“Homeless people’s rehabilitation is a success story,” As the head of the presidential working group on the reintegration of the homeless, District Commissioner Ricardo Bhola makes these statements. On Tuesday, August 1, 2023, the working group gave President Chandrikapersad Santokhi an update on the project’s status. The Wanica Regional Hospital now houses the homeless persons that were removed from the streets in the past. With the project’s growth into neighboring districts, it will be possible to give it a sustainable nature. In the end, a national shelter should be constructed.
“It was a huge challenge for the working group to bring back into society this group of people who had been living on the streets for years,” says chairman Bhola. The working group succeeded in rehabilitating 20 people. Now they can independently provide for their needs and maintenance. The people now have a permanent job and work is being done to get them a permanent residence. The mayor mainly emphasizes how the project started and the success as the final result. “We started something with a group of homeless people, with no idea if the project would succeed,” he says.
In addition to informing President Santokhi of the result, the working group also brought the follow-up process to the attention of the head of state. For example, it is the intention to expand the program to the other districts. The working group has so far concentrated on homeless people in Paramaribo, especially the inner city, including the Waterkant. But also those who stay in the vicinity of the Kerkplein will soon be taken care of and guided.
The program also has a medical aspect with three facets. “You catch them, treat them and then they are supervised,” explains project manager Leroy Troon. In addition, teaching hygiene is also important, according to him; so that people can live healthier and do not contract diseases. Getting the group ready to re-enter society has also been a major challenge. The resocialized people have been taught how to communicate with each other and how to deal with different situations.