11 February 2009
IVD 2008 at 'Serenity Place, Port Fortin, Trinidad: (standing from left to right) Dr. Geeta Misra, Dr. Trysa Konstantin, Dr. Muhammad Zaman, Dr. Bikshit Guria, Baby Sanna, Mr. Cole, Dr. Valluri Avinash, Dr. Prasanta Misra, (sitting from left to right) Dr. Sahana Sharmin, Dr. Nilgiri Kerketta, Dr. Aruna, Dr. Khandker Haque (not in the picture)Port Fortin, Trinidad:
In the spirit of promoting and encouraging volunteerism, a group of UNV volunteers visited 'Serenity Place'.
This institute, the only home for destitute women in the whole of the English-speaking Caribbean, is located at Point Fortin at the south-western tip of the island of Trinidad. It was established in 1996 aimed at helping women overcome substance abuse and to live independently, taking their rightful and productive place in society.
Though an impromptu idea, the group made a small contribution in the form of gift hampers and a First Aid kit.
The UNV volunteers gathered at San Fernando, from where the journey to Serenity Place started. On reaching the venue the group was warmly greeted by Ms. Ann, (a counsellor at Serenity Place, who was a former resident), who showed the volunteers around and introduced them to the current residents of the home.
Mr. Cole, the Managing Director, was eager to answer queries about the residents and the operational condition of the home. The institute admits people from the streets, drug abusers and the victims of domestic violence. Although the institute started with one focal area, it has encompassed other social issues such as homelessness, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy and single mothers with no income.
Women's empowerment is one of the essential components of this programme. Residents are provided with medical treatment, detoxification regimens and counselling. "The information provided was enlightening, and touching," says Dr. B.K. Guria one of the UNV volunteers. "It motivated us as UNV volunteers to continue advocating volunteerism in the future."
The UNV group formally handed over the gift hampers to the residents. "Later in the session it was a pleasure to share refreshments with the residents," adds Dr. Guria. "It was even more heartwarming when Mr. Cole thanked us and commented that the Serenity Place needed more of these visits and support as the institute survived on such donations."
Finally, it was time to say goodbye and the UNV volunteers promised to volunteer their medical services in the future to the home.