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Faith in God and self – not Petrotrin

During an ice-breaker activity, attendees attempt building puzzles to understand the process it takes to “build a picture for their lives.” 

Photo and story by Renée Smith,

The parish of St Benedict’s, La Romaine has attempted to address the feelings of “uncertainty” many are experiencing with the news of Petrotrin’s closure. The once state-owned oil company will officially cease operations on November 30 releasing approximately 3,500 permanent staff.

With this significant job loss, parish priest Msgr Christian Pereira came up with the idea to initiate dialogue on ‘Life before and after Petrotrin’ which took place last Sunday, September 30 at St Benedict’s Parish Hall.

Susan Romano-Davis of SUMAR Consultancy Ltd and Ronald Tagallie of Elder Associates Ltd facilitated the three-hour-long discussion.

Tagallie told the group it was important to understand “the nature of change” and self. He said, “When you are in the lion’s den and faced with serious loss or with a situation that is seemingly not survivable and you don’t know how to navigate, you can end up hurting yourself and others.”

He then asked attendees to share their initial feelings upon finding out they would soon be unemployed. Answers included “uncertain of the future but hopeful”, “shocked”, “not surprised”. Others had mixed feelings as “the reality has not hit home”, voicing that when they are given their severance packages, they might feel differently.

One attendee shared that she worked at Petrotrin for 29 years but came to the realisation that Petrotrin does not define her. She told the group, “As an individual, I believe I can add value to any environment. I can already see my community will be significantly affected when Petrotrin is no more but my family and I are looking for ways to give back [outside of Petrotrin]. To get me through, I always tell myself no bad breeze will blow.”

Romano-Davis advised it was important to find a mantra to “make you feel good” as the situation brought for many “a sense of darkness”.  Placing participants into small groups she asked them to envision a light at the end of the tunnel of darkness and share what the light represented for them.

Faith in God has to be the source of light and joy, not Petrotrin, one group noted. Other “lights” included developing prayer support, honing new skills, adopting simpler lifestyles and looking for employment outside of Trinidad and Tobago.

‘Developing a wealth mindset’ jumpstarted part-two of the session in which Romano-Davis and her team advised on financial practices to adopt. Emphasis was made on a step-by-step process:

Establish financial goals

Gather relevant data

Analyse the data

Develop a plan for achieving goals

Implement the plan

Monitor the plan

“Assessing your net worth is also crucial in all of this,” Romano-Davis said, adding, “for each person it will be different but making the right financial choices helps you plan and maintain control”.

In closing she advised “It doesn’t matter what a company or the government is doing for you but what you are doing for yourself.”