Formal Rededication of the Curepe Community Centre Tuesday 14th August, 2018

  • The Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh, Member of Parliament for St. Joseph and Minister of Health
  • Ms. Angela Edwards, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts
  • Mr. Paul Leacock Chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation
  • Ms. J-Lynn Roopnarine, Councillor for Curepe/Pasea
  • Ms. Gwyneth Alexander, Deputy Director of the Community Development Division
  • Other members of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts
  • Ms. Ingrid Jack, President of the Curepe Community Council
  • Members of the Curepe community and environs
  • Special Awardees
  • Specially invited guests
  • Members of the Media
  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • Children

Good afternoon.

I have two big brothers and I have one big sister, so I am the baby of my family. There is a big space between my brother and I. My parents had two big boys and a space and two little girls. When my sister came around, my eldest brother got the privilege of giving her, her second name and when I came around, my second brother got the privilege of giving me, my middle name so when I heard (the secretary of the village council) her called me Elizabeth, I said my second brother will be so happy to hear that name called.

There is a word in South Africa – Ubuntu (pronounced as uu-Boon-too)and there is a very nice story from Africa which demonstrates what that word means and I want to share with you that story this afternoon.

An Anthropologist proposed a game to the African tribal children.  He placed a basket of sweets near a tree and made the children stand 100 meters away. Then announced that whoever reaches first would get all the sweets in the basket. When he said ‘ready, set, go!’ Do you know what these children did? I will imagine if it were children from Trinidad what they may have done but all those children held each other’s hands, ran together towards the tree, and divided the sweets equally and everyone enjoyed it. When the Anthropologist asked them why they did so, they answered…. “Ubuntu”. Which meant – ‘How can one be happy when the others are sad?’ Ubuntu in their language means – “I am because we are”.

This African proverb reveals a view that we owe our selfhood to others, and we know the popular old song ‘no man/woman is an island’, or as another African saying goes, “One finger cannot pick up a grain.” Ubuntu is a deeply personal philosophy that calls on us to mirror our humanity for each other and to the observer, Ubuntu can be seen and felt in the way we interact with each other, in the way we help each other and in a way that a community comes together to solve their problem. 

This is the essence of community development, and this is what a community centre brings to a community. It is a space where that togetherness can happen, where people can come together to solve the communities’ problem, younger people interacting with older people, socializing with each other, having events, and that is why it is so important that in communities because we owe our sense of self to each other, the Ministry and the government is invested in making a space available for that togetherness to happen. And so, it is with great pleasure that we are here in Curepe.

Those of you involve may have known the challenges that were faced in getting this centre to this point. First there was the issue of the pans and how we will deal with that and how we will accommodate that in this space because as we look around and we see the racks all outside we understand how integral a part of this community that pan side is and what it brings to your community. And then of course we wanted to be sure along with the pan that there was a space for that togetherness to happen for that Ubuntu principle to be practice here in Curepe. And so, we have come to this point as difficult though it may have been, we are here and I am very happy and grateful to the members of the Ministry who would have worked hard, we have Technical Director in charge of the Project Unit, Mr. Ragbir, Mr. Gittens who is also a part of that unit, who would have worked hard to ensure that we got to this point.

I know that the feelings are a little bit warm in this centre and that is a good thing. However, we will do our best to even carry it to a better level for you so that we can have more dancers in your centre, like the dances we saw there. I have to come up to Curepe, do you think I qualify to be a Curepeian? I went to SAGHS, plenty years ago, will you take me? Alright, they will take me so I can come and join the dance class and get a couple steps.

We are happy to deliver this centre and I will share with you that this is centre number 25 that we have opened, new and refurbished centres since September 2015. I want to give the Ministry’s official a rounds of applause because in this time of hardship, it is difficult to be organize, to get the funds together and to keep things running so that we can get centres churned out. We do it because we must do it. We must do it because we want to foster within our communities that sense of togetherness that Ubuntu principle that all of us must go together if we are to succeed. That is what community development is about and so as we hand over this centre to you Curepe, we are expect that you will  take very good care of it because you have waited long for this centre.

You are now the recipients of a centre that can give you what you want out of your community. It can be there to use for training, for events, and it must be accessible to the entire community. We don’t want your centre to be locked up more than it is in use and come with a responsibility. To the community council who are present in this area, it means that you have to organize yourself to have this centre available. You have to market it, tell people come use our centre, you have to ensure that they clean up after and the centre is well presented in the way it is today. You have to take responsibility for this building and the Ministry is there to assist you but we cannot in your community be at the fore-front. It must be that the community council takes it responsibility and runs with it and I heard you say, madam chairperson of the council that it is difficult to get all members in one space at one time and I know that is something you all will be working on to ensure that you have adequate man power to assist you in making this investment work for the Curepe community.

We look forward to the classes that will take place here that you are accustomed to and I see some wood burning, balloon decorating, evidence of classes taking place in the community, which means that members of the community are for free, being empowered with skills that are marketable. Skills that you can use to help yourself as well as start off community business, micro entrepreneurship and that is the purpose of it. It means that those in Curepe are taking up the opportunity and with your centre as beautifully turned out as it is there will be more opportunity.

I saw a Best Village person, very strong Best Village community singing a song for us this afternoon but I also saw him and his group performing excellently throughout the Best Village season and therefore, I expect as well more and better out of Curepe now that the investment has been made and I am looking forward to that. Because without that kind of push and emphasis this investment would have fallen flat. I know that the members of the Curepe community and the community council and your Member of Parliament will ensure that does not happen here in Curepe. There are too many people to benefit from this centre for this investment to fall flat.

I look forward, to what will come out of Curepe, I look forward to you making the best use of this space and I look forward to you taking up the challenge to make sure that your centre stays the best centre in Trinidad and Tobago. Best not just because of the building but because of what it brings to the community and how it is been used positively to benefit your community.

God Bless you, God Bless your centre and God Bless everyone who continue to support their community.