The Yahweh Foundation came in for high praise for the work its members and volunteers have been doing with not only the seniors but also the youths within communities across the island.
THA Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis visited the foundation recently at its new home in Signal Hill where he was taken on a tour of the premises, brought up to date on the NGO's recent distribution of electronic devices to its junior and senior participants, and given a demonstration of a live “ZOOMERANG” among Yahweh members.
In addressing the members, Dennis recalled when he first encountered the foundation in 2013 at its former home in the Buccoo Community Centre. He thanked the foundation for “inspiring many, across generations, in Tobago, in keeping with a mandate which is shared by the THA – to help young people flourish and the elderly to thrive.”
He said society will not move forward and develop unless there is constant and close collaboration between the government, the private sector and the voluntary sector.
Dennis said, “I want to even suggest that the role that you all play is particularly important and special to the people of Tobago. Because, of course, we’re talking about persons being part of an NGO, a voluntary sector and in many cases, you operate based on volunteerism which of course some persons may suggest is dying. Back in the older days, you had persons willing to devote their time and energy to the benefit of other persons, being their brother’s keeper – free of charge.”
He added: “In this day and age, it is becoming a bit more difficult to attract that kind of involvement from people. I’m saying, the fact that you still have Yahweh Foundation continuing to operate in the same kind of vigour or even increased vigour and increased vibrancy, and even with increased participation and support, I think that says a lot about this entity, its strength, the commitment of its people, the commitment of its leadership and the fact that you all have been able to gain the respect and attract the support of not only the THA, but I’m sure private sector entities.”
He had some words of encouragement for the volunteers.
“Continue doing what you’re doing and of course, make an effort and endeavour to do it a little better each day.”
Speaking with Newsday, the foundation’s founder and president Penelope Camps said the aim of the organisation is to bring to life the concept of "being our brother’s keeper" by being of service to the vulnerable, enhancing their opportunities to experience and enjoy a sense of family as well as to encourage the building of inter-generational relationships that are mutually enriching.
Camps said, “The foundation started in 2012. The foundation is really about lending support on a community level to people who were very isolated – the most underserved in the communities – and we found that those were the very young, the children, and the very old.”
She said the foundation began conducting programmes for both.
“A homework centre that involved holistic development: art and craft and environmental care and education, sports, literacy and homework support for children between six and 12.
“For the elderly, they came and we developed programming that included sharing stories, sharing history but also involving body, mind and spirit things, so they would become very involved in music, singing and dancing' we did a sit-down form of exercise and so on. It was enrichment that kept people connected and involved and engaged in life as they got older.”
She said a few years later, they began engaging teens as “we felt that there was a very high rate of school delinquency and social emotional problems.”
She said now, the foundation is in a digitisation phase, keeping connected through devices. As the foundation celebrates nine years in May, she is comfortable that the mission has been realised.