WITH borders closed and people around the globe locked indoors to slow the transmission of the coronavirus, social media is a way for TT nationals living abroad to keep in touch with loved ones at home.
For a group of San Fernandians living abroad, the social media page Sando People is a blessing in this time of the coronavirus pandemic.
In February the San Fernando City Corporation (SFCC) recognised the group of 12 TT nationals, who live in New York, for the work they have been doing, through the page, to connect San Fernandians living across the globe and to promote its culture.
The group is chaired by Claire Gloria Sandy, who has lived in the US for over 20 years.
Sandy and four other members of the 12-member committee, dubbed “ambassadors for San Fernando,” were presented with a citation by San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello during the corporation's monthly statutory meeting at the end of February.
San Fernandian Lynette Tang, who lives in London, was also invited during the statutory meeting to give an insight into the life of her late father, Reynold Joseph Chancellor. Chancellor was a well-known character who spent most of his years living and playing his trumpet around Library Corner, San Fernando, after falling on hard times on his return from England. He died in 1998 and his ashes are preserved in the garden at Belgrove's Funeral Home, Coffee Street.
Regrello said he came across the Facebook Sando People page about a year ago and was fascinated by the efforts of citizens living abroad to promote the city, posting photographs, sharing historical perspectives of how San Fernandians lived, and their generosity, love and hospitality.
“What is important is, the organisation based in New York is highlighting the San Fernando we once knew, the San Fernando of old.”
Regrello said although there is a marked difference between San Fernando then and San Fernando now, “it is still San Fernando.”
He said the group is playing a critical role in connecting and reconnecting people around the world, who can share their memories of where they lived, went to school and hung out.
Given an opportunity to address the council, Sandy said it has been a dream “to do things to promote our beloved city where we all grew up, to share childhood memories of hanging out by Jack Frost and Huggins and who stole candy from Woolworth.”
She told Regrello the group often assists children’s homes and other charitable causes in San Fernando and would like to partner with the SFCC to promote the city.
Regrello said arrangements would be made with the group through the SFCC’s Tourism Committee, as the city too is keen “to fill all the hotels in San Fernando, to have more mas bands on the street and really look at the overall development of San Fernando.”
The page which has over 10,000 members, is a fun page void of religious and political opinions, Sandy stressed.
“One guy sent me a message. He said he thinks this page will help him not to get Alzheimer’s because it took him back to his time of fun memories growing up in San Fernando.”
Coming out of the group, a Sando Day was held in Brooklyn last August attracting over 1,500 San Fernandians, some who had not seen each other in over 20 years.
People who could not attend that event asked for a Sando Day to be held when they came home for Carnival.
“So we had a Sando Day at Palmiste Park, two Sundays before Carnival. We had tents and everybody brought food, drinks. Nothing was for sale, everything was shared, so it is a love thing, it is a oneness,” Sandy said.
The group teamed up with the Hatters Steel Orchestra to bring out a Carnival Monday band, Rebirth.
“We have to bring San Fernando out of the ashes. Steelbands are dying to come back out on the streets and we have to be there for them.”
“This is my home and my heart is here to do things to promote Sando,” Sandy said.