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Tuesday 17 September 2019
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China Railway employees upgrade Servol’s Junior Life Centre

A shelter for hope

Member of Parliament for Port of Spain North/St Ann's West, Stuart Young leads a tour of the newly refurbished  building.
Member of Parliament for Port of Spain North/St Ann's West, Stuart Young leads a tour of the newly refurbished building.

Just in time for the rainy season, China Railway Construction (Caribbean) Company Ltd (CRCCCL) embarked on a partnership with Servol to replace the roof at the Junior Life Centre (JLC) in Cascade. The company also repainted the building, cleared the compound of debris and installed a new and much-needed, stand-alone, air-conditioned counselling and meeting room.

The JLC caters to youth from the Cascade/St Ann’s area, Morvant/Laventille, Belmont, and wider Port of Spain. SEA Students who have not made it into the secondary school system, are given an opportunity to enroll in one of the programmes offered at ten centres located across TT.

The Cascade JLC has been in existence for over 25 years but the building itself is over 50-years-old and in much need of repairs. Apart from the leaky roof, the old wooden floors need refurbishing, the drainage systems are no longer fit for purpose, and clearing of nearby hillsides for housing developments, has created periodic flooding in the compound which affects both the students of the JLC and the youth of the Love Movement – a musical performing group which shares the building and also caters to the underserved.

Cascade JLC chairman Dwayne Henderson addresses the audience.

Responding to requests from the Cascade JLC board of directors which has responsibility for the property upkeep, CRCCCL’s managing director Yan Meng was pleased to take on the upgrade project as part of the company's Corporate Social Responsibility outreach; and his employees have undertaken to voluntarily replace the roof, repaint the building exterior and to undertake general repair and clean-up works ahead of the new school term.

Commenting at the handover on July 20, vice president of CRCCI Feng Laigang said, “CRCCCL attaches much importance to maximising local content in the way it does business.” He also spoke about the company’s relationship to its communities and particularly about its collaboration with the JLC which is part of its host community. He said, “This is the first phase of our collaboration with Servol Cascade JLC. We intend to collaborate over the long term...”

Chairman of the JLC Cascade board, Dwayne Henderson said in his welcome remarks, “It is with great pleasure and privilege I witness the coming together of this project for the roof replacement, building and installation of the counselling room, painting, as well as the general repairs and improvements to this facility. It is in this spirit of collaboration that we wholeheartedly welcome China Railway Construction and the local company – China Railway Construction Caribbean.”

Last month, having completed studies in both the academic and trade streams, 15 students graduated from the centre. Many JLC graduates have gone on to further studies, pursuing degrees at universities and other tertiary institutions. The centres provide a holistic educational programme built around spirituality, physical education, intellectual work, creative work, emotional awareness and social awareness.

JLC student Latanya Romany presented Feng with a copy of the book The Servol Village, by the late founder Fr. Gerard Pantin. Feng in turn, gave each student a new school bag and wished them the very best for the future. Ajaela Ferguson of the Love Movement presented the vice president with CDs of their music.

Love Movement's Alaeja Ferguson serenades the audience

At the handover event, which was chaired by lead instructor Osavia Toussaint, were directors along with chairman of the board of the JLC Dwayne Henderson who delivered remarks. Also present was Charge D’Affaires of China Zhang Lei and embassy representatives, parents, students and instructors.

Member of Parliament for Port of Spain North/St Ann's West, Stuart Young was present to address and encourage the students. He acknowledged China Railway’s initiatives to invest in socially responsible programmes and thanked the company for the work it is doing in the service of youth.

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