Under the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security’s inaugural “Wish Upon A Star” initiative – the wishes of 50 children with special needs were granted for Christmas.
Among the 50 were five year-old Ayush Bharat; twins and 12 year-olds Hafizah and Saleemah Harmon and their eight year-old sister Shareefa. They met the President Irfaan Ali Thursday afternoon, December 24 at the State House.
Bharat’s mother disclosed that her son “has always idolized the President” and has an autograph book with images of all his heroes. The book was signed by President Ali. Meanwhile, Hafizah and Saleemah during their interaction with the President asked him to assist with a scholarship to attend the ISA Islamic School since their mother could not afford the tuition fees. Following a ‘brief dialogue’ with his Santa, the President announced that their wish would be fulfilled.
Prior to the State House visit, several beneficiaries visited the Ministry’s Head Office to uplift their gifts from Dr. Vindhya Persaud, the subject Minister, who was moved by the children’s reactions.
“Today there were moments of smiles and tears as I watched these children receive their gifts. There isn’t a price tag for a child’s smile,” she said.
The countrywide “Wish Upon A Star” campaign was launched on December 14 by Hon Persaud, and targeted children with special needs between the ages of 4 and 15 who suffer from a terminal illness, disabilities, psychological trauma; lost their parents or never had the opportunity to enjoy that one gift that would make them incredibly happy.
With over 350 handwritten letters received, the Ministry’s Santa Helpers had a difficult task of reviewing the heartfelt requests and determine who were eligible to receive gifts.
Distribution of gifts commenced yesterday, December 23 with the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Shannielle Hoosein-Outar visiting Regions 3, 5 and 6 to personally handover to eligible children.
Four-year-old Yanis Scott, who is paralysed, received a Medical Chair from the team at his Region 3 home while 13-year-old Shivendra Basdeo from Region 5, who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, received a Tablet. Parents of both children applauded Hon Persaud for her vision.
“I honestly did not think we would have received a response so fast,” Kamla, Shivendra’s mother said. “He is playing with the Tablet since we got it. He is so excited that he does not even want to eat. Thank you guys.”
Yanis’ mother, Lisa stated, “It was great thing that make children’s wishes come true. I am happy and contented. It [the chair] has really eased that burden from us.”
Following the favourable feedback, Minister Persaud stated that her mission was accomplished. “I want to thank the Ministry’s staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, including the PS and her team. All the hard work over the past few days really paid off,” she added.
She also expressed her appreciation to the companies that came on board for the campaign. Donating gifts were: Synetech; Courts Guyana Inc.; Massy Motors (Guyana) Ltd; Massy Gas (Guyana) Ltd.; Massy Distribution (Guyana) Ltd; Giftland Group of Companies; Game Xpress; Unique Innovations; Guyana National Bureau of Standards; NAMILCO; Caribbean Containers Inc; Pritipaul Singh Investment; Digicel; Medicare and Rotary Club of Demerara.
“With your generous donation, children with special needs from the 10 Administrative Regions can enjoy a bright Christmas with gifts that they would have wanted. Your unhesitating support in making the “Wish Upon A Star” a success is highly appreciated and I look forward to partnering with you in the future as the Ministry continues to improve the lives of the vulnerable,” she said.
Meanwhile, gifts for children in Regions 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are enroute to be delivered.
On Thursday, Minister Persaud also delivered gifts to the Georgetown Public Hospital Children’s Ward.
[Ministry of Human Services and Social Security]