T&T student on scholarship in India bemoans conditions

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(Trinidad Express) A YOUNG woman from Charlieville who accepted a one-year scholarship to learn Hindi in India through the Indian High Commission is desperate to return home, since she says the conditions at the hostel where she and about 100 pupils are staying are atrocious and the treatment harsh.

 

Raynuka Baldeo, 25, says she no longer wants to pursue her studies there and is asking the High Commission to intervene and help her get back to Trinidad.

 

However, an official at the High Commission said he had been in contact with the school and was told that the students there simply needed to get acclimatised. But in a letter to the Express on Tuesday, Basdeo told a different story, saying she was living in squalid conditions at a girls hostel.

 

And her father Premchand Baldeo wants both the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Indian High Commission to get involved “and bring my child back immediately”. Raynuka Baldeo, who has a BSc in Information Technology, said that Trinidad Embassy in New Delhi and the High Commission in Trinidad were aware of the poor living conditions she is faced. “We are living in the most deplorable conditions. The girls hostel is rat infested, rats in the kitchen where the chefs are cooking our food, dog poop in the corridors on mornings. We are forced to eat the contaminated food and if we refuse, the head lady of our hostel, yells at us and forces us to eat it. The place is so dirty, We live without electricity on most days and we have no air conditioning, just a fan. We bathe with polluted tap water (which is) not conducive for drinking. And (there is a) very unreliable wifi (wireless/internet) connection which drops every five minutes. But our major concerns are the rat and dirty food.”

 

Baldeo said that the school has informed the pupils that most of their monthly stipend will go to the school, whether students eat at the school canteen or not. She said that her flight travels expenses had already been paid to return home, but she had no money to travel from her location in Agra to the international Delhi airport for the long trip home. “I will definitely need a special permit to pass through Agra to Delhi to reach to the Indira Gandhi Airport, It will take about 4 to 5 hours by car because of the rape attacks in India are bad. The university has already said they are not providing transport to go back to the airport like they did when we landed here”. Baldeo said she has contacted the Trinidad embassy in New Delhi and the Indian High Commission.

 

However, nothing has been done and she has only received an acknowledgement email from the embassy in India. Baldeo also said that several of the other pupils got food poisoning, and suffers from vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, nausea and bleeding from infections. She said: “We have a doctor who is not examining us or doing any test. She is simply giving prescriptions for everything and saying the rats are normal and we must adjust and eat the polluted food and she yells at us when we voice our opinions. The school has informed us that they are not sending any ambulance or help, (that) we must lift the students by hand and find a taxi (rickshaw) and find our way to the hospital”. Premchand Baldeo said: I am very disturbed and disappointed at the situation” He said that during the application process, the family was assured she would be well taken care of. “The family is distraught” said Baldeo, who believes that the High Commission should pay whatever fees were involved to get his child home.

 

Not so bad

An official at the High Commission said that they are aware of Baldeo’s situation. The official said the Commission has contacted the hostel and school concerning the living conditions and were told that the pupils need to adjust to the weather conditions, which was given as the reason for the pupils falling ill. The official also said that the Commission will attempt to make contact with Baldeo to enquire further on her condition.

 

The Express was unable to contact the Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday.

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