I believe in the essential unity of all people and
for that matter of all lives.
The recent euphoria and outpouring of love by citizens as
a result of the success of the Soca Warriors was a clear demonstration
of how wonderful our country could be if we live in harmony
with each other.
It also highlighted the rewards of true service to the community.
We need more people like Jack Warner in our communitiespeople
with vision; people with selfless dedication to a cause; people
who continue on course in spite of obstacles placed
in their way.
There are many in T&T who serve their communities tirelessly
and selflessly. On Sunday I joined about 800 members of Living
Water Community (LWC) at a Mass and a celebratory event to
mark LWCs 30th anniversary.
Im sure you are aware of the amazing amount of work
undertaken with love by members of this Catholic Charismatic
Community which was founded in 1975 by Rhonda Maingot and
A visit to LWCs Web site at www.livingwatercommunity.com
shows the range of initiatives in which members are involved,
eg a home for the dying; a job-creating project for youths;
a rehabilitation centre for homeless men and one for those
seeking to recover from drug/substance abuse; a halfway home
for battered women and children; a caring centre for the homeless;
a food bank where food is distributed to the needy; Trinity
Communications Network which produces and airs TV and Internet
programmes; a bookstore and catering service. It was good
to hear from members of LWC missions abroad.
To profess ourselves as Christians demands that we make a
clear and conscious decision to integrate Christ into every
thread and fibre of the fabric of our lives. While we have
a duty to challenge structural injustices, we must also consider
our own actions and inactions to assist those in need.
Mother Theresas comment on Matthew 25: 31-46 is instructive.
She stated that at the end of our lives we will not be judged
by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have
or how many great things we have done. This Gospel calls us
to justice. We will be judged by our actions: I was
hungry and you gave me to eat etc.
She goes on to say: Hungry, not only for bread, but
hungry for love; naked not only for clothing, but for human
dignity and respect; homeless not only for want of a room
of bricks, but homeless because of rejection. This is Christ
in distressing disguise.
At the event on Sunday I had an opportunity to speak to Auntie
Babsie Blesdell. Her story brought tears to my eyes. She had
been involved in politics with my father in the DLP days.
She was vilified by some because, as an African-Caribbean
woman, she chose to join the DLP and to stand as a candidate
with that party.
Her story reminds me of the way in which some have treated
Jack Warner because he is a member of the UNC, and, indeed,
of attacks against my own integrity in T&T based on my
perceived ethnicity/political affiliation.
It is now nearly 40 years since Auntie Babsie started the
organisation Word of Life which is another group in T&T
that does sterling work in the community. I salute her for
her continued service to humanity.
I was humbled by Auntie Babsies response to the appalling
treatment meted out to her. I am still learning the virtue
of giving people a piece of my heart rather than a piece of
my mindits the mixed blood!
During my recent visit to London Ashton Ford, our cultural
attache in London, invited me to address T&T nationals
at the monthly meeting held at the high commission there.
T&T citizens in the diaspora can and do make valuable
contributions to society here. Keep it up.
Whether one belongs to a faith-based organisation or not,
we should all be committed to serving our communities. George
Daniel, president of the T&T Chapter of Disabled Persons
International, is an excellent example of an individual who
dedicates himself to strive for the rights of the disabled.
Disability Awareness Week commences this Sunday and Mr Daniels
recent contribution to CCSJs monthly TV programmeAsk
Why?demonstrated what a champion he is for justice for
the disabled. The Compendium on the Social Doctrine of the
Catholic Church states that:
Persons with disabilities are fully human subjects,
with rights and duties. In spite of the limitations and sufferings
affecting their bodies and faculties, they point up more clearly
the dignity and greatness of man. Since persons with disabilities
are subjects with all their rights, they are to be helped
to participate in every dimension of family and social life
at every level accessible to them and according to their possibilities.
We cannot live in our communities and ignore the plight of
those in need. Tomorrow we mark the UN International Day for
the Elimination of Violence Against Women. At the end of October
I attended an international conference at the Vatican in Rome
on the theme: Women, Development and Peace. Twenty-two papers
were presented (available for reference at CCSJs office)
on issues such as women and girls in armed conflict; as refugees;
as victims of trafficking, domestic violence and exploitation;
as individuals infected/affected by HIV/Aids and poverty etc.
In spite of the trauma of listening to the various kinds of
violence against women and girls in our world, I left with
a feeling of hope because there were so many women and men
present who are committed to eradicating such violence and
promoting equality for all.
I recall the words of Elie Wiesel: This is the duty
of our generation...solidarity with the weak, the persecuted,
the lonely, the sick, and those in despair. It is expressed
by the desire to give a noble and humanising meaning to a
community in which all members will define themselves not
by their own identity but by that of others.
In April, CCSJ sent a letter to the Minister for Community
Development, Culture and Gender Affairs highlighting our concerns
about certain sections of the draft gender policy and action
plan. A copy was sent to the Prime Minister. At the beginning
of this letter we stated clearly that many aspects of the
draft were positive. We then highlighted areas of concern.
If we are to address issues of equality and equity in our
country, we need appropriate policies and legislation. CCSJ
remains open to dialogue in relation to any revised/new draft
of the aforesaid policy. But policies and legislation are
not enough. Change will come when peoples hearts change.
Then will our practices and procedures change.
In the meantime, lets work to realise Martin Luther
Kings dream of a nation where all our gifts and
resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments
of service for the rest of humanity...of a country where every
man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality.
Leela Ramdeen is Chair of the Catholic Commission for