A gift forUncle Carlos

THE FIVE girls didn’t think much of their act of kindness. But they should. Jurshelle Andrews, Chelsea Jacob, Rene Rampersad, Britney Woods, and Tia-Marie Dellamore wanted to put a smile on the face of the street-dweller they knew as Uncle Carlos. Instead, they put a smile on all of our faces.

“I talk to him on a regular basis,” Andrews told Newsday. “One day last week I was coming from Rituals. He told me Tuesday was his birthday, so I got together with my friends to plan the party.” The girls put many adults to shame. Their kindness is an example all should emulate.

In dark times when a litany of problems—ranging from violence to child abuse—continue to horrify us, their gesture is a bright spot. We, therefore, take this opportunity to commend these students of Woodbrook Secondary School as well as their teachers and parents. As simple as their gesture of singing Happy Birthday to Uncle Carlos was, it has given us a reason to hope. We encourage more acts like this.

School is a good place to learn about the power of compassion. Acting principal Wendell Pujadas said he was not surprised that the school’s students were so kind, as the school’s value system prioritises respect, integrity, caring, honesty and fair play.

“We are very proud of this innocent and civic-minded act of kindness. In a society like Trinidad, where we are void of empathy and compassion, it’s great to see our students are so kind,” Pujadas said.

All of it is in stark contrast to the instances of violence in schools that have often dominated the headlines. Recently, video footage of a verbal confrontation among students of Queen’s Royal College circulated reminding us of the problem of bullying in classrooms.

The boys captured in that video, some of whom were issuing homophobic taunts and others using foul language, would do well to look to the example set by these five young women who have demonstrated one of the most powerful forces on the planet: empathy.

Perhaps Pujadas is right when he laments the lack of compassion in our country. The high rate of murder, the large number of street-dwellers, the problems patients encounter at hospitals, the poor quality of service in the public and private sector, the hateful positions often taken by cultural and religious figures—all suggest we have lost sight of the most basic of tenets of decency.

Not so for these girls. In the same spirit, the State urgently needs to fast-track its plans to deal with street-dwellers and to rehabilitate the Riverside Car Park. The idea of a centralised venue where street-dwellers can go to receive assistance is laudable but only if such a centre is properly equipped. We must devote the resources needed to help our vulnerable citizens


"A gift forUncle Carlos"

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