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The Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) has stepped up to assist the victims of a recent fire in Vieux Fort. On July 26, 2015, five families in the Westhall Group area – better known as the Mangue – were displaced by the blaze that swept through their neighbourhood. Since then, relief efforts for the affected persons have been ongoing.

Of particular concern has been the situation of the children preparing for a new school term a few weeks hence, having lost their books, bags and uniforms in the inferno. On Wednesday, August 19, SLASPA took steps to help remedy that, presenting cheques in the amount of $1,000 for each of the distressed students to assist in getting educational supplies.

The cheques were presented by Airport Manager, Mr. Teddy Matthews, along with Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for Vieux Fort South, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony. Five children from three families received direct financial assistance, whilst all five families were also given grocery hampers and basic household supplies.

Ms. Marva Greenidge, SLASPA Marketing Specialist, explained that the organisation is simply embracing the community, and young people above all. “SLASPA is committed to developing the minds of the youth,” she said. “And the General Manager in particular was very touched when he learned of the family members who had children.”

The Prime Minister thanked SLASPA for its generosity, and for specifically reaching out to the children. Indicating that even in his discussions with NEMO, the National Emergency Management Organisation, he has been at pains to emphasise the special needs of children, he went on to stress how important it is to reach out to the youngsters.

Said Dr. Anthony,

"A fire is a very traumatic thing; it is traumatic for the individuals who have lost their houses, it is traumatic for the persons who are living in the houses, and most of all, very traumatic for the children. It is usually the case that we forget the children, and how difficult it is for them. They worry about schoolbooks, they worry about their clothes, they worry about their bags, and of course, whatever little toys and items they may have had. You know it is difficult for their parents who have suffered the loss, but they also know that for them, returning to normalcy is even more challenging emotionally. And so, it is important to extend emotional support to our children when fires do occur."

Wednesday’s brief ceremony took place at the Vieux Fort Town Council Office. Vieux Fort mayor Winall Joshua, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Dr. Cadelia Ambrose and SLASPA staff were also in attendance.
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