharaj said this country’s Hindu community has splinter groups. However, he said the SDMS which represents approximately 300,000 Hindus attached to different temples has been donating hampers and cooking meals for those in need.

“Orange Valley temples are doing hampers and meals on a weekend for the community,” he said.

“Out of our 147 temples I can say 80 to 85 are doing charity work,” he continued.

The Acting Secretary-General said he personally prepared hampers for students of the SDMS who depend on the school feeding programme.