President Paula-Mae Weekes says there must be a concentrated effort to build civic-mindedness among young people if T&T has to have a secure future.
Speaking at the Rapid Fire Children’s Foundation annual dinner and Dutch auction held at the Achiever’s Banquet Hall on Saturday night, Weekes commended the foundation for working with underprivileged children by providing free eyeglasses, medical clinics, career fairs and recreational opportunities.
However, she called on the foundation to incorporate civic-minded programmes into their activities.
“Every programme you put in place should aim to incorporate a heavy component of citizen building. It must be deliberately integrated into programmes in order to have maximum impact and produce the change with young people,” Weekes said.
“Rapid Fire has stepped up and filled gaps in the social fabric, buffered poverty and hardship, where there was a lack of proper guidance and monitorship. However, you can have well-nurtured persons hard-working and productive who have failed completely to grasp the essence of what it means to be a good citizen,” she said.
Weekes said the Office of the President had started a programme with Form One students aimed at teaching them what it means to become a good citizen.
“I am confident that if we as a nation are relentless in the pursuit of our goal to instil a sense of civic pride we will create a generation of industrious people who commit to taking ownership of their country,” she said. Weekes added, “You are investing in the next generation and the returns will go beyond mere poverty alleviation,” she added.
Meanwhile, President of the FoundationKevin Ratiram said he was concerned about low rates of adoption among the children who live in children homes and orphanages across the country.
Ratiram said statistics from the Children’s Authority show that there are 651 children living in over 40 children homes.
“Between May 2015 and June 2019, 33 adoption orders were granted by the court. This means in four years about eight children per year were legally adopted in T&T,” Ratiram added. He also said it seems some people were reluctant to adopt children from homes.
“Why is it we consider children in these homes to be inferior. Why is it they are not good enough to receive our love? Parents, the time has come for us to acknowledge and understand that they are not inferior, not damaged goods but they are the future of T&T.
If we don’t do our part to raise care and nurture them, then tomorrow many will become statistics.” he said.
During the function, guests were treated to a modelling show and a dutch auction of autographed bats from cricket legends Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar.