PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the People’s Partnership (PP) Government has been and continues to look after the welfare of this country’s children. In her message to commemorate Universal Children’s Day today, the Prime Minister cited the Children’s Life Fund and construction of the Children’s Hospital in Couva as examples of Government’s ongoing commitment to children.
Persad-Bissessar and her husband Dr Gregory Bissessar have one son, Kris, who has two children — Kristiano and Sophie. Saying her administration is uncompromising in its quest to provide requisite care and protection for all children, Persad-Bissessar added, “To date, a total of 86 children have benefitted from the Children’s Life Fund at a cost of $23.3 million.”
Through this fund, children who are in need of overseas specialist medical treatment for any life-threatening illness, and, who meet the established criteria, will be given the chance at life.
The fund was created in 2010, shortly after the PP assumed office. The Prime Minister and all government parliamentarians contribute a portion of their monthly salaries to the fund. She also indicated that “work on the Children’s Hospital in Couva has started and we expect to complete construction in March 2015.” The hospital is being built as part of a government-to-government arrangement between Trinidad and Tobago and China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited TT in May. Persad-Bissessar was supposed to visit China this month, but that visit has been postponed until next year. The Prime Minister said, “Additionally, more schools are being built and/or refurbished to assist in the quality education of our children and to provide a safe learning environment for them.” Agreeing with former South African president Nelson Mandela that “children are our greatest treasure, they are our future,” Persad-Bissessar observed, “It is startling and heart-wrenching to know that currently there are about 153 million children between the ages of five and 14 who are forced into child labour.”
She urged the international community to stop child labour. “It is unconscionable that the world’s most vulnerable and innocent citizens can be subjected to these inhumane acts.” “We must put an end to these evils perpetrated on our children and do our part in making this world a place where children are truly welcomed, loved, and protected; a place in which they can thrive and realise their fullest potential in an environment conducive to creativity, security, and well-being,” Persad-Bissessar declared.