My name is Athaliah Samuel. I represented Trinidad and Tobago at Miss World in China in August of this year. I am 24 years old and I am from John John, East Dry River—Marcano Quarry Lands to be exact. I grew up there and I have lived here all my life. I live not too far from Picton, Straker Village and Beverly Hills. I played in these streets as a child but things were different then, simpler and more peaceful. Recently, some members from within my community have been killed. I do not know the reason for these wanton acts of violence, I am not here to judge. My heart grieves though for the mothers who have had to bury their sons and the wives who have had to bury their husbands, the children who have had to bury their fathers and it grieves for the loss in particular of Alma Noray, mother of eight who lived in a building not far from where I live. That stray bullet could just as easily have pierced my side and ended my life and I could have become a statistic and a story in the daily newspapers.
I love my community and I am not like many who have become so frightened that they have abandoned their homes and neighbours in search of safety for themselves and for their children. I represented not just my country on the world’s stage in front of 2 billion people, but my community as well. There are proud young men and women here with abundant talent and skill. I competed in China so that they too would one day have the chance that I had—the chance to show their true beauty and true worth. The journey for me was not easy—many from right here in Trinidad and Tobago called me ugly and said I was the wrong choice. Yet, in the face of this adversity I held on to my dignity and my pride, kept my head up and did my job. My work, in a real sense, did not end on that stage on August 18, but it has in fact, only just begun. I have a duty, an obligation to the people of my community who embraced me and supported me throughout my five weeks in Mongolia. I have a responsibility also to the people of Trinidad and Tobago to use my title to make an impact. I never wanted to become one of those beauty queens that look good, say nothing and attend galas on the arms of handsome escorts. The title of Miss T&T World is one which must be taken seriously. The time to roll up my sleeves and get to work is now.
My brothers in John John, Beverly Hills, Picton, Straker Village, Morvant and Laventille, end the violence, end the warfare! Set aside your differences and learn to forgive. Many of you are fathers, some of you are husbands, all of you are sons. Think about the ones you leave behind to mourn your loss. Think about how much more difficult their lives would be without you. There are many who will make empty promises, there are many who will claim to have the solutions. This is life. We have largely been ignored and now marginalised but we must not let others steal our dignity and our pride. Look out upon your community, look at your brothers and feel compassion. Put down the guns. Yes, the struggle is hard, yes you look on in amazement while the rich grow richer and your labours are rewarded with minimum wage. Yes, you even stare in amazement while those who have stolen millions are allowed to go free and your friend who has stolen $20 to feed his family is thrown in jail. The struggle is bitter and hard, but throughout this struggle we must seek the face of God and we must lead by example. We must instil in our children the virtues and principles of our ancestors. These very virtues and principles set us apart from others and make us who we are, a proud and noble people. People of John John, Laventille and environs, I, your humble daughter, am calling upon you to unite, put down the guns and let peace reign. I beg of you, stop now before we have to bury another young son; stop now so that your children may play in the streets as we once did, in peace and safety. Let good sense prevail, please stop!
Miss T&T World 2012
Marcano Quarry Lands
John John, East Dry River