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Community centre opens after 35 years
The 35-year wait for a community centre ended on Wednesday for residents of Jerningham Junction, Cunupia.
At a cost of $6.2 million to the State, the facility is equipped with a computer lab, general purpose room, a training kitchen, changing rooms and teak flooring for the stage among other modern amenities not traditionally found in similar community centres in T&T.
Community Development Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters declared the centre opened shortly after 4 pm and urged the residents to not only fully utilise the centre, but to also build a strong community. He said the community centre was key to this objective.
“As the nation is advancing, we are losing our sense of community, the essence of our lives in years gone by,” Peters said in his address.
He expressed the hope that the moulding of strong resilient communities would be boosted by his ministry’s community centre refurbishment programme.
Peters told members of the quiet agricultural and business community in central Trinidad that community life is more than simply living next to each other. He said “community” meant a group of people holding similar values who interact with each other and have a strong degree of cohesiveness.
Over the years, he said, it was recognised that many community centres were not fully utilised and it was decided that a voluntary management committee would be put in place to ensure maximum participation.
Peters said full-time staff would also be employed at community centres.
“Community meeting places must be accessible to all people in the community,” he said.
Peters, a product of the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy competition, urged the residents to pass on the society’s oral traditions.
“We are losing it (oral traditions) and losing our folk lives for a life alien to us,” he said.
He urged the older people to have discussions with the young, informing them of the legendary folk characters and rich folklore of T&T.
Peters made reference to many people who now celebrate Halloween and many of whom have forgotten La Toussaint (All Souls and All Saints’ Days in which the dead are remembered.)
In a one-on-one interview with the T&T Guardian after the official ceremony, when asked if the structure of the Best Village competition would changed to attract younger generations to participate, Peters said several innovations are expected in the near future.
“You are going to see a resurgence because in 50 years you will see a lot of different things and thereafter a whole lot of innovation,” he said.
“You cannot keep it the same way, the world is evolving. T&T is evolving and so the structure of Best Village has to evolve along with it. You might see some technological things inside of there. But in all that, what we are going to continue to do is to reflect the development of the villages.”
Peters said another new community centre is also expected to be opened in Cocorite and approximately four or five more modern community centres will be built in other districts.
Three outstanding members of the Jerningham Junction community were given tokens of appreciation for their service and among them was Ejaz Ali, owner of Low Cost Supermarket.
Deputy mayor of Chaguanas, councillor Gopaul Boodhan, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Community Development Donna Ferraz and Susan Corbett, director of community development were among those present at Wednesday’s function.
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