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Think of others
Posted: Monday, December 8, 2008

By Derren Joseph
December 08, 2008

On Sunday afternoon, on NCC Channel 4, there was a broadcast of The Stars are Shining Brightly 4—A Celebration of Musical Melodies.

The concert was held at St Mary's College on October 11, under the distinguished patronage of Sir Ellis Clarke, TC, and Madame Justice Jean Permanand.

It is well worth the time to watch, as this concert features Witco Desperadoes, 3Canal, Eddie Cumberbatch, Gillian Seecharan-Scott, Kees, H2O Phlo, St Joseph's Convent Choir and Debbie Nahous.

We have such incredible talent in Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe it is because we have so much talent that it is easy to take it for granted?

After enjoying this concert, I was so moved that I made sure to pick up an Eddie Cumberbatch CD at the shop in Hotel Normandie, St Ann's. We need to continue to support our local artistes.

But what made this show even more special is that these artistes gave of their time free of charge. This is the fourth concert of this kind.

Proceeds of this year's concert went to St Martin's Welfare Association in east Port-of-Spain, to fund a literacy programme.

Money raised from the previous concert is being used to fund a three-year awards programme at Laventille Technology and Continuing Education Centre.

Here, the top 30 achievers among each year's graduating trainees receive tool kits in their respective areas of training, be it welding, plumbing, joinery or other much-needed skills.

The aim is to encourage excellence while providing them with the tools needed to start working.

The concert was organised by St Mary's College Past Students' Union and St Joseph's Convent (PoS) Past Students' Association.

Last week, there was a small ceremony to hand over the funds to the receiving institutions. I was speaking to a member of the concert organising committee who spoke of there being a battle for hearts and minds.

Selfishness vs selflessness

The principals of the two schools involved in this initiative seemed to agree. At the function, St Joseph's Convent principal, Jennifer Annandsingh, spoke of this being a time of selfishness—everyone is thinking about themselves and not enough about others.

St Mary's College principal, Fr Ronald Mendes, went on to remind us of just how important it is to look out for those around us who may not be able to look out for themselves.

One person who thinks of others is Claudia Ottley, who works with St Martin's Welfare Association Pre-School.

A retired school principal, Mrs Ottley helped restart the pre-school programme in 2001. The pre-school had been closed for seven to eight years.

It was meant to be a short-term project, but Mrs Ottley is still there today giving of her time freely in what some may consider to be a dangerous area.

I asked Mrs Ottley what motivated her to work so hard for no financial reward. Her response was so simple:

"Somebody has to do it."

Mrs Ottley is definitely a woman who thinks of others.

Better education

Since reopening, the pre-school has registered with the Ministry of Education and has been recognised as an early childhood care and education centre for three-to-five-year-olds.

In due course it may qualify for support from the Ministry of Education.

Kudos to the Early Childhood Centre team at the Ministry of Education for supporting initiatives like this.

One of the pillars of Vision 2020 is innovative people, and this section notes: "There should be no impediments to learning. Regardless of age, experience, or socio-economic standing, opportunities should always be available to access education.

"The participation rate in education by all citizens must be amongst the highest in the world." The report goes on to say:

"Everyone must have a stake in education. A better education system should be promoted via partnerships between a wide cross-section of stakeholders, including the private and public sectors and community groups."

Despite our challenges, we are so blessed to live in this beautiful country. We need to remember and acknowledge just how much uplifting work is being done all around us.

These are quiet, humble people not looking for money or fame. These are everyday people making a positive difference.

Let us continue to have the audacity of hope in our country, as we move towards Vision 2020.

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