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Tuesday 20 August 2019
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Oropune youths witness sea rescue on way to Tobago

ISIAH CHARLES, 13, simply could not get over the bravery of those involved in Tuesday's rescue of four fishermen on board a small pirogue while he and his friends were sailing to Tobago on the T&T Spirit.

"That rescue was tremendous. It was nothing I had ever seen before, except on TV. The people on the small boat appeared to be drowning, but those from our boat (T&T Spirit) moved real fast. A lot of us were watching, anxious and worried, but thank God they were all rescued and no one got hurt or died. I am glad because it would have made our trip real sad, to start off like that," said an outspoken Charles, a Form Two student at St Joseph Secondary.

According to news reports, the crew of the T&T Spirit, the ferry used to transport passengers and goods between the islands, had to go to the rescue of four people in a small pirogue whose engine had failed just off the coast of Maracas Bay on Tuesday evening. The ferry was en route to Tobago when its captain received a distress call

The rescue exercise resulted in the ferry docking in Scarborough a few hours later than scheduled.

Iyoka De Freitas, 16, a Form Four student at Caribbean Union College (CUC), described the incident as "unbelievable."

"It was literally a life-and-death situation unfolding right in front of us.

"I always wanted to either work on board a ship or become an attorney, after seeing that rescue, I think I want to own my own vessel. Who knows, one day I may even be able to assist others in distress while on the sea," she said..

The two were among several members of the Oropune Police Youth Club on their way to Tobago for a week under the charge of youth club leader Cpl Kevin Greenidge, when the incident occurred.

The youth club trip, Greenidge said, had been long in planning, and the enthusiastic youths had been looking forward to a holistic adventure as soon as they reached Tobago.

"However, as God would have it, they got to see first-hand the quick action of first responders to disaster, the calm of even those being rescued and even the positive encouraging reactions from all those who saw the incident. It was a learning experience for us all and a great start to our one-week trip," said Greenidge.

The Oropune Youth Club has been known among national clubs for having several wins, titles and trophies in various sporting activities since its inception in 2015. Just before the start of the new year, several participants passed musical examinations from the Royal Academy of Music, London.

Last month, two of its members, Khadeen Neptune and Paris Coutain, co-wrote and performed the jingle for the up-coming Commissioner's Cup Football Tournament, launched by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, and carded to begin in June.

However, Greenidge said their greatest sense of achievement came from yeoman service offered when the club was used as an impromptu site for the distribution of much-needed, food and supplies for victims of last year's floods, which ravaged their community on October 19. The club also provided similar relief for those affected at Greenvale.

It was shortly after this that the club's executive decided to plan a trip for its young members, who willingly assisted in helping on weekends and after school.

The trip, he said, which was overseen by vice president Gillian Pitt and president of the parent body, Crystal Redhead-Horsford, is jam-packed with activities, including a much-anticipated visit to the Nylon Pool and Buccoo Reef. For many of the children, it is their first visit to Tobago.

Activities also include visits to Argyle Waterfall, Castara and Parlatuvier beaches, Charlotteville, Flagstaff Fort, Cambleton, Pirate's Bay, Black Rock and Mt Pleasant Goat Races. The club, said Redhead-Horsford, has also been invited to visit and participate in events hosted by several police youth clubs in Tonago.

Neptune, who was accompanied by her younger brother, Khymani, 13, said they intend to learn as much as they can from their short stay and expressed the hope that the trip becomes an annual one.

Greenidge expressed gratitude to Massy Foundation, Kiss Baking Company, residents and parents who all contributed to make their trip possible.

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