Trinidadians and Venezuelans joined together last month to carry out a project at the Rosary Monastery in St Ann's.
A group of 28 Venezuelan men remodelled the structure, built in 1929. With the support of Dominican priests and members of the Catholic community, the convent underwent improvements for approximately six weeks.
August 7 was the feast of Santo Domingo, when a mass was celebrated in the small chapel of the convent by Archbishop Jason Gordon and attended by other priests and members of the church, by residents and all the Venezuelan workers who contributed to the improvements.
It was an opportunity for the archbishop to appreciate the work done in such a short time, through a tour of the facility accompanied by the nuns of the convent, workers and the organisers of the project.
Beatriz Ramoutarsingh, one of the Catholics involved in the project, stressed that the aim was a collaboration between the Catholic community, which wanted to recover the history of the monastery, and the Venezuelan labour force, whose members today consider TT home.
“The proposal came from several people that visit the convent constantly and decided, with the support of the church hierarchy, to start this beautiful project, in which Venezuelan men are taken into account, who from the beginning gave their support to collaborate with the workforce,” Ramoutarsingh told Sunday Newsday.
Sister Ann Bradshaw, prioress of the convent, recalled that it was Venezuelan nuns who began the construction of the monastery.
"In 1874, a group of sisters arrived as refugees in TT, and today it is the refugees from that same country who help us recover the legacy," she pointed out.
The work included renovating 40 bedrooms with new beds and mattresses, corridors, general painting, new wooden floors, stairs, bathrooms and toilets, all electricity and plumbing, changing the roof and replacing the green areas and the garden, under the supervision and design of Suzette Farah.
On July 5, Venezuela's independence day, the workers reconstructed the image of the Our Lady of Coromoto, patron of their nation, accompanied by a mass in Spanish in which they asked God for peace and for their country to be prosperous and happy again.
Luis Goncalvez, a Venezuelan worker, told Sunday Newsday that from the first day they began the work with nostalgia, because the convent was created by women from their own country.
"It fills us with pride and at the same time responsibility for being an installation that is for the people of TT, with the love of Venezuelans."
Luis Areyan said while they worked they asked God for prosperity for their nation.
“Our country is currently experiencing a crisis and we are here to help our families, but also to collaborate with the development of TT.”
Most of the Venezuelan team are from the city of Anaco, in the east of the country.