For World Social Work Day, we recognise and celebrate the work of these heroes who dedicate their lives to helping others. This year’s theme is Ubuntu – “I am, because you are.” In this mini-series, we explore how this type of love and commitment positively transforms lives.
Case Officers at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Trinidad and Tobago (BBBSTT) are all social workers, because of the core skills and tools they possess to help guide and support healthy mentorship relationships. They work closely with other Social Workers and Guidance Councillors at schools and Community Residences to ensure that young people benefit from the opportunities available to them.
We are grateful for their dedication and support of youth development through mentorship. Heroes is proud to be the host organisation for BBBSTT, an official affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters International.
31st October 2020 – Port-of-Spain. Over 400 secondary school students were given an opportunity to imagine themselves as manufacturers and regional traders as they listened intently to President Franka Costelloe and Director Roger Roach of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA) speak about the work and activities of the sector. The occasion was the Heroes of Manufacturing webinar at the 2020 Trade and Investment Convention (TIC) on Friday.
Jointly hosted by the Heroes Foundation (Heroes) and the TTMA, students were given a helicopter view of the Manufacturing Sector from Franka Costelloe, and some practical insights about the world of trade and industry from the TTMA Director and CEO of Lazuri Apparel, Roger Roach.
Costelloe highlighted the challenges presented by Covid-19 and its impact on lives and livelihood of persons employed in the sector. She also shared strategies that the Association has implemented to recover market share and to increase regional exports. Explaining TTMA’s Manufacturing Strategy to increase local production and double exports, she emphasised the role of young entrepreneurs and SME’s in market expansion.
Respected for her data-driven conversations, the young businesswoman shared the numbers on the size and scale of the sector and how manufacturing and non-energy exports contribute to GDP. The context met with several questions from the young audience, many curious for information on capital sourcing, business planning, and mentorship. In pointing them to resources, Costelloe also explained that “Good Business models are built on creativity and risk.” She said, “Young, fresh, innovative minds are best equipped to give us fresh new ideas and they have the guts to pursue their dreams. It is up to us, to boost that confidence and inspiration. We can do so through mentorship, internships, training, and providing opportunities.”
Roger Roach challenged the students to pursue the opportunities that exist and not be daunted by the current challenges to global trade. Risk, obstacles, and failure are part of the road to success, he explained. “You have to be able to identify demand and act on that opportunity quickly.” In sharing the advantage of moving quickly on ideas, he gave the Lazuri experience. “We decided last December to set up a garment manufacturing facility. We did the research, bought machinery, hired staff, began testing in March, and then COVID hit.” Faced with the option of closing down the new operation, Roach told the audience that he partnered with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) through the TTMA to develop a stylish branded facemask with a high filtration rate, and was able to pivot operations to mask production.
Inspired by the advice from Roach and Costelloe, Lutchmi Beharry, a budding entrepreneur from Parvati Girls’ Hindu College is now more confident about her own plans. “The advice given was very realistic and it didn’t scare me. It excited me even more because now I’m clearer on what to expect. I like that.”
Heroes CEO, Lawrence Arjoon described the session as a dynamic exchange of ideas between generations. “At Heroes, we connect youth with industry leaders and experts who generously share their insights and expertise so that our nation’s youth can take us beyond where we are at today. Today, Franka and Roger have helped bring these young participants one step closer to their dreams; and we are now one step closer to growing the base of Proudly T&T manufacturers, entrepreneurs, and global exporters.”
Monday 5th October, 2020, Port-of-Spain: The Heroes Foundation (Heroes) a registered not-for-profit organisation is helping to bridge the digital divide through their newly launched Student Support Centre, where students can get technical support, use computers, or access the internet if needed. Heroes also distributed 10 tablets to students in their programmes and is working with programme sponsors to provide more support to students in need.
Heroes CEO, Lawrence Arjoon commented, “All of our programmes and activities are now delivered digitally, and most of our team works remotely, so our office has a lot of space. Students can come in for assistance by making appointments thought their Programme Coordinators, adhering to all the COVID-19 guidelines. We have also included modules on managing the digital transition into our programmes to help students understand and leverage technology in their everyday lives.”
Heroes works with over 500 youth participants ages 11 – 17 in the Heroes Development Programme (HDP) and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Trinidad and Tobago (BBBSTT). These programmes were traditionally delivered in-person in schools, community residences, and corporate workplaces. They are all now delivered online using Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom to over 70% of programme participants, or via phone calls, as some students are still not online.
Jeannelle Forbes, an HDP student from Woodbrook Secondary School, in sharing her experiences, noted, “There wasn’t much going on over the past few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it was getting a bit boring locked up at home. Heroes helped by doing lots of online activities with us and exposing us to learning in a new way. When school reopened online, I thought the transition from face-to-face to online classes was very easy because the past months with Heroes helped me to get accustomed to the online interaction, and I am very grateful for that.”
Heroes rolled out two new Corporate Workplace Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorship programmes in September after moving the application, enrolment, screening, and matching processes online. The organisation also rolled out a digital Migrant Heroes Development Programme in August that targets 150 Spanish-speaking migrant youth living in Trinidad in collaboration with Living Water Community and TTV Solidarity Network with funding from the Pan-American Development Foundation (PADF). The next step for Heroes is to roll out its new digital platform in the coming weeks to allow more people to access the organisation’s activities.
Arjoon explained, “A fundamental part of the Heroes development model is to connect youth with leaders and role-models who want to contribute to youth development by providing positive and experienced guidance for dealing with life’s issues and challenges. We plan to do that digitally going forward, and to continue to empower the youth of Trinidad and Tobago as the world continues to change around us.”
Heroes Foundation brings fresh perspectives to Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Future
The Heroes Foundation (Heroes) along with the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago (ECTT) has culminated months of work by the youth of Trinidad and Tobago into a comprehensive report that sets out recommendations for Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Future. The report is based upon intense discussions and extensive deliberations which were held at the Heroes of Energy Youth Forum as part of the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference in February 2020.
Over four hundred secondary school students from across the country explored and debated energy sustainability and a greener industry with energy stalwarts, senior business leaders, energy professionals, and government officials. The bright, young minds delved into the history of Trinidad and Tobago’s growth as a world-class energy player and explored current challenges, while facilitated session stimulated ideas reflective of modern critical thinking, a youthful intolerance for “business as usual”, and a bold articulation of the future that our youth want for themselves.
The Report captures extensive details of the youth collaboration and highlights the rich exchange of ideas, which include:
The need for more accessible information on the energy sector and specifically renewables and conservation opportunities.
The need for greater clarity on the benefits, opportunities, and potential implementation challenges associated with diversifying into renewable energy sources.
Greater engagement of the youth population in the energy discourse with access to sector leaders and energy professionals to stimulate interest in careers in energy and inclusive dialogue on industry potential.
The establishment of nationwide youth cohorts to research, create, and share information on energy, water conservation and efficiency, climate change and climate action in schools, homes, and communities.
Leveraging social media to inspire and engage youth interests in energy via messages, art, skits, and presentations to raise awareness.
Challenge to government to consider a number of actions for positive action against climate change impacts, including changes to the education curriculum to include energy and climate change; incentives for using renewable energy by capturing wind and hydro power from rivers and seas to generate electricity.
A challenge to the Heroes Foundation to consider an education and awareness programme as a focus for action.
In launching the report, the Heroes Foundation CEO, Lawrence Arjoon said, “I believe that an important part of our work at the Foundation, is in youth engagement and education. We must harness passion and steer it into action. This is why we are actively working on a number of new partnerships with the private sector to convert these ideas into reality.”