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Jul 14, 2009

…And Hand in Hand Ministries not looking for a fight

Story PictureWe also spoke to the Director of Programs at Hand in Hand Ministries, Abel Vargas, and he told us they don’t intend to engage in controversy over the land, but the situation has thrown a wrench in their plans. Hand in Hand had secured financing and started a three phase project to construct a multipurpose complex on the land, which would include a treatment center, cafeteria, tutoring for students in their scholarship program and a meeting are for support program for adults and adolescents affected by HIV/AIDS. Vargas says they are seeking legal advice on the matter because they have already started investing in the property and an agreement between government and the Catholic Church to reclaim two acres of the land was never finalized.

Abel Vargas, Director of Programs, Hand in Hand Ministries
“There has been a lot of rumours, if you may, or a lot of controversy surrounding the ownership of this land. We are very much unaware of any third party or fourth party or even government owning the land, for Christ sake. What we know is that we got an opportunity from the Bishop in 2005. We are not here really to argue for any land. We are not here to advocate for any controversy or any conflict; that’s not what we’re all about.”

Delahnie Bain
“So you have no knowledge of the agreement that was signed I believe in 1996, between the government and—the minister last week presented documents…”

Abel Vargas
“Yes, I understand that there is some agreement to that effect and quite honestly, the Bishop said that yes, there may have been an agreement but there was nothing concluded. And for that reason, we have actually requested or we are seeking legal advice now however practical that may be. But we are seeking legal advice because in order for ownership to have been changed so to speak, or for ownership to have been reverted, there has to have been some kind of a document. The only document that we have is a document where the bishop proposed an agreement and in a meeting, there were some minutes taken. That’s what I understand, but that there was an official transfer of ownership or reversion of their lease, I don’t know if there exists such a document. It’s a governors Fiat Grant that was given to the Catholic Church. That’s the original document that we have and based on that document, in 2005 the attorneys for the parish came in and drafted out a lease license for us for twenty years based on that document. So what happened after that or in the interim of that, we don’t know. Hand in Hand Ministries really doesn’t know.”

Vargas says he has requested an audience with Prime Minister Dean Barrow and he hopes that they can get some assistance from that meeting.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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