Offers of help pour in for Sahadeo
Charmaine Sahadeo was reduced to tears by the overwhelming response she has received from the public after she appealed for help to treat a disfiguring skin condition and cope with mounting financial hardships.
Sahadeo’s plight, which was highlighted in last week’s Sunday Guardian and aired on CNC3 news, has resulted in pledges of support from scores of citizens and the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services.
The 42-year-old mother of two suffers from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumours to form all over the body. Dozens of nodules have made her unrecognisable and there are four large tumours on her right leg weighing approximately 15 pounds. Lumps of varying sizes cover almost every inch of Sahadeo’s body and head.
The condition has made a prisoner in her Chaguanas home.
Unable to work, Sahadeo depends on a $2,000 disability grant from the Ministry of Social Development which she claims does not go a long way after she pays her rent and bills. Some days, she cannot even afford a proper meal.
Minister of Social Development Donna Cox said social workers are exploring what other assistance her ministry and the Ministry of Health can provide.
“They have contacted a doctor who will review and provide referrals where possible,” Cox told Guardian Media last week.
Providing an update on Friday, the minister said Sahadeo had received a referral letter to join the skin clinic at the Chaguanas Health Facility.
“Arrangements have also been made for Ms Sahadeo to visit the Chaguanas General Practitioners’ Clinic so that she can register at the Chaguanas Health Centre. She will be placed in the outpatient clinic for further monitoring and continuous care.”
In addition, Sahadeo was referred to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex for dental care and will also benefit from the Utilities Assistance Programme managed by the Ministry of Public Utilities which provides financial assistance to eligible citizens to ensure their continued access to basic utilities such as water and electricity.
The programme is aimed at enhancing the real income of beneficiaries by cushioning the effects of the rising cost of public utilities.
An application is also being processed for Sahadeo to access a 400-gallon water tank.
“Counselling will also be provided to her,” Cox assured.
On Tuesday, Sahadeo confirmed that she had recieved a $6,000 voucher from Cox’s ministry to purchase a washing machine and living room set which she had been managing without for years.
“The social workers have been doing an assessment of my needs and interacting with me on a regular basis. Next week I will join the skin clinic because my skin condition is my number one priority. If the doctors can remove the tumours on my leg and some of the growths on my face it will make my day.
“I will be so happy. I have been living with these lumps on my body for over three decades. I just want to live a normal life. That is all I am wishing for because I know neurofibromatosis is not curable.”
Apart from the medical help, people have also offered financial assistance and prayed with Sahadeo over the phone. She has also been contacted by attorney Martin George who has offered help
On Monday, George posted on his Facebook page: “As a society, we must do better, I call upon the Ministers of Health, Housing and Social Development to join this effort to do more to help Charmaine Sahadeo.”
TechAccess, a Port-of-Spain-based electronic store, donated a radio on Tuesday.
“One nurse called to say that she raised $900 to help me with my bills. Others promised to drop off groceries at month end. In the last week, a lot of people called to pray with me and provided words of encouragement and support. It brought tears to my eyes because it showed that despite all the negativity facing the country there are still caring and compassionate people out here,” Sahadeo said.
“I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart especially Minister Cox and Guardian Media for coming to my assistance. This overwhelming support is a sign that I should not give up and that God has a purpose for me on this earth.”
BY: SHALIZA HASSANALI