Healing T&T one value at a time
“I think we’ve lost respect for one another and we need to bring it back. This is what values mean to me, we need to respect and love one another”.
These were the words of an eleven year old student of the Rancho Quemado Government Primary School, as she spoke to Trinity employees following the Company’s 2014 United Way National Day of Caring (NDOC) project. It was around 10a.m. on Monday 19th May, 2014 and the conversation was taking place on the steps of an outside classroom which had been constructed by Trinity volunteers the day before. The brilliant sunshine and wind blowing through the trees added to the celebratory, yet reflective mood at the school.
The Trinity representatives looked around at the result of the hard work gone into beautifying the school, but the sense of fulfilment went beyond what was immediately visible.
On Sunday 18th May, Trinity launched its Values Campaign, one aspect of a continuous program of activities geared towards instilling and promoting values throughout society. So what is behind the concept? It’s simple really but the philosophy touches the core of who we are as individuals.
Values could be described as principles or standards of behaviour, or one’s judgement of what is important in life. Trinity’s values project is based on the premise that transformation of our society is possible, and whilst it is no easy task, together we can “Heal T&T one value at a time”. It is a process that has to start from within, and one which the Trinity team describes as “the man in the mirror concept”. In other words, to be a positive influence on society, we must be able to look in the mirror and say, “change starts with me”.
This is something close to the heart of Trinity’s former Chief Executive Officer, who believed that, “As individuals, we need to look in the mirror and take responsibility for our actions, each of us has the ability to become the change we want to see in the Trinidad & Tobago. Doing nothing is no longer an option, so let us put our own insecurities aside for the common good, stop the ole talk, and just do it!”
So armed with tools and a vision, and with quite a bit of creativity in the mix, about 150 Trinity volunteers (staff, their families, friends and contractors) rolled into Rancho Quemado. The quiet, picturesque village in South Trinidad is one in which Trinity currently operates, and the relationship with the school was established in 2013 when a team of employees repainted and refurbished the compound. As such, the NDOC values project was a natural synergy, and Trinity wanted to do something that would encourage the students and staff to wholeheartedly make values a way of life.
One goal was to remind them to keep their values firmly in sight and the idea of “values plants” was born. Trinity hired a professional landscaper to beautify the entire school’s compound and this included potted plants, each with a different value label. The pots had labels such as love, respect, commitment and honesty, and the plan was to make the students responsible for the plants and “nurture the values”.
Creativity was at its peak as well and Trinity commissioned an artist to design a “values wall”. Staff volunteers worked along with the paining of the mural which became a highlight of the NDOC project. The end result is a colourful montage of images and words that attract and inspire the viewer, hopefully become a talking point for not only the students, but for the entire village as well.
In addition to the values wall, the plants and the landscaping, the Trinity volunteers also cleaned the entire perimeter of the school, the grounds, painted the external walls, painted some of the classrooms, refurbished the staff kitchen and built an outside classroom under the trees.
The next day, Trinity representatives journeyed once again to Rancho to unveil the wall and talk to the children about the importance of values. School Principal, Vashti Ratiram-Maharaj, who was one of the pioneers of the project, reminded the children of how important it was to try to do the right thing at home and at school.
Today the Rancho Quemado Government Primary School looks very different, and whilst the appearance is important, it is the unseen which really gives meaning to the concept of making a difference. When a child says that her life will now be different because she understands what it means to love and respect her classmates, that’s when true ripples of change begin. As Mahatma Ghandi says, “Your habits become your values, your values become your destiny”.