Basseterre, St. Kitts — With the new school year starting Monday September 7th, scores of children from East Basseterre will be reporting to school proudly equipped with new school supplies thanks the to the bounteousness of their area parliamentary representative, the Hon Ian Patches Liburd.
Parents, mostly mothers and a sprinkling of fathers, and school children had since 10 a.m. Saturday (September 5th) been making a beeline to Hon Liburd’s Constituency office where members of the Ian Patches Liburd Social Assistance and Youth Development Fund Committee, and volunteers helped in distributing the school supplies.
“Tomorrow morning (Saturday) we are going to distribute some school supplies for the needy children in East Basseterre, that are going to school come Monday,” said the Hon Liburd in an interview on Friday September 4th.
“We hear quite a lot about economic growth and sometimes you ask yourself what data are they looking at, because when you look at the reality on the ground people is hurting, and that is the reason why I established the Ian Patches Liburd Social Assistance and Youth Development Fund.”
Mr. Liburd, who is the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Posts, Urban Development and Transport, did not participate in the activity, as he had travelled Friday afternoon to Jamaica in the company of the Prime Minister the Hon Dr Timothy Harris to attend a PetroCaribe Summit. He is the Minister with responsibility for PetroCaribe.
“We did this last year when I was outside of government and we are going to continue this year and continue for the rest of my time as a representative of the constituency,” said Minister Liburd. “So, I am humbled to be able to give back to the constituency that gave me the leadership position in the constituency.”
The Fund was established using 50% of his salary, which is deducted each month. There is a standing order in the bank which his salary goes and the half goes directly to the Fund. He pointed out that he has absolutely nothing to do with the Fund as it relates to its administration.
It is run by a five-person committee, with Mr Ernest Pistana, former General Manager of the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank, as it’s Chairman. The other members are Ms Cleopatra Lake, Mr Chris ‘Moonlight’ Roberts, Mr Randy ‘Africa’ James, and Ms Lisa Lewis.
According to Hon Liburd, they meet and they interview people and they overlook the disbursement of anything from the Fund.
Speaking at the Constituency office on Saturday, committee member Mr Chris Roberts said that people the constituency are taking it well, adding that it was a good help for the parents because school stuff is not cheap anymore.
“We have been going around in the Constituency and looking and talking to the parents, that is how we get the names attached to some of the school supplies,” said Mr Roberts. “All they needed was to come and collect their supplies and we are also accommodating the walk-in ones too.”
Mr Roberts explained that the Fund is more than school supplies, as it assists persons needing medical assistance especially the elderly, and on every third Sunday in the month they distribute 40 lunches to older people in the community.
“I feel this is a good idea that is the brain child of our area parliamentary representative, Patches,” said a mother Ms Vanessa Weekes who had come to collect supplies for her son who will be joining grade one at Tucker Clarke Primary School. “I am extremely happy that he kept his promise.”
Another member of the Ian Patches Liburd Social Assistance and Youth Development Fund, Ms Lisa Lewis, said that apart from book supplies the children were given vouchers for boys to take to a barber to have their hair cut and for girls to take to a hair salon to have their hair braided.
“Last year what we tried to do was do haircutting and braiding here on site, but because this is the busiest time for barbers, it was a difficult arrangement, so we were not able to offer that service,” explained Ms Lewis. “So this year we decided to offer vouchers where kids go to the barbers and hair salons who have agreed to be part of our programme, and once the vouchers are presented by the children, we will redeem them.”