Last update: 11-Dec-2013 6:16 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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The other side of Beetham Gardens
Every morning, Monday to Friday, scores of residents of Beetham Gardens, Laventille, head out of their community to work in variety and hardware stores, households, offices or in a range of business places.
Yet others have developed skills, including masonry, carpentry, tiling and plumbing. In addition, many Beethamites can be seen in the community itself working on Cepep and Unemployment Relief Programme projects. Regrettably, many of the residents, in applying for jobs outside of Beetham, have had to adopt the tactic of providing non-Beetham addresses as they have found in all too many instances that prospective employers on hearing that they were from Beetham had been reluctant to hire them.
But they were and are determined to forge ahead and to achieve upward mobility both for themselves and their children. Others work out of their homes making pies and sandwiches and preparing chicken and chips for sale, or in the case of many women, serve as seamstresses and hairdressers. Indeed, several of the resident seamstresses have been making uniforms over the years for girls attending the All In One Child Development Centre, a preschool at Phase Five, Beetham Gardens.
Parents of All In One preschoolers would meet regularly with the principal, Mrs Charmaine Anderson, and other teachers after classes to discuss their children’s progress and/or shortcomings. This would require teachers having to stay back hours after the preschool had knocked off in order to accommodate the parents, many of whom work in eight-to-four jobs outside of Beetham.
While it may prove an inconvenience on occasion, for the teachers, nonetheless, it is a plus not only for All In One and the parents but the children as well.
Through the years many graduates of the All In One Child Development Centre have gone on to Success Laventille RC, Belmont Boys’ RC, St Ursula’s, Nelson Streets Boys and Girls Schools, Bethlehem Boys and Bethlehem Girls and Duncan Street Primary, among others.
Unfortunately, the prejudice against youths and adults living in Beetham Gardens has been extended to five-year-olds and this year four of the children graduating from the All In One Child Development Centre in July were denied entry into primary schools, not because of their grades, which have been good, but because they resided at Beetham Gardens.
Indeed, on several occasions in past years, parents for fear of their children being rejected for admission to certain primary schools, found it prudent to give non-Beetham addresses. For the record I am a member of the Board of All In One and had served for several years between 1998 and 2006.
The determination of many in Beetham Gardens to forge ahead has been compromised by the inexcusable violence and other horrible minuses of all too many in the community. An undeniable part of the problem flows from many of the disaffected youths in Beetham Gardens being either illegal immigrants or the children of illegal immigrants. Under T&T’s Education Act a child seeking admission to a state or state-assisted school either has to be born in this country or had his position regularised.
In all too many cases, whether or not the children had been born here, their parents had been illegal immigrants. These parents, who were illegal immigrants, were afraid to seek to have their children, although they (the children) were born here, registered at state or state-assisted schools, for fear of their immigration status being revealed and their being deported. As a result, a sizeable number of children in Beetham Gardens never received a formal education and some can neither read nor write.
In turn, a few only began the learning process at adult education classes. There are other contributory factors to the untoward behaviour, not only in Beetham Gardens, but in other communities. But I have strayed.
There are scores of people in Beetham Gardens who are committed to improving their proverbial lot in life and, as noted earlier, have taken needed steps to achieve this. Increasingly, more young men and women in Beetham Gardens, guided by the thinking of positive parents and/or guardians and genuine friends, are seeking out skills training programmes. They should be encouraged.
Beetham Gardens is not only about violence and the nation should seek to stimulate an increase in good in Beetham, rather than focus on the negatives.
George F Alleyne
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