State fails teen

Sweet-I Robertson

KINGSTOWN — Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has scolded various state agencies for failing to aid gunshot victim Sweet-I Robertson, and has made several urgent recommendations which would see the paralysed teenager immediately receiving financial, medical and material assistance.

In a memorandum dated January 3 to various state agencies, Gonsalves said “it is evident that the state and its various agencies have failed Sweet-I”.

“The regular monthly public assistance is wholly inadequate. Her housing situation is entirely inadequate. Care of her by professional caregivers has been absent. There has been little or no follow-up. Her physiotherapy treatment is surely inadequate…,” the memo states.

“Indeed, the state and its agencies have dropped the ball and have left her simply to waste away. This is unacceptable. Multiple interventions to improve her condition and quality of life are urgently required,” the memo said.

Robertson, 19, was caught in crossfire stemming from an altercation between young men on October 30, 2009, while on her way home from a heritage pageant at the Petit Bordel Secondary School. Once a star athlete at her school, the Chateaubelair resident has been confined to a wheelchair since being shot – leaving her sister, Racquel Robertson to cater to her every need. There is no indoor toilet or pipe-borne water in their small, rented wall house.

Despite her condition, the brave teen wrote five CXC subjects in 2011 and gained four passes – including a grade 1 in Mathematics.

The prime minister said he became aware of Robertson’s plight when an article was published in SEARCHLIGHT on December 21, 2012. The day after Gonsalves visited Robertson at her Chateaubelair home, and found that “despite Sweet-I’s injury and condition, she remains stoic, pleasant, and optimistic of life…,” the memo read.


Following the visit, Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, made several recommendations and suggestions, which he said should be coordinated by Director of Family Affairs Nichola Evans and Cabinet Secretary Susan Dougan, both of whom will also oversee her day-to-day care.

With immediate effect, her monthly allowance for living expenses has been increased to EC$1,000 from the EC$200 regular public assistance she had been receiving.

“I suggest that the National Lottery and/or the National Insurance Services be asked to pay the other $800 monthly on an on-going basis,” he said.

The efforts of Sweet-I’s family to care for her will be supplemented by a trained caregiver provided by the Ministry of Social Development or the Ministry of Health. (Searchlight)

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