It took tremendous courage for David Sancaro, 17, to stand up for the rights of a woman who was being assaulted in the street at Dow Village in July. For his bravery, David paid dearly. He lost his life in the most vicious way imaginable. But yesterday, his relatives collected a posthumous National Award on his behalf.
Today we celebrate this year’s honorees, including David. In a society where the problem of violence against women remains endemic, his example is a beacon of inspiration. David showed how all of us should be concerned with doing what is right, regardless of our gender. He reminded us of the fact that men too, have a role to play in being advocates for change even in matters such as this.
What is all the more remarkable about this deeply tragic incident was the fact that instead of staying on the sidelines, David (and two other individuals accompanying him home on that fateful Sunday evening) became involved. Instead of reaching for a smart phone and recording and then posting the video on social media later, they bravely faced what was in front of them.
It is all too easy to be cynical in today’s social media world. Just yesterday, a video of a youth being beaten unconscious in Port of Spain continued to circulate. That video is now under police investigation. Of course no person should be reckless when confronted with a dangerous situation. But too often there are instances where people decline to offer assistance to someone, instead opting to press the record button. We are in need of more Good Samaritans.
We also recognize the three recipients of the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago: Calypso Rose, Professor Courtenay Bartholomew and Dr Lenny Saith. All have, in diverse ways, been of service to this nation.
In the case of Rose, her award is long overdue. It comes on the heels of what has been a spectacular year for her in which she was already garlanded with the Victoires de la Musique - World Music Album of the Year award. Her hit, ‘Leave Me Alone’, also became an anthem for women’s rights this year.
Bartholomew’s award comes after years of service to the nation, particularly at the Medical Research Centre. Not only has he played a role in HIV/AIDS research, Prof Bartholomew has also been an unflinching advocate of accountability in the medial profession with regard to the ethical treatment of HIV/AIDS patients who face deep stigma and discrimination in society and who are not protected under the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act.
Saith served in the Fourth and Eighth Parliaments as a Senator under administrations of Patrick Manning. He acted as Prime Minister on several occasions and held portfolios such as Minister of Public Administration and Information, Minister of Energy and Energy Industries and Minister of Planning and Development.
He played a key role in establishing Trintoplan and worked as a construction engineer at the Ministry of Works while it constructed the Lady Young Road, the Beetham Highway, the Solomon Hochoy Highway and the Churchill Roosevelt Highway.
Saith’s award may draw some criticism in our highly divisive political climate, but this should not distract from his service to Trinidad and Tobago. Whatever one’s political preference, this is what we need more of: professionals who are willing to take the plunge and to work to improve the nation as a whole.
The awardees this year are a reminder of how this can be done in a wide variety of ways. No one is too small, no gesture too little in the grand scheme of things.