Sunday 21st September, 2008

Derren Joseph
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Each can make a difference

Through a project of the Morris Marshall Foundation, I met Terrence Caesar. What interests me about Terrence is that he is committed to making a positive difference in his chosen area, which is working with young people.

During the day, Terrence is a teacher at La Veronica RC School in Lopinot. He has been a teacher for the past 16 years (including being Teacher of the Year in 2007-2008) and before that he was a police officer for five years.

Outside of work, however, Terrence is involved in scouting, but not just as a leader. He also serves as deputy National Scout Commissioner, responsible for planning and development.

He is involved in the youth group at his church in Tunapuna, and serves on the board of the Eternal Light Community Vocational School in Tunapuna.

The Eternal Light Community Vocational School is a non-profit educational organisation whose mission is to “provide a holistic and well-rounded learning experience to its students.”

Collective responsibility

In practice, this means that they work with children with emotional or learning challenges that make mainstream schooling difficult.

Catering to approximately 100 students, the school was officially opened in December, 2005, and offers courses including masonry, plumbing, clothing design, music, home economics, craft, small business management, screen printing, English, mathematics, drama, computer literacy, woodwork, electronics, cosmetology, art, literature, morals and ethics, machine shop, tiling, welding and agriculture.

The school is working with the Ministry of Education towards being officially “recognised,” and, therefore, being able to benefit from more government support.

Kudos to the team at the Ministry of Education for encouraging these types of projects.

Terrence believes the three biggest issues facing young people today are a lack of respect by adults, a lack of guidance and a lack of confidence.

As a result, we have young people who may appear to be “normal,” but who are actually “walking time bombs.”

Most adults may have little idea of the struggles that many of these young people face daily. Furthermore, whereas communities once took collective responsibility for raising children, this is no longer the case.

We spoke about teaching, and Terrence explained that he did not believe in good teachers and bad teachers. Instead, there were teachers and imposters, because true teaching was a calling and a way of life.

It was not only about getting children to memorise facts.

In terms of crime, Terrence prefers to focus on what “I as an individual am doing,” as opposed to only what the Government may or may not be doing.

He firmly believes that our daily actions with children help determine whether they will be the next “bandits.”

Terrence jokes that his motives are actually selfish, in that he believes that by treating the children he meets well, they would become the future adults who would help him, rather than rob him, when he becomes a senior citizen.

What I like about Terrence is that despite the challenges he sees in his work with young people, he is not a complainer. He believes that each of us can make a difference if we choose to.

Terrence considers himself to be blessed with an ability to interact with children. As such, it is his responsibility to continue doing what he can for as long as he is able to.

Too political

In terms of Vision 2020, efforts like Terrence’s would fall under “developing innovative people” and “nurturing a caring society.”

A couple Fridays ago, I was talking to my good friend Daryl about, among other things, Vision 2020.

In his typical diplomatic and sensitive way, he hinted that to him, the document or the concept was too “political.”

I took some time to really reflect on his point. Perhaps, he is right and many would probably agree with him. But my other friend Anthony Clarke’s position is that he has yet to meet someone who has read the document and still disagrees with the overall vision.

Regardless, there are some really admirable ideas in that draft document— especially the sections that support integrated approaches to youth development as well as the work of community-based organisations and non-governmental organisations.

It is important to support initiatives such as those Terrence Caesar supports as we all move towards Vision 2020.

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