‘WISH Upon a Star’ – an initiative conceptualised by Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, to fulfill the dreams of children with special needs during the festive season, was recently launched for this year and is again expected to bring smiles upon the faces of dozens of children.
Last year, Dr. Persaud saw to it that 50 children from all across Guyana received exactly what it was that they wrote to her about, including a memorable interaction with President Irfaan Ali for some of them.
The Ministry is now once again presenting the initiative, with Dr. Persaud welcoming anyone who would like to partner with the Ministry in making it a reality. “We want to be able to ensure that children are very happy for this festive season; we want to make them feel special,” Dr. Persaud mentioned during her announcement of this year’s initiative.
The Ministry is focusing on children between the ages of four and 15 with special needs, such as those living with disabilities; children who would’ve experienced some traumatic or psychological incident in their life; who have lost their parents and do not have guardians or caregivers; and who would’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy that one gift that could make them incredibly happy.
“All they need to do is put that handwritten note in the box saying what they want. If they can’t do that and you (parent/guardian) can, that’s also welcome because at the end of the day, we’ll try to make those wishes into a reality,” Minister Persaud expressed.
In crafting the initiative, Dr. Persaud had especially taken into consideration how children generally look forward to Christmas time and how granting their special wishes can have a profound impact on them.
Having received over 350 handwritten letters last year, the Ministry’s ‘Santa Helpers’ had a difficult task of reviewing the heartfelt requests and determining who were eligible to receive gifts. Nevertheless, as she wrapped up the event, Dr. Persaud shared: “There were moments of smiles and tears as I watched these children receive their gifts. There isn’t a price tag for a child’s smile.”
Five-year-old Ayush Bharat; 12-year-old twins Hafizah and Saleemah Harmon and their eight-year-old sister Shareefa, all met President Ali on Christmas Eve last year at State House. Hafizah and Saleemah, during their interaction with the President, asked him to assist them with a scholarship to attend the ISA Islamic School, since their mother cannot afford the tuition fees. Following a brief dialogue, the President announced that their wish will be fulfilled.
The deadline for the letters this year is December 15 and persons are encouraged to utilize the specially marked boxes at Ministry locations all across the country, including at Lamaha and East Streets, Cornhill Street, and the Childcare and Protection Agency, at Broad Street, Charlestown.