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Food for the Poor (Guyana) Inc plans to move its housing drive to Linden, Bartica and Leguan this year.

Since it embarked on its housing drive two years ago, Food for the Poor (FFTP) has built 450 homes at $570,000 each, countrywide. The organization noted that the need for housing was great, adding that it had received numerous applications for assistance. Articles like stoves and mattresses are also provided with these homes.

Food for the Poor Executive Director Leon Davis said 40 homes were to be built in Bartica and Linden as a start. The amount of homes to be built in Leguan is yet to be decided.

Davis, at a media briefing on Wednesday afternoon at FFTP headquarters on Blue Mountain Road, Festival City, said currently 40 homes were being built at Wauna in Region One as well as a community centre. These homes are to be occupied by Amerindians who lived in the swamps at Sumato.

Davis explained that these homes contribute to a better family relationship and added that FFTP felt food was not the answer to poverty and so has contributed to sports, education, the medical field and training.

In the education sector, items like books, furniture, stoves, first aid kits, pots and pans were given. FFTP has also sponsored school feeding programmes. It was noted that as a result of the school feeding programmes school attendance has increased.

More support is to be given to schools, Davis said, adding that a New Jersey company, New Horizon Corporation, is to send hundreds of packaged meals for senior citizens and the orphanages. Training programmes in sewing and typing are also held in some regions and to this end sewing machines are donated.

As regards medical supplies, hospital beds, paediatric equipment valued at $71M, blankets, sheets, wheelchairs, medicine and gifts to the maternity ward of $600,000 were distributed. The hospitals that have benefited include Suddie, Skeldon, New Amsterdam, Linden and the West Demerara Regional Hospital.

For the agriculture sector, different kinds of seeds, farming tools and equipment were distributed. Food for the Poor also collaborated with the National Agricultural Research Institute and has assisted the New Amsterdam women's prison to build a chicken farm. Apart from this prison, others gain support in the form of farming equipment and seeds.

And with regard to sports, rural clubs were given footballs, volleyballs and indoor games.

Food for the Poor Chairman Paul Chan-A-Sue said last year the institution received US$31M compared to the US$14.5M in 2004 and has done a considerable amount of work in aid of the poor, though much of it is not reported in the press.

Chan-A-Sue said FFTP was not in Regions One, Eight and Nine but supplies from the organisation reached these communities. However, be-cause of the transportation cost involved, persons in those communities would take the items in. These persons work closely with the organisation and distribute the items.

At Christmas and Easter, the organisation paid the fines for some persons who were incarcerated as a result of not being able to afford to pay fines imposed by the courts. "We try to look after the prisons as best as we can," Chan-A-Sue said.

Addressing the concerns of expired goods coming from Food for the Poor, Davis said this was a rarity.

He noted that at times some items in a box of goods may have expired and been distributed unknowingly.

In addition, it was explained that FFTP items were sometimes sold on the street and while the organization tries hard to clamp down on this, it could not be eliminated 100%.

Food for the Poor (Guyana) has a staff of 55 and was started in 1991. (Nicosia Smith)

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