My son Kyle’s first word was “Car”. His second word was “Bang”. So I’m hoping this isn’t a harbinger of things to come.
Vision on Mission (VOM), the ex-prisoner rehabilitation organisation, continues to ride the wave of success. Formed within the prison walls by ex-inmate Wayne Chance, the organisation has every reason to celebrate. Despite being ostracised by some in society, including other non-governmental organisations (NGO), VOM is leading the way.
The organisation emerged victorious last Saturday when it copped the prestigious JB Fernandes Award at Hyatt Regency Hotel where the T&T NGO Professionals Conference was held. Beating out several other competitors for excellence, improving communities and utilising best practices in non-profit management, the organisation walked away with the award and the US$5,000 prize.
An award, Chance, the chief executive officer, deemed far-fetched when the organisation was established 13 years ago. The event was sponsored by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and funded by the JB Memorial Trust.
The new accolade, Chance said, is testimony that dreams can become a reality.
Still basking in the glory, Chance said: “The award was beyond my expectation. Words cannot express how I felt when my organisation was announced as the overall winner of the competition. It is a feeling words cannot explain. “Receiving such an award from a highly respected organisation further validates VOM’s work and in particular the clients we serve.
“We hope that winning this award will help raise the visibility of VOM, as well as the pressing needs of our community of ex-prisoners, youths and socially displaced members of T&T.” In bestowing the title on the organisation, Luisa Fernandes Chapman, a member of the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust said: “We are firm in our conviction that civil society organisations can play a pivotal role in creating new models for social change in T&T.”
Chance said the board has a vital role to play in the organisation’s success. “We are a team at VOM. We ensure that all our business is conducted across the board. We dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. “We are very careful because society is only waiting for an error to ridicule the organisation. “We do not take any chances. We ensure that everything is accounted for. We ensure that all our checks and balances are up to standard.”
As the organisation continues to expand, the completion of a two-acre agricultural facility is on the cards. The goal is to provide employment opportunities for approximately 100 ex-inmates. It is expected to include livestock rearing and aqua farming of tilapia.
“It is no turning back now. It is forward ever, backward never. VOM is an organisation with a purpose, and that purpose is to give people a second chance to turn around their lives. Everyone deserves a second chance in life,” Chance said.
Special recognition awards were also given to the following NGOs:
• Adult Literacy Tutors Association
• The Cotton Tree Foundation
• Mamatoto Resource and Birth Centre
• Roxborough Police Youth Club
Operating from its main office out of San Juan, the organisation caters for approximately 800 ex-inmates annually at its transit centre in Champs Fleurs. Ex-inmates are enrolled in a rigid six to eight-month rehabilitation programme in preparation for their return to society. The organisation is also set to open another facility to cater for female ex-inmates.