Closer Collaboration – Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Senator Donna Cox meets with members of the Advocates of the Blind and Vision Impaired (ABAVI) at the Ministry’s Head Office on Monday 16 November 2020. (Image courtesy Ministry of Social Development and Family Services)

Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Senator Donna Cox, has pledged to ensure no one in the visually impaired community will be left behind.

She also has recommitted to meeting and engaging with other NGO’s and Civil Society Organizations in the coming weeks, as part of efforts to obtain their support for a multi-faceted and responsive social service delivery system.

Minister Cox’s promise comes following a meeting with the Advocates of the Blind and Vision Impaired (ABAVI), at the Ministry’s CL Financial Head Office on Monday 16th November 2020, during which the group raised concerns in relation to their coexistence with the Trinidad and Tobago Blind Welfare Association (TTBWA).

Minister Cox, joined by the Ministry’s Executives, meet with Advocates of the Blind and Vision Impaired (ABAVI) to discuss some of their concerns. (Image courtesy Ministry of Social Development and Family Services)

An official release from the Ministry reports that in the meeting with the Minister and key ministry officials—namely, Permanent Secretary Sheila Seecharan, Chief Technical Officer Michael Reid, Senior Legal Officer Sheldon Cyrus, and Advisor to the Minister Miriam Jacobs—the ABAVI representatives expressed dissatisfaction with some of the administrative and financial activities of the TTBWA.

The ABAVI team (which included Valerie Toussaint-Antoine, Patrick Romano and Jennifer Daulat-Araujo) indicated to Minister Cox and her team that some of those activities were not in conjunction or in keeping with the Association’s constitution.

In response, the Minister reportedly assured the Advocates that she will have a meeting with the Blind Welfare Association, to bring about a speedy resolution.

Minister Cox observed that the Ministry’s mandate is “to ensure that no group, individual or family is left behind”, and said they will address thoroughly the issues raised by ABAVI.

Minister Cox, joined by Permanent Secretary Sheila Seecharan, in a photo-op with members of the Advocates of the Blind and Vision Impaired (ABAVI), following the meeting at the Ministry’s Head Office on Monday 16 November 2020. (Image courtesy Ministry of Social Development and Family Services)

About ABAVI

Incorporated on 30th September 2016, and officially launched on 3rd December of the same year, the Advocates of the Blind and Vision Impaired (ABAVI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the well-being of persons who are blind and visually impaired. The organization promotes blindness awareness among members of society. ABAVI also seeks ways to include persons belonging to this community into every aspect of society.

The organization also hosts key events such as “Blind People Can Cook Too” as well as an Annual Calypso Competition, which is a cultural performance show with songs and music written and performed by blind and vision impaired persons.