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About Lady Hochoy

In 1957, Lady Thelma Hochoy and Mrs. Rose Miles paid a visit to the House of Refuge, now called the St. James Infirmary. During their visit they came across twenty five children with severe Mental Retardation. The children lived among the destitute and elderly mental patients at the chronically short-staffed House of Refuge and at the Psychiatric Hospital in St. Ann's. Exposed to such unsuitable surroundings, the children's plight appeared terrible and hopeless.

Lady Hochoy was the wife of the then Acting Governor of Trinidad and Tobago, Sir Solomon Hochoy. Rose Miles was an American whose husband Milton Miles was in charge of the Alcoa operation in Trinidad. Their visit changed the lives of those children and gave hope and meaning to the lives of thousands more.

Struck with compassion by what they had seen at the House of Refuge, the two women immediately began to search for better facilities to accommodate the children. They worked tirelessly to realize the dream that was born that day- to establish a residence to cater specifically for children with severe mental retardation.

They approached appropriate people within the society to assist. Lady Hochoy understood the problems that would be involved in working in this field, and ensured that every volunteer met the twenty five children from the House of Refuge, to see if they could cope with the situation. If they felt they could work with these children, she knew they could work with any. Luckily most of them could.

A committee was chosen which led the formation of The Trinidad and Tobago Association for Retarded Children (TTARC) in 1958. This is the umbrella Association under which all the Lady Hochoy Homes, the Memisa Centre and the Penal Day Care Centre now fall. TTARC entered into a contract with the Carmelite Sisters to provide the necessary services on a consistent and efficient basis.

On March 20, 1961, the first residential centre, the Lady Hochoy Home, was opened in Cocorite, on the fringes of Port of Spain. It was named after its patroness, the driving force and inspiration behind the programme of care and welfare that would open new doors to the country's youngsters with intellectual impairment. The home was built on land donated by the government, and was funded on the basis of a two thirds contribution by the government and one-third raised by the association. This was the first centre of its kind in the West Indies to be specially built and dedicated to the care and skilled treatment of children with delayed development. It was a home in the true sense of the word.

The Lady Hochoy Home in Cocorite had to serve the whole country: not surprisingly, it was inundated with requests from people clamouring with help. This led to the establishment of additional Centres in Arima, Gasparillo and Penal to cater to the needs of families in other parts of Trinidad.