Standing on a bridge, I was looking across the river Thames at the Houses of Parliament (gothic, statuesque over this city 900 years after it was built as a palace for Edward the Confessor) when...
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A call to serve
In mid 2015 Sister Theresa Vialva, was on her way to Port-of-Spain, at her wits end, thinking that she had exhausted every pos-sibility in her search for furniture for use by the students of Holy Faith Convent, Couva.
In what she can only describe as an interven-tion from God, she re-membered Clive Pantin and the work of FEEL and decided to detour in to Fernandes Industrial Centre to see if she could find the organization. After driving around the compound, she was ad-vised that FEEL had re-located. Eventually she found the organization, but found out that Mr. Pantin was retired. The CEO, Mrs. Elena Villafa-na-Sylvester came out of her office to ask how she could help. This was the start of a new relation-ship that has borne fruit, not only for the students of Holy Faith, but for students of over twenty primary and secondary schools.
According to Mrs. Vil-lafana-Sylvester, based on the feedback from Sister Theresa and dis-cussions with principals at other schools, FEEL began its school support programme. “We started small at first, with only thirteen schools, but that has more than doubled this year. Schools ben-efit from a wide range of support including school furniture, cleaning sup-plies, toiletries, station-ery, sports and music equipment.”
These are the most recent examples in a long history of work-ing in education. In the past FEEL has worked with companies such as Phoenix Park Gas to build and outfit school libraries and Shell to donate school books and supplies. FEEL has also outfitted computer labs and provided music equipment to a number of schools. And now FEEL is ready to do even more.
In schools such as Holy Faith Convent which has implemented the Carib-bean Vocational Quali-fication (CVQ) to in-crease the technical and entrepreneurial skills of its students, FEEL has offered assistance in the form of sewing machines, agriculture, cricket, football and dance equipment. Now Holy Faith is positioned to expand its services to the wider community of Couva and environs so that parents of its school popu-lation can learn new skills. Ac-cording to Sr. Theresa and Mrs. Villafana-Sylvester both organi-sations are aligned in their belief in the need to build the human re-source capacity of the nation.T
abaquite R.C. has taken full advantage of its relationship with FEEL to expand the Agriculture programme at the school. Ac-cording to Mr. Woods, a teacher at the school, the excitement of the children is energizing. Now with support from FEEL, the school has added gas tillers and a water pump to its arsenal of agricul-tural tools to enhance and expand its capacity. “At Tabaquite R.C. we grow almost everything – to-matoes, peppers, pimentos and we even rear chickens,” says Mr. Woods.
At the distribution of school supplies for the start of the new school term we caught up with the principals of Cumuto Presby-terian, MonteVideo Government Primary and Exchange R.C. all waiting to load their trucks with supplies from the FEEL ware-house. In addition to primary and secondary schools, preschools, homework centres and other in-stitutions supporting learning and development also receive do-nations of school supplies.
“Most important we deal with salvation.
”Those were the words of Pastor Paul Dalipsingh as he spoke with Guardian Media about some of the work his church, Living Abid-ing Word Ministry, does in Cara-po, Arima.
The church was established in 2010 and three years ago joined forces with FEEL to increase its capacity to serve the people of his community which is plagued with unemployed and single parent households. According to Pastor Dalipsingh it is not unusual for children here to leave home with-out a meal, “no breakfast before they leave home and nothing to eat when they return”.
Located on Simon Road, the church provides a variety of ser-vices to the less fortunate mem-bers of the community, key among them is food. On almost a monthly basis, the Ministry re-ceives bulk supplies of food stuff from FEEL. Each distribution the items vary between 100lb bags of rice, 100lb bags of beans and cas-es of rice soy meal. They have also received cake and bread mixes and the list goes on. Pastor Dalipingh said, that since the programmes commenced, at least 800 people from Carapo and surrounding ar-eas have benefitted.In
Tobago, St. Patrick’s Angli-can Church also prepares and dis-tributes food hampers to families in need. However Word of Life Prayer Community in Arima and Friends of Holy Cross in Princes Town, use the food supplied by FEEL to prepare cooked meals for members of their community.
Since the start of 2017 FEEL has already distributed 200,000 lbs of rice and 100,000 lbs of beans to organisations working to feed the poor in communities across Trinidad and Tobago.
But FEEL is not only focussed on importing food donations from abroad but is also working in communities and at schools to support agriculture projects and programmes. With assistance from Massy Stores and its Run for Food Programme, FEEL is do-nating agriculture supplies to all of the civil society organisations and schools supported by FEEL to support food production ini-tiatives. These supplies include forks, rakes, hoes, shovels, cut-lasses, files, tillers, water pumps and rubber boots.
FEEL Business and Employment Solutions1
0 years ago, Lucia Wilkie Ar-chibald began turning her dream of helping people in her depressed community of Gonzales into a re-ality.
Along with 5 other people she formed the Gonzales and Beyond Foundation.
“This is my heart’s desire and I believe this dream is not just the feeding of the people, it is to give back to my community, that is why I enjoy it because it was a dream that I had and I just want to fulfill it.
”5 years later her foundation sub-mitted a proposal to FEEL which was approved and since then the less fortunate people it served be-gan receiving monthly help in the form of food and clothes.
However, the assistance didn’t end there. Gonzales and Beyond wanted to make people self-suffi-cient, so in 2013 they approached FEEL for assistance with a sew-ing programme. FEEL donated 30 sewing machines and 5 comput-ers to add to what it already had and this opened up a world of op-portunities to individuals in the community.
One of the persons who ben-efitted from this programme was Mrs. Jennifer Boucher. For 37 years Mrs. Boucher was a house-wife who depended on the income of her husband. Now in her re-tirement years she is able to earn an income that helps to support her family. When Mrs. Boucher completed the sewing course she received a sewing machine from FEEL. She uses this to make cur-tains, bed sheets, cushion covers, placemats and many other items. She is so well known in her com-munity that she is able to pass on her skills to her daughter as well as train her 22 year old neighbour.
In offering advice to others Mrs. Boucher, now 68 years old says, “it is never too late to try some-thing new, learn to do something, learn to sew, learn something, try to make something better. I don’t want us to be depressed in our community. You do not have to wait for a job with government, you can employ yourself.
”In Caparo and Laventille the stories are similar. Mission for Christ and In the MeanTime ran sewing and cooking courses re-spectively, in their communities with the support of FEEL. Ac-cording to Ms. Janice John of In the MeanTime, “We helped many single mothers learn to plan low cost healthy meals and a few of them have gone on to start their own businesses. We just couldn’t do it without the help of FEEL!”
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