Prime Minister, the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Photo courtesy guardian.co.tt
July 24, 2012:
I thank you for your invitation to speak here today I would also like to you and Father Sirju for your choice of a thanksgiving mass as the way of celebrating this occasion and for really what I consider a great opportunity to personally give credit, where much credit is in fact due.
One particular challenge faced in many communities across our country is that our young men and women, with boundless energy and a deep desire to project their individuality and stand out, become targets.
They are the targets of people who hold no compassion, nor care, but only the intent to use the energy of our young people, to fulfill their own illicit and evil intentions.
If one were to be guided only by what we read in the newspaper, one would easily believe that all is lost, and that the only persons befriending our young people, are those who care little for their future.
Thankfully the news coverage is not all that guides us.
What we do not read a lot about are the stories where dedicated men and women stand together, driven by true community spirit and through voluntary acts of compassion give of their time and energy to provide guidance and direction for young people.
What we do not frequently read about are the successes of clubs like the Siparia Police Youth Club, the determination of the young membership to compete and win, to demonstrate strong sportsmanship, to aim high and achieve, and to take control of their own lives.
Indeed, what we also do not frequently read about, even though it may very clearly exists, are the real life stories of many who may have gone astray, but have been brought back into disciplined, responsible and caring environments through the help of our Police and our communities.
Today, as we give thanks to God in your first year interfaith observance, we see unmistakably that such goodwill exists, such determination exists, such success stories exist, and such efforts are deserving of the highest commendation and the greatest support.
This is why as Minister Warner indicated we are considering at this time ways in which we can provide additional funding for the police Youth Clubs. I therefore congratulate Acting Sargent Roger Worrell; Acting Woman Corporal Cooper; Police Constable Taylor, Woman Police Constable La Coa; Woman Police Constable Gibbs and Woman Police Constable Sylvester for their outstanding work with the Siparia Police Youth Club.
I also congratulate the young people who have in just one year made this a very strong, achieving and talented club. All of you deserve national commendation for the spirit you have demonstrated over the past year and for what I am confident will be a continuing zeal to succeed.
Given what I have read and what I know of the club, you have it in you to inspire others with your successes and achievements and I want you to know that every step of the way, you have my support. And yes Jordan my office will invite you and your group to the Diplomatic Centre to dine with the Prime Minister.
In such a short time, your club has built a membership of over 200 young people, ages five to 25 from Siparia, Santa Flora, Palo Seco, Erin, Fyzabad and Penal.
Your successes have been many and when I read of the levels of participation and achievement, I was really pleasantly surprised. And I paid close attention to the fact that these were “only some” of your achievements.
Important to these achievements is the fact that I read in your brief that, and I quote:
“Although at the beginning a few of our members displayed some form of deviant behaviour, we are extremely proud to report that just a mere twelve months later, delinquency at our club can be considered minimum with none of our members being involved in any unlawful acts.”
You have therefore triumphed! You have beaten the odds and matured and you have shown that even if you made mistakes before, as we all do, you were prepared to recognize your errors, and do what was necessary to be better, do better and live better.
What this also tells me is that the model that you pioneers have created is one that works – a model where communities, community activities and partnerships between our law enforcement personnel, our parents and our children, can in fact have lasting positive impacts.
I want the country to know that you are not just another success story, but also that your work in just one year, should be the benchmark of how communities regain control of themselves and how people can be brought back into the fold of law-abiding, ambitious, forward thinking and achieving individuals.
In this regard, I would ask all NGO's parents and CBO's along with the media to assist and support organizations such as the Siparia Police Youth Club.
I know that the media must pursue its job in the best way that it knows how, but the great work of our non-Governmental and Community Based Organizations need in my respectful view exposure as well. And I believe that when others read of these successes, it will motivate them to try even harder as they know that the odds can in fact be beaten.
A lot of good work is taking place and is being facilitated by people who are content with the reward of knowing their efforts are making a positive difference.
Mahatma Gandhi once said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
In this year of our nation’s Golden Jubilee of Independence, yours is a fitting tribute to true service and a robust reminder to all of us that it is in service to people, that we can all as one people find ourselves.
What is particularly encouraging to me, and should be to the many communities who are trying to find ways to positively engage young people, is the fact that your activities were not only focused on sports and competition.
I am very happy to see that the activities in the last year included training in table etiquette, dancing, the formation of a choir, drama, lectures on developing Self Esteem, Conflict Management, Sexual Offences, Drugs and Community Participation.
And I understand there will soon be a Guitar Music Class for fifty (50) members of your youth club to be sponsored by Petrotrin. Let your light shine.
You can be the inspiration that other communities need to become safer, cleaner and more focused on success.
Today as we celebrate your achievements in just one year, and reflect on the distance you have come as a team, as friends and as young citizens with a common goal to succeed, let us also recognize the responsibility now placed on you.
You have turned your lives around. You have focused your energy on positive activities that will benefit you as much as your community. You have formed strong friendships and relationships. And you have taken control of your future.
All of you have therefore earned the right to hold your heads high. But do so with humility by never forgetting what it took, and always remembering that with your experience, you can now help others.
As someone who has been in service to people for the greater part of my adult life, I can tell you that the road will not always be easy, and not everyone will recognize you for doing service.
You will face challenges. You will face adversity. And you will face opposition. At times you may find yourselves wondering why so many would object to your good intentions, and you may even feel like giving up.
My young friends, the quickest way to defeat is to give up. The quickest way to wipe away your successes is to surrender the things you truly believe in. For as long as your intentions are honourable, your belief is strong, and your objective is for the greater good, do not give up.
Stand strong and walk tall! Your communities are proud of your achievements and we all look forward to even greater things in the times to come.
Give a round of applause to your parents who have brought You thus far.
May God Bless you all, guide you and keep you safe on your new journey forward into your own lives.
I thank you.