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Young Men of Promise and Queen Latifah
Posted: Sunday, January 11, 2009

By Derren Joseph
January 12, 2009

Last Sunday, the East Port of Spain Mentorship Project held its New Years luncheon at the Dining Room of Unit Trust Corporation's Headquarters. We are grateful to Ruben Mc Sween (who is also one of the project supervisors) and the team at the UTC for allowing us to use its facility.

This project pairs adolescent males from the East Port of Spain district with adult male mentors. It is led by Fr Clyde Harvey, the parish priest at Rosary Church in P.O.S. and Chairman of the Morris Marshall Foundation.

The Morris Marshall Development Foundation was founded in 1994 to further the work of the late Morris Marshall who had been the Parliamentary Representative for Laventille West. The motto of the Foundation is from the late Marshall: "It is through education that social change will come to the community".

The Foundation believes that it is by giving the youth insights into alternatives to their present circumstances that we can light a fire in them that we can hopefully nurture and as a consequence begin to break the cycle of crime and violence.

As a pilot project, this effort hopes that it will set a new model for the initiation of young males into adult masculinity. The young men are 11- 15 years old, and have been identified as being at risk but yet with great potential.

These young men of promise, that is, the mentees, underwent a two week residential camp in July 2008, led by Terrence Caesar and his team. Terrence is a school principal, scout leader, former teacher of the year and former police officer.

Mentors and mentees aim to meet for an hour once per week. Feedback from parents / guardians so far is that they have already seen a positive difference in the young men. The East Port of Spain project is just one of the many mentoring programmes in existence in Trinidad and Tobago.

Personally, I have found mentoring to be quite an educational and rewarding experience. My sons are younger than my mentee, so it is excellent preparation for what I am to expect in a few years.

I pay my respects to all Trinbagonians involved in a mentorship project. I want to acknowledge all the project supervisors, the mentors and mentees themselves. Keep going!

On another note, on Facebook last week, my friend Caroline Neisha Taylor circulated the link to a video on You Tube of Queen Latifah speaking about her trip to Trinidad and Tobago. If it is still available it would be at

It is a 5 minute 12 second film clip from the Jay Leno show of January 7th 2009. In it she describes the marvelous time she had in both Trinidad and Tobago. She explains "I went to Trinidad and Tobago…Trinidad is the party island where you do jumping and wining. And in Tobago is where you lime."

She goes on to describe the history and definition of liming she got from her tour guide. I could not stop laughing at this clip. She uses the term 'lime' about 14 times and she shows a picture from her trip. She mentions Stonehaven by name and talks about soca and wukkin up her waste.

What a breath of fresh air. Don't you think? Let me put this in context. An article on explains that David Letterman is losing the ratings battle to Jay Leno. Leno is one of the top talk shows with many millions of viewers tuning in.

So with millions of people from such a huge source market of potential travelers, tuning in for at least 5 minutes of a glowing tribute to our tour guides, accommodation providers and destination as a whole - I would say that is absolutely amazing.

My guess is that in air time alone, brand Trinidad and Tobago got millions of dollars worth of positive, prime time exposure. And what of the value of the first hand testimony from a celebrity of her caliber? Priceless!

After asking around, I am told that all the credit for dealing with her unfortunate incident lies with the Tobago House of Assembly. In the You Tube clip, the incident is never mentioned. Kudos to those at the THA who were directly involved.

As always, I end by saying that 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.

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

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